The truth behind the general’s smile

Back when I was at St. Joseph Boys High School sometime in the ’60s — at least I think it was the ’60s — our primary preoccupation after sines and cosines, mortal sins and venial sins, was meeting chicks, which was hard to do in a boys high school.

I know that doesn’t sound as high-minded as, say, translating Caesar’s Gallic Wars in Latin class, but it was a priority nonetheless and one that I and my classmates took seriously.

Many years later, I’m forced to admit my success rate would have been better if I had known that the best way to attract chicks is to have stars and bars on your chest or shoulders, or wherever generals put those things.

Who knew? I was just a kid, and a pacifist at that, who believed we should make love not war, so becoming a four-star general like David Petraeus was as appealing a career choice as becoming pope — and then meeting chicks would be virtually impossible because I’d be praying all day or hearing confessions from generals who broke the sixth commandment.

Instead, my misguided adolescent mind thought girls were turned on by sensitive poets, which I pretended to be by writing verse in the tradition of Rod McKuen, the heartthrob, syrupy bard, who was a bad poet but made all the girls weepy.

I have to conclude that Gen. Petraeus and Gen. George Allen, his sidekick in amorous adventures, made really smart career choices. Look how successful they’ve been. They attracted more groupies than Led Zeppelin.Then, I’d walk from class to class with volumes of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound under my arm. Not that I understood their poetry, but it sure made me look intellectual. If I could do it all over again, I’d join ROTC or the WACS and dress like Gen. George Patton and carry a riding crop.

Anyway, you know the story. They were like frat boys on Friday night, and while the country was falling apart, Gen. Petraeus was working on his biography with his mistress, Paula Broadwell. Now I know why he always had that smile on his face.

I have to conclude that biography writing can get you into a lot of trouble, so if I ever compose my memoirs, I’ll be sure to collaborate with my retired Latin teacher.

After paramour Ms. Broadwell sent threatening email to another Gen. Petraeus gal pal, Jill Kelley, she squealed to the FBI, and it reminded me of high school, when the cheerleaders got into nasty fights over who was dating the quarterback.

Ms. Kelley, who was a four-star Tampa socialite known for kissing and hugging the military brass, exchanged thousands of “flirtatious” email with Gen. Allen. She was an unpaid ambassador to the military, a so-called “liaison” — why do those French words always sound like they have something to do with sex?

The lesson here is that sensitive poet types don’t have a prayer in the ground war for chicks because women like Ms. Broadwell prefer powerful playboys, great leaders, guys with guns.

So heed this advice, all you high school lads who want to meet girls. Forget the brooding intellectual type. Get out your canteen, polish your bayonet, put on your mother’s army boots and start parading around the football field. You never know what you’ll attract.