(Originally published 2/2012) During my last deployment I wrote about my teammates. I wanted you to have an idea with whom I spent like 99% of my time. Then, I was a team leader and shepherded Chip, Woody, Shaniese and the infamous Sister Mary Danger through a year in ‘the Suck.’ Well, I’m in quite a different situation this time, but I do have a few interesting coworkers. Some of y’all might remember Melody. She’s probably my closest friend here. And man, is she one unique chick.
Melody’s family immigrated to the US from Cambodia when she was real young. We haven’t talked about her pre-US life, but we did share stories about growing up poor. And Melody isn’t her real name – it’s something unpronounceable like Xjahmlotqlukbi. So we call her Melody, unless I’m trying to chastise her then I use that jacked up name, gets her attention every time. At first glance, she’s a sweet, shy demure woman, quiet - yet noticeable. Then one gets to know her and shades of a different person come out.
Melody, despite the quiet shy act, loves to be the center of attention, but not in a loud obnoxious way. She likes it when people notice her. Understand this – we’re in a war zone and the ration of men to women is like 250 to 1. Honey, you’re getting noticed! Melody is a girly girl too which some guys love – you know, the whole “I’ll protect you thing.” But she’s like my lil sis – and I’ve realized I’ve gone the “protection” route too. She says Hi to everyone – even the real skeezy guys. Honestly, she reminds me of Carmen from the last deployment w/o the constant need to get laid. Yeah, remember Carmen? Oh, do I have stories about that one, but this is about Melody….
In the winter when there was snow and ice everywhere, Melody and I used to go “skiing” cross country style to/from work or the chow hall or to meetings, or wherever. To me it was fun, to her it was exercise. She’d even ski with a cig in hand. Oh, Melody loves to smoke. She hasn’t yet developed that deep tuberculitic cough that Zeke has, but it’s just a matter of time. All that skiing was fun and we started referring to ourselves as Brian Boitano & Nancy Kerrigan. I don’t think those two were pair skaters, but it fits. When we don’t have sno, Melody gets zero exercise because she doesn’t “ski” anymore. Ladies, don’t hate her – she does zero exercise, could wears kid’s size clothes yet eats all the time.
OMG, she’s gonna kill me for this – but it deals with her eating. Melody piles the food on her plate at each meal. She usually does a good job of getting thru most of it, which is impressive given her small stature (the woman weighs like 95lbs). So I said once, “You must crap a lot.” She looks at me nonchalantly and replies, no, about twice a week. TWICE A WEEK! What the hell is that? How can she consume such copious amounts of food and be so tiny, yet hardly ever get rid of it? Bizarre I tell ya. I crap all the time, usually twice a DAY here. On more than one occasion, when Melody is trying to get us to believe some nonsense about food, health, etc. I’ve told her she’s full of crap. Actually, I’m probably right – in the literal sense.
One last thing about her – Melody is our “mom.” In addition to needing attention, she wants to take care of people. Her family not only controls her money (it’s an Asian cultural thing), but they send her food packets, medicines, hand warmers, coffees, creamers, whatever she asks for. If someone in the office mentions they wish they had “x”, Melody will surreptitiously get her sister to send it. She’s nurturing like that. I bet she’d make a great babysitter. Milani is the exact opposite.
Milani – the other half
“Milani should be more like Little Red Riding Hood than the Big Bad Wolf!” – me after she barged into the office yelling for the 3rd time in an hour.
The second part of the Eminem is Milani. She arrived about a month after Melody and I, and although she’s also an American immigrant of Asian descent, she and Melody couldn’t be more different.
Milani is Malaysian – and she’s bonded with the Philippine workers here – or as I call them, the Pilipino Mafia. Yeah, Milani’s got the connection – you want your shirts ironed/pressed, she knows a woman who’ll do it. You like lumpia – the Pilipino version of egg rolls, she can get you a bag of them. You wanna find charcoal to grill, she knows the supply dudes. Milani is a huge asset and both annoying and fun to be around.
Whereas Melody is tiny, Milani is stout. Melody called her Humpty Dumpty at dinner once – I nearly choked laughing. Milani usually has a scowl on her face and is really loud when she’s excited or mad. Melody looks serene and is purposefully quiet all the time. Melody dresses like a little girl, Milani often wears men’s sports or work-out clothes. Melody abhors working out and avoids the gym. I see Milani in there daily – she’s a power lifter and hangs out with Judd & Billy. Melody has manners and proper at the table, Milani eats like a guy, arms and elbows all over the table – I hate sitting next to her!
My favorite part is food – Milani is constantly on a “diet.” Well, I don’t think you can call her eating habits dietary in any sense of the word. Although she’ll eat the occasional salad – she loads on the cheese and dressing, totally defeating any healthy aspect. Then later, because she had a salad – she’ll join with Judd & Billy and split two large pizzas. Milani!!!!! Why are you killing yourself? She loves the French bread they serve here and will eat copious amounts, yet avoid anything of nutritional value to “compensate.” I gave up advising her on food…it’s a lost cause. Now I just harass her. Ya can’t help but love her for it. In fact, Melody and I will suggest Milani get whatever dessert, cookies, ice cream, etc. just to torture her. We are evil.
Milani loves big clunky things. She’s got a couple man-size watches. The first time I pointed this out she yelled at me, scowl on her face – It’s not a man’s watch, Cameron Diaz wears it! Bingo – found a button! I push it whenever Milani needs to be messed with – which is often. So, she walks, eats, lifts and swears like a guy, she wears men’s accessories and clothes, and she has no self-control in the chow hall yet complains about her weight – and we love her for it. She’s a great person, fantastic work ethic, produces great reports, and always makes me feel good in one aspect or another. Plus, she wants to run for public office back home in Malaysia – Milani’s family immigrated to the states when she was a teenager. Gotta give the woman props, respect – and all kinds of hell, of course.