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Happy April Fools’ Day, readers. Stay on guard today for pranksters and jokers of all kind, especially close family members. By the end of the day, I will surely be “April Fooled” out by Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie.

Having said that, I’m going to be sillier than usual this week and report some of the misguided tales that have traveled the camouflage rumor mill as we have faced moving to a new duty station.

I am also going to pass along some true bits of info as well.

Before we went to Okinawa in the summer of 1993, Ron and I were repeatedly told that there was no steak on the island, or at least none worth eating. So whenever a well-meaning friend offered to take us out for a farewell dinner, we automatically chose steak restaurants.

Obviously, the people who had warned us of the steakless island had never heard of Kobe beef. We arrived there to find no shortage of steak, although it was a while before we wanted any.

Ron and I were familiar with the intensity of life in Northern Virginia long before we were ever stationed here. Everyone around us seems to be in a hurry, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ron has quickly caught up with the pace of life around here, whereas I’m in someone’s way the minute I step out my door.

The only difference between living in this area 10 years ago versus now is that there are more people rushing to and fro, and now they have cellular phones attached to their ears.

I have not only encountered several instances of road rage but also what I have decided to refer to as “commissary rage.” Heading up the produce aisle one morning, I overheard another shopper say to her husband, “I’m gonna punch somebody before I get out of here.”

Lucky for me, she was headed in the opposite direction, and I gave her plenty of room to pass. I looked around and tried to figure out which person she planned to punch — me, or the World War II veteran picking out bananas a few feet away.

The hurried pace of life here is opposite the laid-back, “no worries” attitude I savored for two years in San Diego. I stopped wearing a watch as soon as we got there and haven’t put one on since.

Ron still refers to California as “the land of fruits and nuts,” but I felt right at home there.

People had warned me about the freeways before we moved to San Diego. I was afraid to drive on them for months and took out-of-the-way side roads instead. Finally, I was brave enough to hit the freeways during the middle of the day when there was hardly any traffic and discovered I loved speeding down all those lanes with my windows open and the stereo blasting.

Pamio Andretti was born.

I kept a keen eye out for those California Highway Patrol officers, however, because one speeding ticket would have led to a lifetime of “ChiPs” jokes from my brother. I can just hear him now asking who stopped me, Ponch or Jon!

I haven’t said anything about our three years in Texas, probably because it lived up to its reputation in every way I can recall. San Antonio definitely has the best food of anywhere we have lived, which is probably why it is listed in the top 10 fattest cities every year.

Those of you who will be moving to North Carolina soon have more to look forward to than hush puppies and iced tea. There is a long, beautiful coastline and the best universities on the planet.

Plus, it’s my home state — the person who reminded you that today is April Fools’ Day — so you’d better keep your guard up!

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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