With the release of the book No Easy Day, there is a lot of talk about Navy SEALs this week. I can see why so many people want to read about the SEAL team and that particular mission. There is a mystique about who these guys are and what they do. A book from a team member is an enticing look inside for us mere mortals.
I prefer the other side of that world. Some might say it’s the boring side, but I heartily disagree. I was lucky enough to have a SEAL as a brother (from another mother) for almost 20 years. I was obviously not privy to what he did on the job. But I got to witness just about everything else–as a friend, a neighbor, a movie buddy, a dive bar patron, and a pen pal. Here’s what I learned about SEAL life. Or, at least, the life of our SEAL.
- Almost every little kid has superhero aspirations. Astronaut, Batman, cowboy, whatever. How many people do you know who actually did it? I know one. One.
- They really, really appreciate a home-cooked Thanksgiving when they’re far from family. And they’re super forgiving when you’ve forgotten to defrost the turkey and have to give them four hours of appetizers before the meal is ready. Thank God for Doritos and muffins. Just like the pilgrims ate!
- SEALs like to unwind like any other group of young guys. Only louder.
- They will sometimes borrow the tools at the team shop to make homemade wooden birthday presents.
- Some of them read lots of Harry Potter.
- Their big sister is one of their best friends.
- They are awesome at remembering every special occasion. I suspect that they may own stock in Hallmark. No Mother’s Day, anniversary, Groundhog Day, or Valentine’s Day go unrecognized.
- They send postcards from EVERYWHERE.
- If a child hands them a pretend phone and says “Ring! Ring!” they will absolutely stop what they’re doing and answer it. And make-believe chat for 10 minutes.
- They love fiercely, they fight bravely, and they make killer huevos rancheros.
If you read No Easy Day, stop periodically and picture one of the SEALs sporting lambchop sideburns for 70s night at a baseball game. Or bowling in rented shoes. Or thoroughly enjoying a chick flick. These things are just as important to the story even if they’re missing from the page.