Well another bloody deployment is looming in the Oyl household. So forgive me if I’m not as chirpy as usual. The navy and me are in a sulk with each other, with our arms folded, lips pouting, facing away from each other across the room.
I’m remembering how I am with the paradigm account lady and therefore Popeyes voicemail that spans the distance when Popeye is away. To those of you not in the know paradigm is the communication service for the Royal Navy. It’s basically a phone card that you can top up, they get so many free minutes too but if you want any amount of quality contact it’s time to whip out the old debit card and splash a bit of cash.
You can leave voicemails for free that your sailor picks up when they use their card, I.e. Right before they are about to call you.
This combination of free, anytime voicemails and also the fact they only hear them when about to call can have embarrassing consequences. Trust me.
So, at times I get very very soppy and miss Popeye so hard that I have an ache in my tummy. This is very much worsened by well meaning people , by anyone who is happy and holding hands when I walk the dog and especially by soppy songs on on Magic music channel late at night.
I inevitably ring up said paradigm voicemail lady and attempt to “serenade” darling Popeye down the phone and across the sea. He is such a lucky man.
Picture the scene. He finishes a gruelling 14 hour day, manages to scrounge 5 minutes with a phone to ring his doting wife, “oh ho” thinks Popeye, “a lovely message from someone who cares about me. I miss the peace and quiet of home so much. Let’s listen.” And instead of a kind message of support and tender endearments he is greeted with a me screeching “everything I dooooo, I do it for yooooou” or “and I miss you, yeah, like the deserts miss the rain”, “nothing compares, nothing compares to yoooooou”or similar. Poor hubster has to endure 2 and a half minutes of me garbling love song lyrics down the phone before he can finally stop the noise and call me. This is more embarrassing when you realise that anyone in the near vicinity will also be able to hear what they must only be able to assume is someone making balloon animals down the phone.
The other way I let myself down is by ringing and leaving angry voicemails. Again let’s set the scene. Popeye hasn’t been home in months, he’s working his butt off and only able to let off steam for a few days every month or so when they are alongside. Even so, he is missing home. His view of me is rosy tinted and hazy. Perhaps I am wearing an apron and baking. Or maybe I am dressed to kill and fluttering my eyelashes. He remembers sharing wine on the patio and laughing over some joke, cuddling with the dog on the sofa and having friends round for BBQ’s. It’s all very idyllic and lovely.
Whatever the illusion is it is swiftly shattered when he again reaches for that phone and this time is greeted with the grating high pitched rants of the VERY pissed off navy wife (possibly with PMS).
“Popeye I CANNOT cope like this anymore! YOUR dog chewed up ANOTHER pair of shoes. Do you WANT your wife to be barefoot? Do you? DO YOU?!?! And another thing, if you think for ONE minute that you can just waltz back in here and solve everything, well you bloody can’t. I have had to sort out EVERYTHING whilst you’ve been gone and I DO NOT need saving. GOODBYE.” *click*
It takes a brave man to then ring the beast that left a message like that. I can only imagine the military toughened him up so he can stomach it. (He’s actually playing Xbox as I write this and assures me that 9/10 times he just finds it very very funny.) So he is not only a brave man, but also a very tactful man. Because if he told me it’s funny at the time I would probably go into orbit. He tells me this when I am calm and rational again. It’s quite a relief that he doesn’t view me as some kind of mental Kraken-woman sent to bully him via the medium of voicemail.
The next type of voicemail is by no means limited to the forces. But it is more embarrassing than your usual Friday night civvy style message. Hands up how many of us navy/military wives have left a loooooong tearful voicemail saying “I love you sooooo much and I miss yooooou and please come hoooooome ” sob sob sob. What I do however, which may or may not be usual is pretty much immediately (5-10minutes later) snap out of it. So Popeye gets this long, choked, snotty, whiney message filled with self indulged crying and “I love yous”, followed straight after with one saying “Popeye, hi, it’s Olive. So sorry about that message, just had a wobbly five minutes. Anywaaaay, alls fine here now, nothing for you to worry about, ta tah dahhhling, ta tah, mwah mwah” . Bright and breezy, no worries, I am totally coping.
Talk about your Jekyll and Hyde! He can see straight through it of course, but I still go through the motions of trying to reassure him that all is well on the home front.
Finally sometimes I completely lose the plot. This is usually towards the end of a deployment, or when I’ve not had much, if any, contact for a while.
I actually phone up and start talking to the voicemail lady.
So the message goes like this
Paradigm account voicemail recording lady (PAVRL): This is the paradigm account for service number blah blah blah. Please leave a message after the tone.
Me: oh hello paradigm account lady. Would you mind awfully if you let me speak to my husband? No? Still being a selfish cow are we? Maybe you’re just jealous because the talking clock man isn’t interested in you. Maybe you’re just a control freak. Maybe you just like to toy with the feelings of navy wives across the nation. Well you don’t scare me. Not one bit. Good day to you madam, and enjoy your petty victory.
Deployment does really strange things to me, I am NOT looking forward to going back there mentally.
Maybe the real reason women like a man in uniform is that it’s not the uniform, it’s the mentality that comes with military discipline. They’ve seen combat, they’ve been yelled at for ages for not making their bed properly, therefore nothing we do can scare nor deter them. Popeye at least takes it all in his stride and doesn’t bat an eyelash even when my behaviour during deployment verges on psychotic. He can see (well, hear anyway) and understand the emotional toll deployment takes on me. I for one am bloody thankful for that! I hope that all of you have supportive and understanding Popeyes, and if not, then I hope you don’t leave voicemails as bizarre as I do!