A Civilian Addresses the USMC

Today is November 10, 2015. The 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. And I have something to get off of my chest.

 

Once, a long time ago, I disliked the United States Marine Corps. I mean, I really didn’t like Marines at all. My disdain had nothing to do with being a liberal punk-ass kid or a dislike of the military. In fact, I’d been actively recruited by various branches of the military after I made the huge mistake of absolutely crushing the ASVAB test. I considered the Navy for a while, as my pops had enlisted back in the day before receiving a medical discharge. I ended up going to college and never joined up with the armed forces of this or any other country. So, right away, my dislike had nothing to do with my peacenik, pussy-ass Democrat leanings.

 

No, it was more the Marines themselves. Specifically, the guys that I knew from my small hometown of Mount Vernon, Indiana. Guys who you either didn’t ever pay attention to in high school or the ones that got the wrong attention, being bullied by the meathead jocks and made to feel inferior. (Hey, it was high school. If you’re one of the lucky ones who never got bullied or made fun of, congrats. Savor that shit.) Some of these kids, though, went off to places like Parris Island, and they came back hard. Too hard. I mean, I get it: you used to get beaten up. Now you can kill a man with your bare hands before he has a chance to even flick his cigarette. Good for you. The problem was that some of these guys didn’t wield their new powers with class or grace. They were every bad supervillain from the comics. “Remember me? Remember stuffing me into that locker? Remember all those wedgies?! Do you? DO YOU?! NOW YOU WILL TASTE TRUE POWER! “ They were living out the fantasies of the victim.  “One day I’ll learn karate and teach you all a lesson.” (Although as I type this, it occurs to me that maybe if more kids enlisted, we’d have fewer Columbines.)

 

Those guys. Those guys sucked. Those guys became the thing they hated. Those guys, with their ridiculous high and tight haircuts. Those guys would get into deliberate fights just to prove how tough they were, how less-weak, all thanks to the miracle of the USMC. Those guys are the reason why I was prejudiced against jarheads.

 

But then something happened. My wife and I moved to New Bern, North Carolina in 2001. We got down there literally the week after 9/11 to start a new life. Holy shit, was that scary. New Bern happens to be about twenty or so minutes up the road from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, and about forty or so minutes from both New River MCAS and Camp Lejeune. We were right in the middle of Marine Country as it was ramping up to full deployment mode. It was nuts, especially to a lifelong civilian from the Midwest. I must also admit that the atmosphere was fairly exciting. You just haven’t lived until you’ve found yourself at the Taco Bell drive-through in Havelock, NC trying to shout your chalupas order over the deafening roar of the Harrier hovering in mid-air half a mile away.

 

During that time, I started making friends with various folks, either through my work in radio or socially though roller hockey and surfing. And I was shocked…SHOCKED! to discover that many of these folks were actual active-duty Marines. And they were…well, they were awesome. Hell, even the retired (de-commissioned is a better word, as they were always going to be Marines) USMC guys at work were amazing. Funny, smart, confident, disciplined. I was welcomed into some of their circles, playing roller hockey outdoors aboard MCAS New River while Cobras and Ospreys flew overhead. Spending Thanksgivings aboard MCAS Cherry Point. Attending Carolina Hurricane games in Raleigh and minor league baseball in Kinston. Eating at Waffle House in the wee hours of the morning after a night of boozing it up. Kegstands at a party at the off-base civilian lodgings of some young Marines. (They pooled their housing allowance for a two-room apartment to save the rest for video games, stereos, and yes, beer.) I made some lifelong friends during my time in NC, and it’s safe to say that at least half of them were/are Marines.

 

I’ve learned some things. The first is that it is absolutely ludicrous to base your judgment of any group on the behavior of a select few. I’m frankly embarrassed by the prejudicial views of my youth. I was no better than the racist who points at the TV any time a black man is shown in cuffs and hisses “Goddam blacks. Fuckin’ let ‘em kill each other.” Or another recent example, where I called someone out on Facebook for asserting that all Muslims are terrorists that hate Christianity. I asked him how many actual Muslims he knew. His reply? “I don’t need to know any, because I can see what they do with my own eyes.” I shake my head at this type of idiot. I would shake my head at my own ignorant, adolescent stupidity.

 

That being said, here’s another generalization. Hockey people and Marines are the groups that I’ve encountered that have the highest percentage of all-around superiority. True greatness. Stout hearts, loyalty, courage, generosity, compassion, strength, intelligence…all of it. Sure, there are going to be turds in any subset. I know some hockey guys that have failed humanity again and again. But most of them are stand-up men and women. Same thing for Marines. There will always be that asshole wearing his cover out of uniform in the hopes that a civilian will ask “were you in the Marines?” But there will also be a staff sergeant in civilian clothes asking the stranger, a woman at her wits’ end with two screaming kids and a flat tire, where she keeps her jack as he strips off his blazer and opens the trunk.

 

I guess this was all my way of apologizing. Of saying “Sorry, Marines, that I ever doubted you.” I will never again. Thank you for your service, Devil Dogs. And Happy Birthday. Semper Fi. Oo-rah.

 

That is all. Carry on.

 

String Theory, Gun Control, and How it All Really Doesn’t Matter

Well, now that right there is a title.  Ain’t it grand? On Facebook I solicited ideas for blog subjects, and my buddy and occasional teammate and verbal sparring-partner Luke gave me that one.  I thought it pretty much summed everything up, so here we are!

But, of course, it does matter.  Not going to delve too much into a discussion about the multiverse, but here’s the thing about time/space: it’s constant and already there.  Imagine a map of the United States, and straight railroad line from New Jersey to California.  The railway itself is time, carrying us towards some future destination.  We see the landscape pass by and that how we perceive or measure time.  But here’s the thing:  just because we leave New Jersey behind (and for good reason.  I KEED!) doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.  It’s still right there, but our train is going full steam ahead.  All the States we pass though are like days, weeks, years that we’ve traveled through.  They still exist, right where we left ’em.  The trick is getting the train to stop and backing ‘er up.  Is it possible? I think so.  But in order to do that you must lay down some new tracks and leave the old railway behind.  And when you do that, you’ve just created another new set of possibilities.  This happens anyway, every time you make a choice.  Every time you decide to go back to sleep instead of getting up, order Dr. Pepper instead of Coke, watch the rerun of The Jeffersons instead of going for a walk.  There’s an alternate timeline where you kissed your high school crush at that dance instead of chickening out.  And in that reality, you ended up getting married to your crush and having two kids before seeing your marriage fall apart and within that reality there’s also one where you reconcile and end up being married for 60 years and seeing your grandkids go to college.  And one where you murder your true love.  Damn.  Thanks, Luke…you’ve just brought everyone down.  Asshole.  I love you.  (Even though this section really didn’t deal with string theory or gun control.)

He looks so cute when he's all victorious and stuff.

He looks so cute when he’s all victorious and stuff.

Okay, next we have Joe Schultz (whose own idea to crowd-source his blog was the inspiration for this one.)  He says to write about the band Rush.  Dude…did you even read the last paragraph?  Tell me that wasn’t basically the blog version of “Freewill?”  Or maybe “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” since the ORIGINAL story concept had Snow Dog losing.  Plus, By-Tor shows up  in “Caress of Steel” and kills the Necromancer so that the three travelers can escape, which means he’s the hero of the story. See, who knows if he would’ve made that sort of decision if he hadn’t been literally taught a lesson by the defeat at the hands of Snow Dog?

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for "By-Tor" on Google.

I swear to God, this is one of the top-8 images for “By-Tor” on Google.

Jesus, this thing is turning out to be a lot geekier than I had planned.  Okay, how about we hear from a lady?  Kellie wants my thoughts on crispy bacon v. chewy bacon.  Dude.  I don’t know what chewy bacon is all about because I won’t eat the filthy motherfucker.  That shit better not even make it to my plate less’n you wanna feel my PIMP HAND.  (I am 100% legit, folks.  No brag.  Just fact.)

Who the hell would ever even try to market "chewy bacon?"  Makes no goddam sense.

Who the hell would ever even try to market “chewy bacon?” Makes no goddam sense.

Brandin’s question is whether “liking” your own status is the same as laughing at your own joke.  It is.  It totally is, and Joe Schultz does it ALL. THE. TIME.  Then again, Joe needs me to explain to him when things are funny.  True story.

This is actually Joe's profile picture.

This is actually Joe’s profile picture.

USMC and Royal Marine air-traffic controller and all-around officer and gentleman Rob (true story: he’s so bad-ass that he’s actually commanded Marines for two different COUNTRIES.  You’ll never be that awesome, so don’t even try) wants to ponder “Crazy dreams about having to pee because your body is trying to wake you up to go before you wet the bed.” This would really be a good question for Dream Analyst Lauri Loewenberg.  It’s hard for me to really speak about with any sort of experience, because I usually just pass out and wake up in a pool of my own piss and blood. Often, upon awakening, I discover that I’m clutching what seems to be some sort of scalp or pelt.  Weird.

Uh-oh!  Gotta go potty!

Uh-oh! Gotta go potty!

I also had some more musical suggestions, so I’ll cover them all at once.  Joseph (not Joe Schultz) said to write about how excited I am for the Social Distortion show at Piere’s in Ft. Wayne on June 29th.  Extremely.  I’ve seen them before, but to have a legendary band like that playing in our backyard is so wonderful.  Darryl suggested that I wrote about the differences in various styles of Heavy Metal.  The problem is, I’m really not a big “metal” fan.  I prefer punk.  Or Rush.  Plus, as a guy who’s never really followed the genre, I don’t know whether some things I like actually are considered “metal.”  Five Finger Death Punch certainly seems like metal to me, but is a lot more enjoyable than much of what Drew Cage plays on Bear Metal every Saturday at 10m on 98.9 the Bear and online at 989thebear.com!  Sure, there are several bands I can get behind…old-school stuff like Slayer and cheeseball stuff like Manowar…Atreyu seems pretty rad for a more modern band…but, yeah.  That’s pretty much it.

This.  This I know.

This. This I know.

Honorable mentions:  2-ply v. 3-ply toilet paper (see also:  crispy bacon v. chewy bacon), my friends Nick and Shannon getting married, how much fun I had at the last FWDG bout, how I resist the societal pressure to “grow up” and act like a 42-year-old, and the Boston bombings.  Some of these things make me happy, others make me sad, and (other than the toilet paper thing) all deserve more time/space/respect than I can afford at this point.  So, go enjoy the weather and we’ll catch up later, mmmkay?  Thanks!