Cold Warrior

(“She loved me for the dangers I had pass’d,
And I loved her that she did pity them.”
Othello
, William Shakespeare)

To train you not to crack under hostile interrogation,
they shoved your six-foot frame into a foot-long locker,
buried you alive,
then headed off for a long cocktail lunch
at the officers’ club.
When finally exhumed,
you smiled and said,
“Did you give my phone number
to the waitress who looks like Rita Hayworth?”

The closest you came to enemy collaboration
was an intimate debriefing from a Soviet spy. 
A dead ringer for Elizabeth Taylor,
she got nothing from you
except a fake ruby, diamond, and sapphire necklace
you chose deliberately for its patriotic American colors.
The Cold War already won way back then
when you nuked her heart.

On high alert during the Hungarian and Cuban Missile crises,
you missed your children’s birthdays, ballgames, and ballet recitals.
A man most unsuited for diaper changing and Mr. Mom parenting.
(Eagles should soar, not nest.)
Once, during the height of the women’s movement,
someone asked if you attended Lamaze training with your wife.
“Is that the Grand Prix auto race in France?” you wondered.
Ultimately vindicated when you heard  
the good doctor of childbirth
learned his trade from the communists.

You loved the hell out of Vietnam.
Bombing runs in the mornings
Beach volleyball in the afternoons
Operations Arc Light, Rolling Thunder, and Linebacker
temporarily delayed the mutually assured destruction of your marriage.
Forget Warren Beatty.
You knew Carly’s song was about you.

And yet….

In this era
of pajama boys and man buns
many women like me still prefer
your brand of “toxic” masculinity
to the more tepid kind.
You were always
more sweetheart than scoundrel.

Now in your eighties,
you thrill me
with your adventure stories,
and I imagine you as a young man.
Even now
if they gave you
a bomber,
precision payload,
and pin-up picture
of a young Raquel Welch,
you’d fly off into the sky’s blue topaz tapestry,
the exact same color of your eyes,
and take care of that bastard
in North Korea.

2 Discussions on
“Cold Warrior”
  • Wow, Dana. This is so perfect and such a tribute to the man!!! A man with history and stories is so much better than a man with “feelings”.

    • Thanks, Pat! You worked with Gordon for years and know him well. He’s still at Lake Martin selling real estate at 87! He told me to say hi to you the next time we spoke.