So I told Paul a story the other day and, over many drinks, decided that things like this should be written down. The many drinks thing is pretty normal for us as are a great many horrible things that we have done to ourselves in the name of freedom, patriotism and bacon, the three greatest things to come out of America. Now, unlike my compatriot, who left the military, probably because he is a secret enemy of America who drinks tea instead of coffee, I AM still in the Marine Corps. He and I were in the same company at Officer Candidate School, the same company in The Basic School, the same platoon at artillery school and then the same battalion in the fleet where we suffered together in the hellish wastes of the High Desert. Despite what Call of Duty and the Transformers movies have led you to believe, being in the military is not all high speed chases, shooting guns while falling out of a helicopter onto a soft pile of orphans and giant robots chasing a shrieking Shia LaBeouf.
Being in the Marine Corps is a constant test of your patience and a reminder that I make horrible life decisions. Like the time I went to Oklahoma City with Paul and Steve. Things happen. People vomit behind movie theaters. Shirts mysteriously get peed on. You know how it goes…. no? Is that not… nevermind.
Anyway, as anyone who has been in the military can probably attest to, the average person loves to ask awkward, awe-filled questions as if you are Rambo himself and they assume that you are a super-duper, special black ops ninja who is one wrong word away from a PTSD melt-down in which you kill everyone on the airplane with your insoles. This can be awkward for you. Almost as awkward as when someone thanks you for your service. This is the height of awkwardness for me. How do I respond to that? Do I bravely shake their hand while an American flag softly billows in the background and Chuck Norris stands in the corner, arms crossed, slowly nodding approvingly? Or do I modestly thank them for their support of our brave men and women? No. No, I usually sheepishly avert my eyes, scratch my head and mumble a pitiful thanks and then act like my phone rang and run away to the nearest airport Cinnabon.
There are many of these questions that can have a pretty cool answer. Most, however, would make the average civilian raise their eyebrows in shock and think, “Really? These idiots are in charge of defending our freedom? Holy shit, we’re fucked.” So this will be my forum to either spill my guts on the reality of what I thought would be the greatest parts of the military or answer questions that you, the noble reader, want to ask.