Charissa Thompson is a sports and entertainment personality. But she’s also made a name for herself by doing splits on TV. She once did a split at the U.S. Air Force Academy. That proved to be an entertaining show but it also reminded me of one of the most awkward experiences I had while in the U.S. Army.
I first learned of Charissa Thompson while I watched SportsNation during its first few years. And I watched live when SportsNation went to the U.S. Air Force Academy where Charissa performed a split while in a flight uniform.
Charissa’s demonstration of her flexibility at the Air Force Academy was particularly amusing because when you watch the video, you’ll see she’s performing on stage in front of an Air Force general (a three-star, I think).
He doesn’t seem very comfortable up there with her and his future female officers in their cheerleader uniforms, does he?
And the general’s apparent consternation reminded me of one of the most awkward incidents I had in my Army career.
The year was twenty aught something, and I was at my first unit in Owings Mills, Md. I was a Reservist and it was our December battle assembly (drill). The unit was holding its Christmas—ahem, Holiday—Party, with soldiers and their family members in attendance. The unit commander at the time was a female lieutenant colonel who was a kindergarten teacher in the civilian world.
At one point, the lieutenant colonel decided that the unit would have a “fun” activity in which it would wrap her up in wrapping paper to make her a holiday gift.
If you ever want an embarrassing situation, try wrapping a battalion commander / kindergarten teacher / elderly gal in giftwrap for a “fun” activity. It’s absolutely awful.
So when I saw the Air Force lieutenant general at the Air Force Academy while he watched Charissa Thompson do a split, I empathized with him.
I don’t mean that our situations were the same because they weren’t.
The lieutenant general was likely worried about the constant sexual assault allegations that now plague the entire armed forces while he stood with his female cheerleaders and watched the lithe Charissa. Meanwhile, I squirmed at having to endure watching my commanding officer being wrapped up in wrapping paper and a bow while lying on the floor.
But I can empathize with him in the sense that he was in an uncomfortable situation and so was I.
None of this is a criticism of Charissa Thompson, by the way. Her Air Force Academy split was beautiful. And so were the rest of them before she retired from demonstrating her flexibility on TV.
Image at Top: Charissa Thompson does a split at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2012. Screen shot.