Don’t RUST On My Parade*

“Petty Officer Marcom! Your Fifty Cals are Rusty!”

50 Cal NavyA

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Third Class Daniel J. Mark. Cleared for release by ALBG PAO, LCDR Jeff Bender.

Lance Sailor

Marco The Sailorman

I had to  admit. Yes they were. I had tried so hard to keep ahead of the rust, but here I found myself on the leeward side of the second half of a six-month, ‘round-the-whurl-West Pacific Deployment’, and somewhere just off the coast of Somalia.

Yes, rust was my enemy, certainly never my friend—the machine guns were always mounted while we (The USS Callaghan DDG 994, full cast and crew) were Haze-Gray and Underway.

Yes, always mounted and underway:

Haze-Graying, even then

And rusty

My Guns were always supposed to be… somewhere upon the sea… this is what they were purchased for…

And subject to rust. Rust Relentless. Relentless She Be: That Sea. That Salt of the Fucking Sea

Rust.

My Moby Dick-lessness! How could I not keep Rust off my guns?

Freud certainly would have had fun with me

(Sadly, now I know why)

************

My professional life was to be found somewhere rusting in those machine guns.

And that rust you see, that rust occupied a great deal of my daily routine.

The Navy had a solution though. She had provided canvas covers to cover those guns and make them safe from rust. Alas, those canvas covers had seen better days, probably back when Pearl Harbor was just an ordinary Naval Base that no one had ever heard of.

But rust is relentless and timeless.

While scrubbing the Indian Ocean rust off’n my fifty-cals one morning I hatched a plan. Knowing full well we were soon to pull into Mombasa Kenya, after so many month at sea, I conspired to save my money:

Once in Mombasa, I would smuggle one of the moth infected, salt- digested, jig saw’d, Swiss Cheese, ‘holy’ canvas shards off the ship. I would rent a taxi, find me a young child, show him my smuggled ‘prize’, ask him to direct me somewhere, where I could find and nickel and dime (I did not have much money then, not un-life-like now) find a leather shop in Mombasa, present to the leather-maker my Holy Canvas, My Shroud,  My Naval Career, and demand, (for US Dollars), that he make me four such more yet new and brand new.

And functional.

And This is exactly what I did, and to the amazement and astonishment of my Master Chief Petty Officer and my Department Head (almost a Navy Commander… he kind of looked like JFK, now that I think on it. I  did not like particularly like him, but I respected him. Hell, he reminded me of all the things I could have been if I had joined the Nav when I was twelve instead of twenty-eight (Different story. Sorry)

The next time they inspected my Fifty Cals, they were pristine! (They did not take notice nor time to notice that the canvas covers were not exactly Haze-Gray-Naval Gray. No, more like Third-World-Rustic, with just a tiny bit of water buffalo…left over…but Goddamn sure water and sea salt proof.   

And I was so desirous that they did NOT notice, but my Master Chief did notice, yet, never ever noticing nor voicing his ‘inner thoughts’ in front of what he referred to as “Shit Birds” — ‘Officers’ — Never let on.

Master Chief never, ever let out his truth thoughts in front of Shit – Birds. This was his genius. 

And I should have been cognizant of this, yet I was so somewhat giddy after my .50 Cals had finally passed inspection, that I did not stop to think on that anyone. “Not even Master Chief had seen through my ruse” Yeah, Rite!

 I was drunk with my own cleverness and lying back on my back in my rack, curtain drawn,  congratulating me.

(Now, you must realize how the Military Mind works. I was my Ship’s Armor All–Armorer– IN Charge of All The Ship’s Small Arms! .225 Cal to .50 Cal. If it took two men to lift, wasn’t mine. But one-man-band? Yep!  I was the shit!  I was a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class! Freshly rocked out of SEAL Training (twice now, but who counts these sorts of thing? I suppose I do) and trying to retain what little was left of my  pride and my so-fifty-caliber-called-life.)

And I loved and Respected My Master Chief. Did not ever want to become an embarrassment to him, nor to my Fellow Gunner’s Mates who worked on the “Big Guns”. (Those ones what ‘bullets’ took two and a half-men to lift)

And even more important, (anyone who has ever ‘Served’ will know this), the Military is Run On Fear:

“Oh God, Please Don’t Let Me Fuck UP!”

That kind of fear.

Well, as I was lying on my back in my middle rack right before Taps with my little blue ‘privacy’ curtain drawn back when someone jerked that sucker back.

Along with my reverie.

Yep.

Master Chief Anderson!

MY MASTER CHIEF

“Son, tell me where you found those brand new gun covers.”

Trying to lie on my side and find an elbow to lean to, I half-coughed out, feigning sleepy-eyed ignorance,

“Master Chief, I had them made while we were in Mombasa.”

(There are people one may lie to in life, but, A Master Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy is not one found amongst those people. Not if one wishes life beyond that moment of sweet deception)

“I see”, was all he said, as he yanked my curtain back shut, thus leaving me alone with my various and sundry.

I did not sleep that night. For you see, I knew I had broken Naval Regs by doing something not-in-the Naval-Seaman’s-Bible–The Blue Book–The book, inches thick as a brick,  “The Book” I had been made to almost memorize while at Recruit Training Command, i.e. boot camp.

41XgCzuhSdL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_

I had broken the rule.

In the Nav, there is a sea sailor preamble, most requisite when one wants to recount a story of ‘when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron’… “When Moses was a pup” This validates and is a ritual never broken. In other words, one never breaks the rule.

Sometime mid-morning the next day, I was summoned to the berth/office of  The Department Head of my Division, Lt. Commander ‘Kennedy’.

Shitting bricks is too trite.

I was nervous.

I gave a hearty rap on the bulkhead door as I was trained to do in boot camp…

“Enter!”

“Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcom Sir!”

“I know who you are Lance; sit down.”

(What??? Lance??? Sit Down???)

Mouth agape I sat down, speechless

“Son, Master Chief Anderson tells me you went out on your own, designed, commissioned, smuggled off a prototype, and paid for, with your own money, those .50 Cal Gun Covers. Is this true?”

“Yes, uh, yessir,” I stammered.

“Well, that shows some fine initiative. How much did you pay Son?”

“Un Sir. Doesn’t matter…. I just, well, the .50 Cals, you know SIR,  cost ten-thousand dollars each, and I thought…rust….an…”

“How much did you pay?!”

“250 Dollars Sir.”

Without saying a word he opened a little three-lock-box (OK; I made that up. It was only a one-lock-box) that he had in a drawer, carefully opened it, and proceeded to hand me two-hundred and fifty bucks.

American

I sat there, dumb founded,  a moment too long, still in shock, looking at the bills in my hand…

“Petty Officer Marcom! “

“Huh…Uh, Huh… Sir?”

“You’re dismissed!”

Jumping up, knocking my chair over,  some tears welling in my eyes,

“Yessir!”

As I saluted him and abruptly left his quarters, quite in haste.

And thus I had survived yet another day in MY  Beloved Navy.

And Just As a Reminder Kids:

Don’t Rain on my Parade: I have enuff Rain for All

 

*And this just once more a rough draft, full of error, so be kind. Trust me: there is no harsher critic of me than me. I sweat commas. 

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

An Oldie: “A Queendom! A Queendom! My Horse For A Queendom!”

This is an ancient post, one that most probably have not seen.

I am a mite lazy today and trying to find some inspiration somewhere to post something new…but for now: Please Stay Tuned.

***

When I was a young teen, freshly discovering the Joys of Puberty, I had an Ant Farm.

(Early Puberty does strange things to Not quite still Boys, but not quite Yet Men.)

Not one of those green and clear plastic toy ant farms. Oh, Hell No. This was hand-crafted and from fine pine two-by-fours. Two panes of 3/8” plate glass measuring thirty by twenty-four inches seated in the painstakingly mitered channels of the wood sandwiched the heavy Plaster of Paris block inside, in which I had meticulously carved all the ant-sized tunnels and oval shaped ‘ante-rooms’ for the ants to place the larvae and store the rations for a winter that would never come.

For these were domesticated ants—house ants, if you will—I had willed them such. These tunnels and carved out spaces were painstakingly coated with clean sand using a strong, but non-toxic well-cured epoxy.

It seems I had always been fascinated by ‘every creeping thing… and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds…’ And ants were always at the top of my ‘Creepeth Hit Parade.’ Once I had my initial stock, I spent many a happy hour studying their daily perambulations. I loved them dearly.

“Yes Elizabeth, ‘tis a strange one, this boy…”

The problem was my ants were too much mortal, and always died off too soon. Woefully I would watch as the living carried the fallen up to the surface and piled them in one corner of the farm, taking the time to respectfully, it seemed to me,  place them just so, re-stacking the funeral pyre if through my neglect I did not remove the excess bodies in a timely fashion, causing an ant-sized dry deluge of the departed.

After some research, I discovered that the worker ants died after a shorter predetermined length of time than I had previously believed.  I had managed during my ant-excavations to capture nubile winged Princesses and the large-headed and virile winged Princes. Problem was, they could not fly high enough in my little ant utopia to consummate their nuptials.

What to do?

queen ant

Discover and enslave a Queen. And of course I knew all along it must sooner or later come to this. I had hoped for later, but alas. I could not in good conscience, keep restocking my sterile ego of a closed system with workers who in reality had no firm purpose and no real meaningful existence, other than to daily heed the call to “Bring out yer dead! Bring out yer dead!” I was forcing them to live a Sisyphean Sorrow, and I did harbor remorse for that.

ant farm

I spent the better part of two summers searching for a queen for my ant farm. (Surely there must be some manner of metaphor or even allegory to be found therein.)

I would scout out the biggest, meanest ant mounds and methodically excavate them with a hoe, carving, peeling, madman like, layer by layer, like an onion so as to not overlook Her Majesty: Desperately hoping to find My Queen. I got stung, bitten, ravished, and generally harried and harassed by the noble and fearless workers. (Which are all female, by the way; Now run tell that!) I scraped down…down…down…  All in a vain searching attempt to find the queen who would make my farm whole and self-sustaining.

I never found her. She was too deep, too elusive, too protected, too well hidden from me. Perhaps she did not really exist at all?  And never did. Who knows? I have never in all my anting days, seen Ant Matriarchal Royalty. Perhaps the eggs are exuded from some ant fungus in the summer-warmed earth? Perhaps from some mutually beneficial agreement signed eons ago, betwixt Bacteria and ‘Antdom’ provided the means for both species to survive?

And thrive.

These are the ponderous questions that eventually came to plague my dreams like so many Harpies. And so I gave up Mythical Queens shortly thereafter and put my mind and my bodily efforts toward the pursuit of the real-life warm, touchable, see-able, lovable flesh and Heart-Felt fulfillment to be had from the interactions with Cheerleaders and Majorettes.

The ants had expedited my metamorphosis from a some-time boy into a full-time young man.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

–Corinthians 13

And p.s. gentile (pun) reader: Please do not mistake my quoting of King James Version, as testament of Christianity, ‘fore I can quote Edith Hamilton just as easily.

Thanks to all who read.

I bought a box of tampons today.

Specifically, Tampax Pearl… “in the Green Box.” That’s what she required. That was my quest, my only quest: to find those and only those specific tampons. (In that green box? Are you fucking kidding me? Lots of tampons in green boxes… I discovered. Never mind…)

Pearl

Mission Accomplished. No apparent casualties.

Now Men, I know what some of you are thinking… I will go even further: the box of The Pearl Tampons (in the green box—there must be some metaphor there.) was the only item in my shopping cart, naked they were, all alone. In a big ol’ shoppin’cart, just sittin’ there.

Did I try to cover ‘em up with some dead red animal flesh, some pound or four of ground beef, some Biker Mags? Did I try to repeat the scene from “Summer of Forty Two” with the kid tryin’ to buy condoms? Askin’ for sprinkles and…”Oh, by the way, gimme some rubbers while you’re at it?” -been there, did that one. No mas.

Naw.

Here is the reason: I am secure in my masculinity. I can purchase tampons for my woman. No sweat.

I also listen to Joni Mitchell and Janis Ian and I cry at movies (some movies anyway–RoboCop comes immediately to mind).

Point is, Guys Git Over It!

Go out and buy some tampons. The experience will set you free.

Don’t Rain Shit On My Parade

Three A.M. and I was in the middle of a dream about ‘Shit River’ in Ologapo City, Philippines. (Freud would’ve loved me)

Then I woke up.

Woke up to a very un-dreamy-like smell of real shit. Real potent shit. Horrible smelling shit. Knock a buzzard off a shit wagon smelling shit.

I was living in an old two-story house in Commerce. Just outside my bedroom was the walk-in closet where I kept all the clothes I owned. I have never owned much in the way of clothes, by the way.

I heard something dripping like rain behind the door, but it wasn’t raining outside. I opened the door and sure as shit, shit was raining down from the ceiling.  All over my clothes. Spattering on the floor. My Chow Mix doggie, Tizzy, was obviously responsible. I went around the corner, and there  he was  in that dog-taking-a-shit posture at the top of the stairway: Obviously with a really bad case of the doggie drizzling shits.

Took me until seven a.m. to clean up the shit and wash all my clothes.

I called in sick to work telling my boss, “I feel like shit.”

“A Queendom! A Queendom! My Horse For A Queendom!

When I was a young teen, freshly discovering the Joys of Puberty, I had an Ant Farm.

(Early Puberty does strange things to Not quite still Boys, but not quite Yet Men.)

silly ant

Not one of those green and clear plastic toy ant farms. Oh, Hell No. This was hand-crafted and from fine pine two-by-fours. Two panes of 3/8” plate glass measuring thirty by twenty-four inches seated in the painstakingly mitered channels of the wood sandwiched the heavy Plaster of Paris block inside. In which I had meticulously carved all the ant-sized tunnels and oval shaped ‘ante-rooms’ for the ants to place the larvae and store the rations for a winter that would never come. For these were domesticated ants—house ants, if you will—I had willed them such. These tunnels and carved out spaces were painstakingly coated with clean sand using a strong, but non-toxic well-cured epoxy.

It seems I had always been fascinated by ‘every creeping thing… and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds…’ And ants were always at the top of my ‘Creepeth Hit Parade.’ Once I had my initial stock, I spent many a happy hour studying their daily perambulations. I loved them dearly.

“Yes Elizabeth, ‘tis a strange one, this boy…”

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