“Battle-Dressed Breasts” by Laurel McHargue

Laurel sporting her classy BDUs while in Korea

Laurel sporting her classy BDUs while in Korea

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman.” 

Although Army Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) designers knew what they were doing when they were tasked to create the perfect camouflage for soldiers, they probably could not have anticipated an unlikely scenario that unfolded at a rest area on the other side of the world. This odd occurrence nearly became the grounds for an international incident.

My company was part of a Team Spirit exercise. It was 1989. Our journey from Fort Ord, California to Pusan, (now Busan) South Korea was exhausting. As Commander of the 301st Transportation Company, I was responsible for getting half my company and its equipment deployed for our three month tour of support for the annual exercise. Bleary-eyed and feeling fairly grungy once we disembarked and regrouped in Pusan, we still had a long journey waiting as we boarded multiple buses which would carry us much further north to our destination in Osan.

I cannot remember how long we were cooped up on the buses before we hit the first rest stop, but the need to pee was ferocious, and I led the way to the ladies room with two of my female soldiers.

We had barely made it inside the spacious bathroom when the attack began. The sudden cacophony of high-pitched, disgruntled voices startled us all, yet we were unprepared for the physical assault that ensued. Tiny little hands—attached to tiny little old-as-dust Korean women—tugged and pulled at our sleeves in an attempt to drag us out of the bathroom! The situation was disturbing, especially since by then, my eyes were about to turn yellow. There was no way I was leaving without relieving, and I knew that my soldiers were hurting as well.

It took a moment before it dawned on me that these little old ladies—barely chest high to me—probably thought that we were in the wrong restroom. After all, we were covered cap to boots in military field attire. An easy fix, I thought, removing my cap and attempting to talk with my adorable captor. But no such luck. With barely a glance at my face—which by this time was likely as greasy and colorless as my conservatively cropped hair—our elderly assailants continued their struggle to drag us to the door, and my soldiers continued to look to me with desperation in their eyes.

In a sudden moment of clarity, I knew what to do. It was time to bring out the big guns, so to speak. Not that I couldn’t have overpowered my wizened little warrior and removed myself from her grasp, but I didn’t want to be rude. I was, after all, an ambassador of sorts, and both the situation and the noise decibels had already escalated to a point that made me uncomfortable—on multiple levels. No, I knew what to do.

With one fancy-foot maneuver, I positioned myself between my malcontent and the doorway, disengaging my sleeve ever so gently from her grasp, and with my two hands now freed, I clasped them to my own camouflage-covered breasts and—as much as I could under those bulky, buttoned-down pockets—shook them in her face (which, as I have heretofore mentioned, was chest high to me).

Laurel’s mom Patricia Bernier (white scarf) visiting her daughter in Korea.

Laurel’s mom Patricia Bernier (white scarf) visiting her daughter in Korea.

If only I had had a third hand holding a camera at that abrupt moment of comprehension! The eyebrows on that scrunched-up, ancient face were suddenly lost in her hairline as this new reality dawned on her. The noise which had moments before sounded like a Girls-Gone-Wild bar brawl now became, although no less loud, uproarious laughter. I had no idea what conversation passed between these little old ladies, but suddenly they were like children in a toy store, and we were the toys. The little hands that at first held us captive now boldly and unapologetically explored the G.I. Janes in their midst, turning us round and round while patting our not-so-camouflaged-anymore lady lumps.

With the crisis thwarted, my soldiers and I had yet to accomplish our mission, so with universal cross-legged-belly-holding-gotta-pee sign language, we were finally released to relieve ourselves. A third hand would have come in handy for this endeavor, too, as the balance required to straddle the hole on the floor of the bathroom stall while ensuring that the ass of your BDU pants is pulled forward and away from the target zone would have made any trained gymnast proud.

Our still giggling new friends waited for the three of us to complete our task, and resumed feeling us up as we made our way—this time, happily—to the door. Upon stepping back into the sunlight together, we were startled once more to see the concerned crowd that had gathered outside during the course of our international incident. In no time, however, the laughter and chatter of those boisterous little women brought smiles to the throng, and we boarded our bus with a story that has never failed to entertain.

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Laurel (Bernier) McHargue was raised as “Daughter #4” of five girls in Braintree, Massachusetts, where she lived until heading off to Smith College, followed by the United States Military Academy. Her constant quest for adventure landed her in Leadville, Colorado, where she currently resides with her husband and two sons. Laurel is the author of Miss?—a contemporary novel, based on actual events, that exposes the failure of our current public education system (http://amzn.to/1uDYAwH)—and the co-creator of Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Stupid Kid, as shown to the left. Order your copy today at http://amzn.to/1vpRWoW.

Women 250_rgbAgain, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Woman.” The book features 62 stories only women can truly appreciate! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer,  Amazon (http://amzn.to/1o9yZtl) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1Ctd6eK).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.