Jody calls

Dateline: Somewhere in western Washington

Left, left…left, right, left

I left my hub and 48 children alone in the kitchen in starving condition without any gingerbread

Left…left…left, right, left.

I can’t get this ridiculous march out of my head. Why do I even know it?

I just know as each foot hits the pavement, this version of a military chant is stuck in my brain.

On a loop. Can’t hit pause. Can’t erase. Can’t even fast forward.

Think, Em. Think of something else. ANYTHING else. For the love of all that is holy, ANYTHING else.

You’re in the Army now

You’re not behind the plow

You’ll never get rich, you son of a bitch

You’re in the Army now

Really? That’s the best you can do? WTF? Why am I chanting military cadences? I’ve never even seen the inside of a barracks.

Well let me rewind. It all starts as I head out for my Sunday morning run. A mild Northwest day, a little cloudy and just cool enough to make a five-mile run almost comfortable.

I stretch, bid farewell to the fam. Well, the ones who are awake, anyway.

I plug in my earbuds, turn the volume to 11 and get ready to ROCK THIS BITCH.

Back in black, I hit the sack

It’s been too long I’m glad to be back

Yes I’m loose, from…


AW DAMMIT. Barely a minute into my run.

My music source has died. Again. I spend $eleventy-billion dollars on the latest iPhone, and this is the best you can do Apple? A phone that dies if the wind changes.

All I hear is the sound of my feet on the road. I’m in a groove and I don’t want to stop. But I have no music. I have no Siri-like voice telling me how far I’ve gone. What do I do?

I really don’t want to run in silence. I want to rock. I want AC/DC to cut my cake with their knife, whatever that means. I want to hear how I shook them all night long. But now? NOTHING.

Except I can hear one foot after the other. Left, right, left, right, left, right.

Left, left…left, right, left…

Suddenly I hear the echos of this old ‘Jody call’ my friend taught me when we were in grade school. A ‘Jody call’ is a military cadence, named for a recurring character that shows up in many traditional cadences. I actually just learned that. Like today. I had no idea they were referred to as ‘Jody calls’…who the hell is Jody?

Anyway, we would be walking along, and as we matched our stride, we were suddenly participating in a 1940’s Hollywood version of the Army.

Left, left…left, right, left…

I left my hub and 48 children alone in the kitchen without any gingerbread

Left, left…left, right, left.

We would repeat this over. And over. And over. andoverandoverandoverandover.

Who knew, that thirty-some years later, it would come back to haunt me like a politician’s exposed ‘experimental phase’ from college.

And of course there’s the one my dad taught me.

You’re in the Army now

You’re not behind the plow

You’ll never get rich, you son of a bitch

You’re in the Army now

I can still hear my father’s heavily accented Portuguese voice singing this to me at an entirely too young of an age. My friend and I would chant that one with glee because we got to say “son-of-a-bitch” and thought that it was hilarious while proudly marching side-by-side down our decidedly suburban street.

Mile one. Can’t get the chants out of my head. Mile two. Yup, still there,

Miles 3,4 and 5. I am resigned.

I know exactly two military cadences and now they are drilled so far into my brain, it would take a frontal lobotomy with a Draino chaser to flush them out.

So, lesson learned. Don’t go running on a Sunday morning.

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