A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (Georgia) a weird wonderful thing happened. Hang in there, this is a strange story.
While doing my time with the WACS, all 150 of us were sent on TDY to Fort Benning, GA, for some military reason. I had been there once before to see my brother Jack when he was in OCS. (That's Temporary Duty, TDY and OCS, Officer Candidate School.)
No matter. We females were more or less mid-summer entertainment for the male officers to be. Which was okay...I had no intention of joining up at that time.
We toured a helicopter. We saw a loud fake raid on a Vietcong held village, all bullets and smoke and screaming. Very realistic and scary. I thought of my brother being in the middle of that and cringed.
Anyway, they (the military) threw a dance for us, so we could mingle with these guys who faced officership and eventual shipping off to Vietnam. Which, as most of us felt at the time (1970) was a death warrant. Yes. Everybody was afraid to get drafted and sent to where so many people were being killed. It was "don't flunk out of college and get sent to Nam to die". Really. The attitude was funereal.
So, here I am in the middle of nowhere Georgia on an army base, trying to enjoy being with so many young good-looking single guys who might die in six months.
I danced. I really danced with anybody who asked me.
So, while dancing, I think I laughed at something my partner said, and replied, "Oh, that's cake."
A common response in my neck of the woods, meaning--that's cool or good or easy. Yeah, that's cake. Like, a piece of cake, which as we all agree, is quite good.
This other guy follows me from the dance floor and politely asks me where I'm from. I tell him New Jersey. He laughs.
"I'm from Jersey, too."
"Where did you go to school?"
"Hey, my brother graduated from there three years ago. He was here in Benning couple of years ago."
Guy shakes his head. "Small world."
I ask him where he lived. He says "Manasquan."
Startled, I say that Odette, my big sister in the sorority was from there and name her. He doesn't know her, but he's smiling. Kept saying "Jersey girl."
I then remember my little sister in the sorority, Jenny, is also from Manasquan.
The guy lets out a whoop! "She lives next door to me!"
Wow. We spent the next few hours together, just enjoying one another's company. He was a sweet guy. I knew so much about him by the end of the dance. Sigh. But the dance was over and we females had to beat it to the bus or get in major bullshit trouble.
I don't remember his name. I think at the time I just wanted to be his friend and fellow Jerseyan and had that link to Rutgers and my brother. I didn't want to know his name, I guess, because I didn't want to know he never made it back to Jersey.
But...it was a good thing. It was a sweet, innocent, happy acquaintance because of one simple word. I cannot ever forget the way I felt, the understanding, the instant connection, even if I cannot remember his name. I do hope, however, that he remembers that evening fondly.
All for the value of cake.