I’m a sucker for a man in uniform. Short, fat, tall, bald, I don’t care. It’s as if some sort of magic transformation happens when they slip into those starched polyester clothes. From fireman to policemen and even the man who reads my water meter…whew Lordy. Maybe it’s that I know they could potentially save me from danger. (Or save me 20 bucks on my water bill) Or maybe it just boils down to the fact that they have made at least one commitment in their lives so committing to me wouldn’t be that big of a leap. (It’s scary how a woman’s mind works, isn’t it?) Either way, I’ve always had a weakness.
Every woman in my family has married a man from Columbus Air Force Base. Seriously. Every woman in my family. And they’re all still happily married. Well. They’re all still married at least. I had said my entire life that I would never marry a pilot. I was going to get out of this town and make a name for myself. Without a man. And that little plan just might have worked if I hadn’t gone and fallen in love. And of course, he was a pilot.
I met Prinny’s father when I was 19 years old. Looking back now…goodness, what a girl I was. I knew the moment I laid eyes on that man that I was going to marry him. Sadly, he didn’t share the same thought. We had been seeing each other for six months when I got pregnant. At 19 years old, I was just naive enough to think that this could be the beginning of my fairy tale. A different approach, mind you, but a fairy tale after all. In his late 20’s, Prinny’s father had other ideas. I remember telling him I was pregnant and watching him crawl off the couch and lay in a starfish position on the floor, not saying a word for at least an hour. All the while wearing his uniform. Irony. It will get ya every time.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting the cutest little boy I’ve ever seen. With dark brown hair, deep chocolate eyes that you can get lost in, an obvious Southern accent and a love of all things John Deere, this little man stole my heart. His mother is also a single mom. And goodness if her story didn’t sound a lot like mine. She too had fallen in love with a pilot. He too, had decided that family life wasn’t for him. So now she and I have these two absolutely adorable children and their fathers are no where in sight. Is it that she and I are shrewd and conniving women who failed at trapping these men? Or is it possible that there is another option that comes into play?
In my experience, most pilots who come to Columbus are fresh out of college. And while we Southerners are used to getting married in our early 20’s, if not before, that’s not the case in other parts of the country. So. A young man comes to Columbus to pursue his dream of flying planes. Is falling in love and settling down with a local girl is his top priority? Probably not. Chances are, he sees his time in our fair city as a year to learn how to do what he loves, have fun while he can and get out as quickly as possible. Sounds like a good plan right? But what happens when you throw a baby in the mix?
I know that there are plenty of incredibly good men and women stationed at CAFB. I also know there are plenty of women out there known as “Pilot Chasers.” And for a time I could have been classified as one of them. We women see what basically amounts to feety pajamas for big boys and begin to conjure up images of An Officer and a Gentleman. But what Hollywood doesn’t tell us is that while we’ve spent our entire lives longing for the love story, these men have spent their entire lives longing for a career in a jet. And the funny thing about planes is they have a tendency of flying away.
Believe it or not, I will always love the man who stole my heart at 19. While he’s not around to see what an amazing little girl she is, he gave me the most precious thing in my life. For that, I will always be grateful. And inevitably when she’s older, she’ll have a thing for men in uniform too. I can only pray she brings home the meter man.0