As any person who has participated in a military deployment can tell you, boredom can be one of your worst enemies.
Now granted the foreign guys with guns and bombs who want to kill you are probably a little more of a concern. But boredom can usually get second place.
Maybe third if your home base has a crazy bitch trying to get her church group put in charge of your recreation.
Or a distant fourth if you’re stationed in a place with camel spiders Because once you have camel spiders all of your problems pretty much become secondary to the “A giant spider is going to have it’s way with my skull and fill my brain with it’s demonic spawn” issue.
But whatever the case boredom tends to feature pretty high on the “things that suck” list.
So while I was in Bosnia I worked in an office, designing propaganda products to try to convince the locals that maybe they should stop trying to basically kill everybody that has ever had an ancestor in that part of the world. Because nothing says “time to end centuries of sectarian violence and attempted genocide” like a really awesome poster or leaflet.
Since I worked in an office in one of the nicer installations in the region, we got some perks, such as electricity, running water, and satellite TV. But unfortunately for me and my team mates, we were forbidden to set the TV to any channel except for CNN. And so we got to watch world news on a loop all day while we worked.
At one point the news informed us of a lawsuit that seemed a tad out of the ordinary. Some European dance-pop band had angered Mattel by making a song that seemed to portray Barbie in a less than flattering and chaste fashion. (And on a side note, if a chick has no job, a closet full of designer clothes, and a custom pink corvette she’s sleeping with someone. Or she’s Paris Hilton, which is probably worse)
So we knew about the Barbie Girl song. But CNN only played a tiny 3 second snippet of the song during their story. The song may have been all over the airwaves back in the states, but we hadn’t heard it yet. And somehow, over the course of several days, the entire Product Development Detachment became obsessed with it.
You know how you can sometimes get a part of a song stuck in your head, and the only way to get rid of it is to hear or sing the whole song? That was us. Except that nobody had any way to get a copy of the song out to Sarejevo all that quickly.
After a few weeks of hell, one of our teammates was flown out to Germany for a medical procedure. And while she was there, she managed to buy a copy of the Aqua CD at the PX.
Upon her return the CD was played loudly and repeatedly. And we danced in triumph.
Now, before, many people over the years have asked for a description of the Infamous Barbie Girl Dance. I will just go on record as saying that I was a twenty-three year old, painfully white nerd, dancing with victorious purpose to a bad European pop song.
I’ll let you do the math on how that one looked.
But like many of the things I did while deployed, my co-workers found it funny. Eventually word spread, and soldiers from other sections would stop by, and request to see the dance.
Again for people wondering why, bear in mind when your entertainment options are watch CNN for another hour or watch PFC Skippy do the funky white boy, you might see why the Barbie Girl dance became popular.
On a related note, while we were deployed to Bosnia there where rules about drinking. We were allowed to have beer or wine, but no more than two 12 ounce glasses in one day. As you can probably imagine, those rules where treated as suggestions. And not particularly strongly worded suggestions at that.
And so one day, shortly after my duty shift ended, I was approached by a female reservist. She was a SSG, and sloppily drunk. It should also be noted that when it came to her appearance, she fell somewhere between “Not particularly attractive” and “Kill it! Kill it with fire!”, leaning just a teensy bit towards the later.
“Are you the guy that does the Barbie dance?”
Thinking quickly, I tried to determine whether or not it would be in my best interest to admit that I was. So I came up with a clever answer to stall until I could figure it out.
“Naw you are so that dancin’ guy. I wanna see the dance.”
“I don’t want to dance Sergeant.”
“Well I wanna see you dance. I like men who kin dance.” She that look that drunk people give that they would describe as “smoldering” but everyone else would describe as a “bad-touch party clown leer”.
“Umm, no thanks?” And I tried to step around her.
“Dance for me Private!” She moved to block me in, and clapped her hands like a sultan giving orders to a harem. We were beginning to draw a crowd.
“Sergeant I don’t think–”
“I SAID DANCE BOY! DANCE FOR ME NOW!” She then pushed me into the corner, grabbed me by the shoulders and began to shake me like an angry British nanny.
“Schwarz!” Bellowed my team lead stepping into the vicinity. “What do you think you are doing?”
“He’s gonna DANCE!” Countered the scary reservist.
“I’m sorry Sergeant Scary Behemoth Lady, but my Private is just about to go on duty, and he’s not allowed to perform his famous Barbie Girl dance while on duty. Isn’t that right Schwarz?”
“Then get the hell out of here soldier.”
“But I wanted to see him dance.” She sulked, like the worlds saddest Hutt.
“Yes Sergeant! Thank you Sergeant.”
And with that, I ran away as fast as my legs could carry me.