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My Tough and Explosive Wife


Let me begin by saying, I love my wife. I do.

But I am also aware that when Carmela is unduly provoked – as I have done more than once – the results can be immediate and profound. Carmela doesn’t suffer fools. As a person who sometimes acts foolishly, I understand completely.

So when Carmela showed up with a T-shirt that said “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY,” I thought maybe that might be a little aggressive. Especially, when she was looking straight at me.

FRONT TOWARD ENEMY  is exactly that same military warning that is printed on Claymore mines, first introduced to combat troops in Vietnam, when I was a soldier. When you set off a Claymore it sprays soft lead pellets out in an arc with a kill and maim radius of 100 yards. Although we had them available, we never used them once during my tour of duty.


So why would my loving wife, the girl of my dreams, be wearing a Claymore mine T-shirt? I was almost afraid to ask, since she was looking straight at me.

Carmela is half Sicilian and half Calabresi. Sicily is that island off the toe of the boot of the Italian peninsula. Calabria – at it’s narrowest point is about three miles across the Strait of Messina that separates the island from the mainland. Although both Sicilians and Calabresi are tough folks, they have different dialects, different cuisine, and distinctive ideas about the world.

Despite that heritage, Carmela can be a real softie. She picks up earthworms that have strayed onto the sidewalk after a heavy rain and puts them back in the grass, she loves all animals, including birds, bees, insects, spiders, and even me.

So why the “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” shirt?

Here is her explanation:

For Carmela, “FRONT TOWARD ENEMY” means recognize evil and stupidity and confront it. Sometimes it’s a person or an idea or a practice and sometimes it’s the person you see in the mirror, who needs to examine her own motivation and actions that fall short of the person she wishes to be.

That explanation works for me. That’s the woman I married.

And it’s the woman I love.

– George Lee Cunningham

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