Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ghosts of Hallowe'en past

Oh, isn't this fun?  Betty Debbie and Betty Keira, not content with their Bettysday matchmaking service, set me up for a party on Hallowe'en.  Army Betty brews a caldron of chili (or beef stew, as Araminta Miranda would say) on that holiday each year, and she invited the Jonkheer and me over to imbibe.  I am not a chili-eater myself, but the Jonkheer informs me it was quite spicy.  Definitely not from a tin.  I can attest to the tastiness of the margaritas - no petrol-flavor at all!  We had a delicious time, and look forward to returning the invitation.

The Jonkheer 'volunteered' to take a photo, too.  (Confidential to Army Betty:  I never did explain what you kept calling him and why.)

Army left, with A Secret Infatuation; van den Betsy right, with Damsel in Green.

And then, Army Betty followed up with this delightful note:

My British Army neighbor stopped by this morning. ("Can you break from your telecommuting for elevenses, my dear?)   She was supposed to come by on Halloween (I'd hoped you'd get to meet her), but the Colonel was "under the weather and not to be left alone".

So I asked her again about the whole tying your hair back with a piece of string bit:

Margaret:  You do recall that the term could refer to an office rubber band?
Me:  Even when she says "bootlace" or " a piece of twine" or "a handy leather thong"?
Margaret:  Well, that is a different kettle of fish entirely. 
Me:  So how does one do that?
Margaret:  You Yanks with your squeaky clean hair might have a bit of a tough run with it.   Didn't your Betty start writing in the 70's?   Even Yanks didn't wash long hair daily in the pre-blow dryer age.  I do recall you mentioning hair-washing as a rather big deal involving towels before the fire until it's dry enough to plait?
Me:  Well, yes.
Margaret:  A clear indication that hair-washing is not a daily event.  Well, then, assuming one does not have slippery squeaky-clean American hair, here's how you go about it.  Gather it all up into a ponytail and give it a bit of a twist.  Ensure about an inch of the ponytail closest to the head is twisted fairly tautly.  Take your string or cord or whatever and leave enough room at one end to tie a bow or slipknot and hold it fast under one thumb, against the twisted hair at either far edge (I find the outer edge to be easier) of the twist.  With your other hand, wind the string round the hair at least 10 times, tautly.  Then tie the two ends of the string together.  It takes practice to get it right, easiest to practice on a small hank of hair toward the front till you get the hang of it.
Me:  Is this a common practice?
Margaret:  Not anymore, one can purchase hair ties quite cheaply these days.
Me:  And by hair tie, you mean...
Margaret:  (Deep sigh)  Yes, I mean hair elastics.
Me:  So let me ask you about the Belgians.
Margaret:  A topic for another day, my dear.  Elevenses are usually a quarter hour and we've been idling for twice that at least.  Sherry is in order for such a trying conversation, I'll pay an afternoon call one day.

And with that she briskly departed.



  1. I'd just like to say thank you today to Army Betty and any other veterans on this blog I don't know about. If anyone is married to a veteran you can pass this on for me.

    Thank you all for your service, and for keeping our nation strong. You are America's greatest asset. I will forever be grateful for your sacrifice.

    Betty von Susie

    1. Thank you very much, Betty von Susie. I remember when my father came home from Vietnam, and told us he was coming home a day later than scheduled so we wouldn't go to the airfield at Camp Pendleton and see the ugliness directed at the Marines themselves, rather than the policymakers, by the protesters of that era. He came home in a taxi.

      The country has changed so much since then. I am grateful to have served at a time when servicemen and women are not vilified (except by members of that one wacko radical group that pickets funerals). I'm even more grateful that my dad has lived long enough to receive messages like yours (which I have forwarded to him). People like you have done my father a world of good, erasing past injustices and allowing him to speak more freely about his years of service. Thank you!

    2. I was born in '64, so it was quite a few years before I was old enough to understand how the Vietnam vets were treated. I was sickened, of course, as any human being with a HEART would be. I have been dispatching (police and fire) for over 25 years. As a young dispatcher it was my privilege and honor to work with several officers who were Vietnam veterans (2 Marines and 1 Navy vet). The fact that they were willing to pick up the badge, and swear to protect and serve the very people who ridiculed and reviled them when they came home, well, I think that pretty much says all you need to know about their character, doesn't it? I don't know if I could turn the other cheek like that. I try to do a little something for my vets at work (and my stepdad, Vietnam vet - Army) every year, just so they will know that someone is aware of how vital they are. And by the by, tell your dad Marines make the best policeman, and are of course the most handsome too!

      B von S

    3. I forgot to add Oooh-Rahhhhh!

      B von S

    4. Or HOOAH! Army Betty and I were trying to figure out what the Navy shout is on Hallowe'en, but couldn't get to it. According to someone on Yahoo! answers, it's, "hooo-yaaahhh!" and the Air Force uses the same.

      I can't find anything on what Betty's English military would say, other than "Hooray" and "Huzzah," both of which are probably out of date.

      Happy Veteran's Day, Army Betty!

    5. I work with several Navy guys and they all all seem to answer to "Hello, Sailor"......

      B von S

    6. OOOH-RAHHH is Marine-speak.

      HOOAH is Army-speak.

      ARGGHHH or AYE is Navy-speak.

      "Cool, cable's back on at the airfield" is Air Force-speak.


      According to my neighbor, it's Huzzah for the Brits. But not very often. Because they aren't big fans of outbursts.

    7. Apparently the Army could add "mee-OW" to its repetoire...

    8. Ouch! It's hard to see my beloved Army reduced to a new Peyton Place in the nightly news....

    9. I can't help but wonder how they manage all that Brighton-ish behavior in a combat zone? It's not like there's any privacy there....

    10. Where there's a will there's a way (to Brighton).

      Poor wingnuts, they get so much slack from the other service branches.

      man #1: So, what do you do for a living?
      man #2: I'm in the Air Force.
      man #1: Oh, really? Ever think about joining the miltary?

      B von S

    11. Have I ever mentioned that Dr. van der Stevejinck was in the Air National Guard for several years? Just saying...

    12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    13. Classic Army joke follows.....since this is a Brighton-free blog, have a) replaced "s-verb" with "stinks", and b) provided the narrative version rather than the slightly rawer cartoon.

      An Army grunt stands in the rain with a 15 kg. pack on his back,
      5 kg. weapon in hand, after having marched 15 km, and says, "This stinks."

      An Army Airborne Ranger stands waist deep in the rain with a 25 kg. pack on his back,
      weapon in hand, after having jumped from an airplane and marched 30 km,
      and says with a smile, "I like the way this stinks!"

      A Special Forces soldier lies in the mud, 40 kg pack on his back,
      weapon in hand, after swimming 10 km to shore, crawling through a swamp and
      marching 40 km at night past the enemy positions,
      says with a grin, while biting the head of a snake "I wish this could stink even more!"

      An Army helicopter pilot is flying over the battlefield, the rain is pouring down,
      he looks down at the soldiers below and says: "Looks like it stinks down there!"

      An Air Force NCO sits in an easy chair in his air conditioned,
      carpeted room, rain pouring down outside his window, and says to his friend, "Man.. Cable's out! This stinks!"

    14. Betty Debbie, the National Guard -- both Air and Army -- is the most underrated and unappreciated of our services with the most difficult job, IMHO. Guardsmen leave their own homes in the middle of disasters to provide assistance to others, no matter what has befallen their own home. And they deploy as often as anyone else on top of their homeland mission. Many thanks to Dr. van der Stevejinck!

    15. Army Betty - Navy guy gave me the cartoon version of your joke - it has always been one of my favorite, especially the crazy squinty eyed look of the special forces guy as he bites the snake. They all pick on each other but they would all give their lives for each other, that's what I love about police/fire/the military. Civilian friends are fine, but will they take a round for ya? Nope.

      B von S

    16. Just chiming in to say "ditto" to BvonS's first comment. My maternal grandfather was in the Navy during WWI. My father was on Iwo Jima and Okinawa during WWII. He made it home. My stepfather was in the Navy during WWII. The PRT's father was in the Army Air Corps and was a prisoner of war in Germany and made it home. The PRT's stepfather was in the Air Force. Various uncles fought in WWII. My nephew is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. God bless all former and current military people. Thank you, Army Betty.

      Betty AnoninTX

  2. Great picture! The Jonkheer is a true artist. Loved the "piece of string" bit.
    Pre-blow dryer age?
    Said to my mom, "We had a blow dryer in the sixties. Right?" Says she, "We had a blow dryer at home. We had a blow dryer at home and I remember what it looked like. It was a bit larger." My mom was orphaned in 1945...
    But of course, back in the seventies, most people did not wash their hair every day even if they did have a blow dryer.

  3. We used to have a home hair dryer (the kind with a bonnet). I can still see my sisters, in rollers, drying their hair in that. My first blow dryer was in the 70s. It was bright orange and weighed at least a million pounds. My arm would wear out before my hair was dry.

    Betty AnoninTX

    1. We had that same heavy bright orange one! It was in the mid-70's-ish time period. You could connect a comb to it instead of a concentrator if you wanted to. Only my dad the Marine had the requisite arm strength to dry any of his three daughters' hair, everyone else's arms gave out long before a single head was dry.

    2. Aaaww, that sounds so sweet, the big, burly Marine drying his baby girls hair for them. Don't tell your dad I said he was sweet though 'cause he probably still has the requisite arm strength to punch my lights out. ;)

      B von S

    3. He does, but doesn't mind being called sweet. Dad is one of those awesome parents who would be struck down early and abruptly by The Great Betty.