Transcribed from a Facebook IM Chat session I recently had with my best (perhaps only) Friend:
“Talking to you about Great Mistakes Naval Training Center reminded of a pleasant memory…
Of A Woman—I know—difficult to fathom while listening to all my other ‘Sea-Stories’, but this one is a ‘no-shitter.’ Just trust me.
There were no less than two-thousand sailors stationed at Great Mistakes… but only one Marine: a beautiful young She-Marine.
She stood out!
Far From The Madding Crowd!
Easy to spot from half a clik away—she wore camouflaged fatigues.
Now, you can only begin to understand the fascination this young She-Marine held for the rest of us…
(I may need to write more on her Odyssey. She was the quintessential elusive butterfly—two thousand sailors just wanted to get close enough to speak to her—during the six months she was there—I hope she landed well)
To my knowledge, no one ever got close enough to discover her name; we just always called her “The Marine.”
No one, and I mean no ONE, ever accosted her.
For if someone ever had, that moment would have been his last.
For you see, we were all very protective of her.
And she was protected.
Very well protected, even if she didn’t know it.
(Turns out, she finally did–come to know it–thanks to a moron.
I’ll give you three guesses, but you’re only gonna need one)
None of us harbored any vain fantasies regarding her.
She had become everyone’s…
To respect and keep safe & sound & sheltered…
From an always respectful distance.
On my very last morning at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, before I was to muster out and ship off to San Diego/Coronado for BUD/s – SEAL training, I found myself in the Chow Hall for one last ‘delicious’ Navy Breakfast.
If memory serves it was about 0630 hrs.
I went through the cow, er.. Chow- Line, grabbed a cuppa Joe, or Fred, or Jane—don’t matter—it all tasted the same.
Walking about, looking for a table, I spied MS Marine, seated all alone, laconically, rather absent mindedly, stirring her scrambled, powdered eggs (a Navy delicacy).
I Thought, ‘What the hell?’
Walked over to her table and asked, “May I join you?”
She looked up and said, “Yes. Yes, of course.”
Now, please allow me to explain something.
At this point in my life, I had already been around the world.
I had seen, loved, and un-loved more women than it may be prudent for me to admit.
But this one, this Lady Marine—actually not much more than a girl—full of hope and promise, was not terribly beautiful, but she had that ‘certain charme’ –en Francais.
Kinda semi-short blonde locks, ‘bout five foot nothin’, wonderful blue eyes, and she smiled at me.
She smiled at me!
I took a seat across from her, set my tray down, extended my hand and said,
“My name’s Lance.”
She took my hand, smiled again and said, “My name’s Mandy.”
(Of course it is, I thought—fits my ‘Mandy’ Profile—see my ‘Mandy Post’ for read –more-about-it-info)
“Nice to meet Y’all Mandy”
Yeah, I like to dazzle ‘em with my Texan-ness—My only claim to fame.
I continued, “Mandy, pardon me for being so bold, but I am compelled to ask you something, if I may.”
She picked up her coffee and said, “Sure. Go ahead.”
“First of all, you do realize you are unique here, yes?”
“Not sure I get your meaning,” she replied. “I am not the only female stationed here.”
“This is true Mandy, but you are the only Female Marine stationed here.”
“You said you had a question?”
“Uh, yes…” (I could tell ‘The Corps’ had already installed into her a very good, state-of-the-art, ‘Bullshit Detector’—and little patience for doe-eyed Sailors)
“Uh…yeah. I… just, it seems… uh, it seems you are a bit ‘down’. Why?”
She looked me dead in my eyes, and as any good, steely-eyed Marine would, with nothing to fear said,
“You said I was unique here. I concur. I am. I am ‘unique’ in the fact that none of the men ever talk to me here—for six months—I am a normal girl. Nothing wrong with me. I see the sailors talking to all the female Navy Corpsmen Students. Laughing, carrying on. Yet I am left alone. Why?”
This is when I realized that by worshiping this young girl from the distances, we had done her an unkindness, or worse.
I tried, poorly, to explain how all that had happened.
She glared at me, briefly. Then I caught a trace of tears in her eyes.
She picked up her coffee once again, took a sip, set it down, abruptly stood up, grabbed her tray and said,
“Thank you for telling me Lance, but you should’ve told me months ago. Good luck with your Naval career. Oh, and by the way, I noticed you many times. You seemed to be a leader, with some maturity. I often wondered if you would ever come and speak to me. Guess you were never in a hurry to do so.”
I stared at her back as she was walking away.
And I was suddenly saddened.
We, all of us, had done this wonderful young woman a horrible disservice.
To this day, I still remember her lovely face and her brief smile at me.
And the way she carried herself so well.
And her piercing parting words as she disappeared forever,
Except from my memory.“
There must be a lesson somewhere to be learned here.
This could’ve been my fulfilled vain fantasy.
If I had just opened my eyes.
For a moment.
Doesn’t really fit my narrative.
But it could.
If we had hooked up.
Flash forward ten years:
She still young at heart and still a Marine.
Me, older, not still a Sailor. And boring to her.
Addendum, final thoughts,
Bonus ‘Added Value’:
First, I love MY Country.
Second, I was honored to Serve My Country
Third, Even though Marines & Sailors mix like oil and water, there is a mutual respect shared there.
Fourth, I never let any Marine I ever met forget that the USMC ‘works’ for the U.S. Navy.
(Got my ass kicked more than a few times for relating that paralyzed fact)
“Hey Jarhead! Fetch me a water!“
With true Marine efficiency, I got three, count ’em, three bottles of water immediately bounced off my dome ever’ time I said that.
(And from three different directions!)
But, I’d keep sayin’ that!