Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Curse of those Two Green Doo Wah Diddy Ribbons IV

Boy! Was it ever true: hubris can indeed be contagious!

After all, withour puny intellects harnessed to those of our Platoon Ten Twenty-five Bright Boys , hey! Why not? We might all go on to nail down the Camp Pendleton Edson Range Rifle Range record. And at the same time we did that, we could also walk away with one of the most coveted pennants at MCRD San Diego for our platoon guidon. The C.M.C. Marksmanship Pennant, I believe it was called, a beautiful maroon and gold ribbon, if I remember correctly.

And none too soon. Because, you see, that bad 'ole Green Eyed Monster of jealousy was beginning to infect not only the other three platoons but also their respective DIs. And I don't mean maybe. In fact our own platoon's quota of Bright Boys told us so, which made it all true.

You can just bet on it!

As our very own Bright Boys told us, there was beginning the most awful mumble-mumble throughout the Wisk-scented concrete laundry wash racks, the tin-roofed quonset hut barracks, and the latrines, everywhere in fact, that represented "home" for all three hundred of us.

More, the substance of that mumble-mumble, unodubtedly provoked by the Green Eyed Monster, himself, was little sort of spiteful.

Mincing no words, our ever-truthful Bright Boys gave us the story whose substance generally ran along these lines, to whit, that: "Outside them two green doo-wah-diddy streamers, all you all Bright (as well as allegedly) Mother-fixated Boys in Ten Twenty-five ain't likely to make out worth a fly'in you-know-what for the rest of basic training."

And that was that.

Upon hearing these reports, and being understandably incensed at being on the receiving end of such malicious banter, all of us in Platoon Ten Twenty-five closed ranks against our common enemy.

And our answer was plain, manly and very much and to the point.

"Well, then, f... all you all jealous (as well as allegedly) mother-fixated sons of promiscuous -- as well as presumbably female -- canines. 'Cause our Bright Boys are fixing to run circles around yours, and where it's really going to hurt. Just you wait and see."

Most likely all this juvenilia would have stopped right there, but of all people, our Senior D.I., Staff Sergeant José Padilla, got wind of it. Originally from the old San Juan District of El Paso, Texas, he would have been deaf, dumb and slow if he hadn't known what was going on. And SSgt. José Padilla was none of those things. A veteran of the Korean War, he was an excellent walking, talking example of the adage that "the NCO is the backbone of the Corps."

End Part IV

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Curse of those Two Green Doo Wah Diddy Ribbons III

And so far as the M-14 rifles went, the Bright Boys made no bones about their opinions. And their opinions ran along these lines, that there really wasn't a real proletarian motive for what they called with their burning Socialist Realism "all that G.I. Joe marksmanship s...t."

Instead the Bright Boys went on to put their opinions across with a no-compromise, take-no-prisoners simplicity. In a nutshell, this is what they said:

"That there is literally no (allegedly!) mother-fixated clown on the face of this earth, but who has what it takes to at least close both eyes at once and yank on a rifle trigger."


Those bright young college men had a way with words!

The atmosphere in our quonset huts would fairly crackle. "Just you wait and see," was the heady consensus of some of their acolytes and admiring wannabes. "'Cause when push comes to shove, our Platoon Ten Twenty Five Bright Boys are gonna' show all the rest that we can shoot just as good as we talk. The f....k! Maybe even better!"

First, however, there were the collective academic challenges to be faced in the ferosciously competitive X-1 - or something that sounded like that - and the follow-up X-2, those famous Marine Corps-mandated Basic Pre-remedial E.S.L. Exams, a big percentage of whose said intellectual challenges came in a long series of pictures in groups of four. Each group of four pictures would be on one line.

For example: four pictures in the order of hammer, nail, banana, saw. Our collective and individual academic challenge? To stare damn hard until we more or less "broke the code" and followed the hint of the suave Duty Academic Instructor "to look for what's not there," in terms of the one thing of no immediate use in building a house.

As we've mentioned earlier, the Bright Boys, the College-trained Men, reputedly ran the all-American intellectual gamut from "Ugh, me know you!" -- aka the psychology and sociology majors, to the "Just put me in Phys Ed" types -- aka the jocks.

Many of them, truth to tell, would undoubtedly have still harbored a justifiable resentment towards the jealous old men -- and maybe even some jealous old women -- faculty members who'd continuosly nagged them over their previously lack lustre grades in such useless, non-socially relavent courses as Physics I and Pre-cal. But! Thanks to both the X-1 and the X-2, all such lingering resentment was going to be banished. As in forever!

And the Bright Boys from the Southwest Conference, the Big Ten, the Awesome Eleven, and the Truly Dy-no-mite Twelve, or from the whoever, found all that previously festering resentment suddenly replaced by the sweet sensation of hubris that comes from vanquishing not merely one, but actually two academic challenges. In a row!

They were not alone.

Because when this man's United States Marine Corps unleashed all of us in the four-platoon series on tose X-1 and X-2 Twin Academic Challenges, we of Platoon Ten Twenty Five -- led by our own revolutionary peoples' vanguard of Bright Boys -- ran those academic scores right up and off the charts. Even folks like me fom such lack lustre places as Rancho Campo del Gato and Donna High School kicked all kinds of ass, too!

Good people, it's like I'm still struggling to tell you all something, o.k.? OK!

Because in point of fact we smashed the previous academic records right and left.

Before you could say "Jack be doin'it in his pulpit," -- or however it goes -- there wasn't just one, but two green Academic Achievement streamers with gold letters, flapping away from Platoon Ten Twenty Five's guidon. Come to think of it, looking back around forty years, I'd admit they'd have been about the only ones we were ever likely to get.

Never-the-less the rest of the platoons had to settle for streamers on their guidons with the usual military orientation. Ribbons bearing such logos as Bayonet Training with Pugel Sticks. PT. Hand to Hand Combat. Doing the Hand Salute. Running the CMC's PRT. More or less all the "GI Joe shineola in general."

But not us.

Hubris was in!

A sullen, negative self-image was out!

The Bright Boys of Platoon Ten Twenty Five were on a roll, and were even now getting the rest of us all fired up.

Next thing you know, our share of the Bright Boys from the Southwest Conference, The Big Ten, the Awesome Eleven, and the Totally Dy-no-mite Twelve, as well from the whoever, had an idea that to them must have seemed simply colossal, much like that of the African carpenter in the Osa Johnson story.

In a jiffy they unbent enough to share their idea with us, the other seventy to eighty percent. Before long we, too, thought it was simply colossal. Proof, if any need be, that hubris is indeed contagious...