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It's party time! Maybe you've just gotten promoted or have a bachelor or bachelorette party to attend. Perhaps your eccentric great uncle died and left you a small fortune and his haunted manor. Or you just got back from a deployment with a fat wad of hazard pay burning a hole through your pockets.
Early November is a magical time of year. The Halloween decorations are finally starting to be put away and cardboard cutouts of turkeys in Pilgrim hats are taking their place. People begin to stop enjoying the number of unseasonably warm days and start worrying about how hard winter's going to hit when it finally does. News networks start endlessly airing stories about the horrors of Black Friday even though nobody actually buys stuff in physical stores anymore because it's 2015. Folks in places like California and Florida experience no changes in weather or lifestyle whatsoever, but to hell with them.
Many moons ago, I dispensed some key pieces of advice on how to survive a zombie apocalypse. Most of them were aimed at my fellow veterans, but all were definitely sound suggestions to anyone who still serves, has served, or any zombie-wary and well-prepared civilians.
We've all had that moment. Maybe sitting at dinner with a well-meaning family member, maybe with an over-eager gal or guy you were chatting up at a bar one night, or perhaps just a friendly weirdo who recognized an embarrassing shirt or service tattoo on the subway one day. Whatever the circumstances, there isn't a single veteran I've ever met who hasn't, at least once, been asked the eternal question of the civilian acquaintance: "So, did you ever kill anyone?"
It's probably fair to say that anyone reading this has a fair share of both civilian and military acquaintances. Friends even, if you don't happen to be overly unlikable or unhygienic. And, while veterans and civilians are equally swell types of chums to have, there are more than a few differences between them. The way you interact, relate, and occasionally frolic with your battle buddies will not always be the same as with your friends who never bore the responsibilities and bad haircuts of military service.
It's a familiar sensation for all veterans. That tense, roiling pit in the center of your stomach. The pounding of your heart in your temples. The first twitching sensation of sweat beginning to bead all over your body. All wrapped around the big, twisting ball of tension that you know means something big is about to go down, and not only can you not stop it, but you know you'll be swept up in it and have to struggle with all your strength to get through. And all while you’re surrounded by an impenetrable fog of pumpkin spice and hordes of shrieking, greedy children. That's right, it's holiday shopping season. And hell hath no fury like a youngster without just the right Lego.