“Do Take Every Opportunity to Tell ‘The Army Story'”

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“Here are some of the things you need to know.” Gooding handed Pilley a card, laminated to slip smoothly into and out of his wallet, with a bulleted list of do’s and don’ts.

Pilley stared at the card like it had the answers to the algebra final exam. He licked his white lips and coughed multiple times.

• Do sit up straight in the chair

• Do wear glasses if you can’t see without them

• Do use frequent but natural hand gestures

• Do smile (when appropriate)

• Do look concerned and sincere (when appropriate)

• Do take every opportunity to “tell the Army story”

• Don’t speculate about things you don’t know (“Stay in your lane!!”)

• Don’t tap dance around difficult questions

• Don’t roll or shift your eyes

• Don’t let the reporter put words in your mouth

• Don’t conduct the interview on an empty stomach

• Don’t consume flatulence-producing foods (beans, raw vegetables, et cetera) twelve hours prior

• Don’t give vivid descriptions of “kills” that may be shocking to nonmilitary individuals

• Don’t ever forget: “We are WINNING the Global War on Terrorism”

That’s from David Abrams’s novel Fobbit, excerpted this week over at Recommended Reading. 

For additional reading, check out our recent interview with Abrams, in which he talks shop about the Iraq War, military jargon, and finding the humor in terrible situations.


Rebecca Rubenstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Midnight Breakfast. When not reading books made of paper, she can be found thinking aloud on Twitter. She resides in San Francisco and maintains a healthy relationship with the fog. Rebecca is Interviews Editor Emeritus for The Rumpus. More from this author →