Jean Sings Of Chocolate And Cat Calendars At WarCommentary • ISSUE 39•13 • Apr 9, 2003 By Jean Teasdale – A Room Of Jean's Own Back when I worked at the Fashion Bug, I'd sometimes read the daily paper they had in the break room. So, ever since getting laid off, I've kind of fallen behind on current events. Actually, that's not quite true. I do have a new source of news: Hubby Rick's T-shirts! And when he started wearing his "Sodamn Insane" and "Whaq Iraq" T-shirts about a month ago, I knew war with Iraq was inevitable. In the past few weeks, Rick and his boozehound buddy Craig have been sitting around discussing the war like they're a couple of five-star generals, complaining that didn't the Army do this or bomb that. (I swear, I think I've rearranged the Beanie Baby collection in our bedroom four times trying to avoid their yammering! I hope the war ends soon, because I'm not sure I can improve on the way I have the Beanies set up now, with Bongo The Monkey serving tea to Slowpoke The Sloth on this adorable mini wicker dinette set as Legs The Frog and Ziggy The Zebra spoon in a little wooden gazebo, and the rest of them sit perched on the headboard over my side of the bed holding a banner that reads, "Sweet Dreams, Jean.") Now, Rick has the right to talk about military strategy all he wants, but if you ask me, I think it's in poor taste to talk about jet fighters and battle plans when so many lives are at stake. Instead of all that dangerous stuff, I've decided to focus my attentions on an aspect of the war that I, and most everyone else, can better relate to: the human side. First, I think it is soooo important to support our troops 100 percent! All of them are sacrificing their lives for us, and we need to bolster their morale and show them we care, so that later on they don't scream at us for our spare change like the Vietnam War veterans. As for me, I am honored to personally know a troop: my nephew Nathan, the son of my half-sister Monica, who's an Army private first-class stationed in one of the Arabian countries. To cheer him up and remind him that those on the home front are totally behind him, I recently prepared a special box of goodies. Not to brag, but I think I really outdid myself with this care-package thing. I put a lot of thought and planning into it, and it lifted my spirits to know I was lifting someone else's. When choosing items for Nathan's care package, I tried hard to put myself in his place: If I were thousands of miles away from home in a barren, sun-scorched desert, what would I want to receive? The answer was obvious: things that reminded me of home, of course! The first item I included, I confess, wasn't the most practical thing in the world: a pair of water wings! But Nathan has come to expect that kind of zaniness from his Aunt Jean. (It's also to remind him that even though things are tough, there's always room in this world for laughter. We can't let the Osamas of the world break our spirit. Do you hear that, Osamas?) Next, I included a kitty-cat calendar for Nathan to hang over his bunk. (Just a little something to remind him who we're fighting for!) I admit, I was reluctant to part with it, since May featured a darling trio of Burmese kittens peeking out of a picnic basket. But war means making sacrifices, and there are always other kitty calendars. (Unless the war lasts a long time and they have to be rationed. God forbid!) After that, I added a bouquet of silk flowers. All right, all right, I know what you're thinking: "How could you do that to your nephew? When he pulls those flowers out of the box, his platoon will give him no end of grief!" That's where you're wrong. They're out in the desert where there's scarcely any vegetation. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that after all these weeks on the sand, those he-men in uniform are dying to see a flower right now. They may not be real, but silk flowers are nearly as beautiful and could really liven up Nathan's drab tent. Plus, before I packed them, I gave them a good dousing of Emeraude cologne so they'd smell extra flowery. Again, I hate to toot my own horn, but thanks to me, not only does Nathan have flowers, but he's also probably the only soldier in the Army with his own puppet theater! I found these darling zoo-critter hand puppets at a going-out-of-business sale at Zany Brainy, and I cleverly painted the outside of the care-package box to look like a little stage. Think of all the creative flights of fancy he'll have! It sure beats moping around his tent waiting to be shipped to the front. What else? Well, besides the obligatory aromatherapy candles, potpourri jars, and bath salts, no military care package is complete without–you've got me pegged by now, don't you, Jeanketeers?–a batch of my heaven-on-a-plate chocolatey concoctions! And, boy howdy, did I ever outdo myself this time! As if visited by the Baking Angel, divine inspiration hit me, and I quickly improvised my grandest creation yet: "Operation: Mmmmm!" brownies. The recipe? Well, I'm afraid that information is classified. But I'll tell you this: Never before have chocolate, butter, eggs, flour, cream cheese, Karo syrup, molasses, peanut butter, coffee, orange-juice concentrate, Heath bars, and crushed peppermint candy worked so well together! Besides care packages, there's more you can do for our soldiers in the Gulf. Send off those canned goods that have been collecting dust on your shelf. Ship them some of your old clothes. Write them long, involved letters about yourself. (They looove getting letters!) These are just off the top of my head–I'm sure you can think of plenty more!