birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Olive Drab

The first part of my outfit was a haircut. My head was shaved down to the white skin of my scalp. Next I was handed a tee shirt size XXXL even though I weighed only 200 pounds and easily fit into an XL. "Regulations, son. It says if you are 6'2" or more 3X. Take it."

The next part of my outfit were the fatigue pants. Same color as the tee shirt. Pockets on the sides. Who knows what I was going to put in them. Size XXXL. "That's what a belt is for, son" Oh.

Next. A shirt and the same color. ROBERTSON was stitched on it above the right pocket. How did they get my name on it correct so quickly? The shirt which I learned soon enough was a "blouse" had two front pockets and two large side pockets and hung, untucked, outside of the (belted) pants. The pockets were gigantic. They had ugly seams in them that allowed them to open into larger compartments should more room be needed to put whatever treasures I might have in them. During my entire time in the army I never put one item in those immense pockets.

We are now getting to the nitty-gritty of my outfit. Socks. Also XL and also to my wondering eye they were thick and woolen. Perfect because I was in North Carolina in June and the temperature was close to 100 degrees every day! My boots are next. Heavy. All leather. Thick soles which turned out to be useful since these boots were made for walking.....and polishing!

And finally, to literally top off my outfit, i was given the hat. A baseball style cap in the same color. I never wore that hat one time. Not once in the entire 10 weeks of Basic Training because our hat was not a hat but a helmet. The helmet was not issued to me on this, my first day in the Army. But, I had a hat.

So there I was dressed from scalped white head to woolen clad toe in the Army's finest outfit. The color was singular and as monochromatic as its official name: Olive Drab.


My Mother's Mother