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 anymore. “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.

“Don’t Rain Rust on my Parade”*

“Petty Officer Marcom! Your fifty cals are rusty!”

I must admit; yes, they were. I tried so hard to keep ahead of the rust, but here I found myself between the second half of a six-month, round-the-whurl-WestPac deployment, and somewhere just off the coast of Somalia. Yes, rust was my enemy, and 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 subject to rust. Rust Relentless. Relentless She Be: That Sea.

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

The Navy had a solution though. They provided canvas covers to cover those guns and make them safe from the rust. Alas, those canvas covers had seen better days, probably back when Pearl Harbor was just an ordinary Naval Base.

While scrubbing the Indian Ocean rust off’n the fifty-cals one morning I hatched a plan. Knowing full well we were soon to pull into Mombasa, Kenya, I saved my money. Once in Mombasa, I would smuggle one of the moth infected, jig saw, ‘holy’ canvas shards off the ship. I would rent a taxi and find a leather shop in Mombasa and commission new covers for my fifty caliber machine guns.

And This is exactly what I did, and to the amazement and astonishment of my Senior Chief Petty Officer and my Department Head (almost a Navy Commander… he kinda looked like JFK, now that I think on it—I did not like him, but he respected me—not sure why…)

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.  And I was so desirous that they did NOT notice, but my Master Chief did notice, yet, never ever voicing his ‘inner thoughts’ in front of what he referred to as “Shit Birds” — ‘Officers’ — Never let on.

And I should have been cognizant of this, yet I was somewhat giddy after my .50 Cals had finally passed inspection, that I did not stop to think that anyone, not even Master Chief had seen through my ruse. I was drunk with my own cleverness and lying in my rack, 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! I was a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class! Freshly rocked out of SEAL Training and trying to regain what little was left of my  pride.)

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”.

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 in my rack just before Taps with my little blue ‘privacy’ curtain drawn, someone abruptly jerked back the curtain.

Yep.

Master Chief Anderson

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

Trying to try to my side and find an elbow to lean to, I half-coughed out, “Master Chief, I had them made while we were in Mombasa.”

“I see”, was all he said, as he yanked my curtain back shut.

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 I had been made to almost memorize while at Recruit Training Command, i.e. boot camp. I had broken the rules.

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 bootcamp…

“Enter!”

“Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcom Sir!”

“I know who you are Lance; sit down.”

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

Mouth agape I sad down, speechless

“Son, Master Chief Anderson tells me you went out on your own, commissioned 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 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 and handed me two-hundred and fifty bucks.

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

“Petty Officer Marcom! You’re dismissed!”

Jumping up, some tears welling in my eyes, “Yessir!” As I saluted him and abruptly left his quarters, knocking some books off a shelf as I tried to hustle out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may continue this story, (or not). My time in Kenya was rather interesting though.

(Those bits I remember anyhow)

 

Sea (Somewhat of a Stream of Almost Consciousness)

The scariest thing to me…

Was at sea.

In the Indian Ocean, late one night

(That “IO” That Ho!)

Late at Night.

And the ship was tight.

And the waves were big.

Real big.

IO, She was angry.

And I was scared.

(No! HE Was scared).

I was never scared!

I was drinking coffee… And in between, walking on the bulkheads—all you sailors out there—can relate, and compare…

Never scared, but aside from my ‘coffee mates,” I knew, did, had done… the same drill… Too many times. (Fuckin’ Black-Shoe Navy!)

And if any of y’all find any of my  ‘Sea Stories” unbelievable…The preamble to any good sea story is “This is a no-shitter…”

And then there was Melville…I’ve been around the world and  once saw two white whales fuck.. I did. And there were dolphins… standing by… giggling.

 I have been to Australia.

Twice

And it follows, I have been to sea before:

And here, (for you purists) is the original, stolen from “Hejira”:

My Thanks to

“I’m just a simple soldier Son.

“With one more Year to Go.””

Read This: is this me? (Or why not me? Who Else?)

Still Thursday, eh?

and yeah: I edit as I go…

****

Picking up from the last half-chapter…

Matt, Rogers, and I were in Viva Young. I had been smitten.

But the smite –her was elusive, so Matt and I retired to the pool tables. Me hoping to fleece him outta some beer money. He hoping for good conversation and Lance Good Wolf-Ticket talk.

We both got what we wanted, until…

Until Pain walked in.

Pain (his real name) was my roommate back when I was in BUD/s Class 140. Pain was a pain in the ass. He was a tow-head boy, weighing in at about 150. All attitude. Bad attitude. He reminded me of Peanut, without the good to outweigh the bad. I did not like his style.

One of My Girls, (yes they were ‘mine’—this was My Bar, wasn’t it?) brought me a beer and said,

“Hey! Dat guy just walk in, he Na-bee Seal.”

“Yes Honey. I know him.”

“He yor frien?”

“Nope. He is trouble, and thanks for the beer.”

Still holding my pool cue, I walked over to Pain.

“Hey Pain!” I said. “How’s it hangin’?”

“Hey Ya.  Uh… don’t I know you from somewhere? Oh yeah; Buds. Back in ’86.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Class one forty. You were my roommate for a spell, until you got kicked out for smacking my other roommate upside the head.”

“Yeah he was an idiot.”

“Don’t think so. He was my Friend.”

“What was yer name? Mark… something or other… Mark..um…?”

“Yeah, that’s right: Marcom.”

“You rocked out didn’t ya?”

“Yeah, I rocked out. Got hurt. Apparently you made it. In SEALs.”

“Yeah, I didn’t rock out.”

“Good for you.”

“Wanna beer?”

“No Pain, I do not. What I want is for you to take your ass outta here. You see, this bar is for ‘Black Shoe Sailors’—Fleet Sailors. This is MY bar, and we don’t really want all you prima-donnas hangin’ out here. This is a private bar—my bar—So… mosey on on.”

“I go where I please. Fuck you!”

“Excuse me, but this ain’t your kind of place. This place is not big enuff to house your Navy SEAL ego; I suggest you amble on down to The California Club on Magsaysay. They have high ceilings and lots of bar girls. You will be welcomed there.”

“You’re pissing me off.”

By this point, I had reversed my grip on the pool cue, and turned it into a baseball bat. Matt came up to my shoulder and whispered,

“Lance, don’t do it.”

I had forty pounds on Pain. I could take him without the pool stick.

Mama-San, ever astute, came up to me and said,

“Sailor Man, you may need to sit down.”

I said, “Mama-San, Not until this asshole leaves.”

She said, “Okay, but you gonna fix the furniture.”

Standing two heads high over him, I turned back to Pain, “You need to leave Son.”

“Maybe I will check out that California Club after all.” He said. And left.

The Jar Heads on the other side of the bar applauded. One said,

“Great job! Squiddy! That guy is an asshole. Seen him around town.”

“Thanks!” I said. Then yelled, “Hey! Mama-San! Bring me a beer! I just saw my life flash in front of me!” (Not really. I fear no man, but it makes for good prose, eh?)

Pain was actually a good guy. But an asshole. Certainly I can relate, being same.

Women (I Know) I KNOW

I write a lot about my relationships with women.

Why? I don’t know. Or… perhaps I do know. It grows tiresome for most. (especially former Girlfriends/wives) This I know. I also know I have to write what I remember and know, and what I feel/felt, and knew. I recently re-watched “Alien”, a movie that kinda, sorta defined what I ‘was’ in the Sinai Desert in 1979. Not sure how to explain that one… but, yet… Sigourney Weaver…

Anyhow, I write about women. I write about women, and my relationships with women, because I love women. Most of them don’t love me, but none of them (them ‘wimmens’) can ever say they were ever bored with me…

Point is: I love women. I write about my experiences with women because my experiences with all the women in my past have made… me… a feminist.

I love the way they look. (And yes! I love the way they ‘cook’–metaphor–I am the ‘best cook’) I love the way they dress. I love the way they un-dress. I love the way they talk. I love the way they walk. I love the way they incite. I love the way they excite. I love the way they dance. I love the way they romance. I love the way they taste. I love the way they smell. I love the way they mostly… don’t tell.

And most of all, I love the way they piss me off,

(And drive me crazy.)

Yes. I love women. 

The way they Made Me: Made me who I am.

And I like that.

I like this man, that woman created in me

This like I like instinctively 

But, what the hell?!

“That’s what comes from too much pills and liquor.”

Vid Credit: 

Felipe Ruiz de Chávez

And of course, Joel Gray (and of course  Bob Fosse.)

Token Males… To defend the race of men who think (better).

 

The Biker-Bartender-Bouncer Chick, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Part Two.

Part One Here: 

And if you are new here, ya might wanna start here: Shonnie.

So there I was in a foreign bed with a foreign woman who called herself “Layla”, smelling bacon and no way to escape, save for a walk-about or a taxi, which I suspected were too damn hard to find in IB (or wherever I was) at such an early hour.

“So,” I said. “Shall we head on to the breakfast nook?”

“Sure Cowboy,” she said.

“I really wish you’d stop calling me that.”

“What?”

“‘Cowboy.’ Cowboy, I ain’t. ‘Sailor’ is more to the point. And it suits me now.”

“OK, ‘Sailor.’ No worries.”

“Fine. And thank you.” (I was approaching ‘pissy’ at this moment, the booze having worn off. And hung-over kicking in.)

We went to the ‘breakfast table’ and I discovered that there were two children in the house.

“Who’s kids?” I asked. (I just had to)

“Mine!” said the breakfast launcher.

“Cute, they are,” I said stupidly.

“Yeah,” said Mother.

“Please pass me a bloody Mary,” I said back, not wanting to converse.

“There ya go, Sailor-Man,” she (momma) said.

(A kindred spirit?)

“Thanks, I have a bit of a headache”

“Of course,” she said, passing me the pitcher of Bloody Mary’s.

What am I in for? I remember asking me. (Maybe out – loud)

“We are going to the San Diego Zoo.” You wanna tag along?”

“Why not?” I rhetorically answered. “Why not? The kids coming? Of course they are….”

And off we went. (After breakfast)

And good, I thought: Y’all can park me at the petting zoo…

 More Later….

Vid Credit:

littlewhitewolf08