• But if you didn't have more urgent things to do after supper [in boot camp], you could write a letter, loaf, gossip, discuss the myriad mental shortcomings of sergeants and, dearest of all, talk about the female of the species (we became convinced that there was no such creatures, just mythology created by inflamed imaginations - one boy in our company claimed to have seen a girl, over at regimental headquarters; he was unanimously judged a liar and a braggart).