Monday, January 8, 2024

Oh, I Gallivanted

As a military brat, you learn and use a combination of jargon, acronyms, foreign languages, and militarisms daily. Soon after learning how to tell time based on the position of Mickey’s hands, I learned that the hours after noon had twelve added to them. Instead of it being two in the afternoon it was 1400. If they expected you to do something in a hurry, you did it ASAP — as soon as possible. Also, being the son of a Vietnam veteran, I was familiar with di di mau - go quickly.

Aside from all of that, certain archaic terms were still used on every base I was ever stationed at - as a dependent or serviceman. One that recently came to mind was gallivant. My first memory of this term was when I was old enough to have a backyard sleepover with a group of friends. We used that opportunity to roam the neighborhood. Of course, when you have a father who is used to dealing with troops who wandered off, we should’ve expected to get caught during our wanderings. It was upon getting caught that I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to gallivant all over God’s creation when I was supposed to be in the backyard.

Unlike many other terms that were used during my childhood, the usage of the term gallivant and the formal Oxford definition (to go around from one place to another in the pursuit of pleasure or entertainment) is more or less the same. I’ll admit I did a lot of gallivanting while growing up, and even as I got older. Of course, most gallivanting ended without reaching a specific goal or objective. As with all great odysseys, the journey was the destination. Wandering around for wandering’s sake.

Civilian kids did this as well. They were just roaming, kicking around, cruising, or just looking for something to do. On the whole, gallivanting is something that everybody is does at some point during their life. However, as a third culture (military brat) we were given a specific term used by few others. I’m okay with that. It also sounds a little classier than the other terms.

When I mentioned this recently on a military brat discussion board, the recognition of the term was almost universal. It led to an outpouring of different stories of gallivanting on and off base. One person even related that the term was expanded to a single-word phrase: Quichyergallivanting. I think I remember hearing that a time or two, I kept on gallivanting every chance I got.


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