10 November, 2007


I gotta say, I do love my Marines.

Overheard in a local military medical clinic as I waited to be checked for a work-related injury:

Two young corporals were discussing a magazine article/quiz that purports to tell you how your lifestyle will affect your lifespan. One was horrified to discover that he'd shaved 32 years off his life. Conversation then turned to stupid things people do to mess up their lives.

Marine #1: [referring to old high school girlfriend who now has three children before the age of 20] She's really messed up, so I offered to be a daddy to the kids, 'cause they need one... treat them like my own. You know--instant family. Just add milk. I was totally serious, but she wouldn't do it.

I tried not to smile at the "milk" comment.

Marine #2: Girls think they're in love and they get so stupid.

Marine #1: Yeah, she's the kind if you say "I love you," she'll do anything. So sad... she's got her life all screwed up now... and the children, too.

Marine #2: I don't think I know what love is, dawg. Really, I don't.

Despite my best efforts to ignore them, my ears perked up. Two 21-year-old-male Marines talking about what love is? I turned away, dropping my head and pulling my coat collar up along my cheek to hide my bemused smile.

Marine #1 (with bitterness): I know what love is. It sucks.

Marine #2: No you don't, no you don't, no you don't.

Marine #1: Dawg, I was married!

Marine #2: You didn't love her; you just wanted to get out of the barracks.

Marine #1 (after squirming and stuttering a bit): Well, yeah... but in the end I loved her so much. Really! (After a pause): It was so messed up, so messed up. It was so bad by the end, Dawg... only once a day!

Marine #2 (deadpan): My heart bleeds for you... what a terrible situation to be in. I feel your pain, your heartbreak. It must've been hell. I don't know how you survived.

Marine #1: But Dawg, it started out at eight times a day!

At that point, I had to get up and leave the room for fear of completely losing what I had left of a facade of indifference to their conversation. I went outside and laughed and giggled, then carefully focused on creating an air of indifference before reentering the room. I bit the insides of my lips to keep the corners from turning up everytime I heard the echo of "eight times" in my mind, and desperately focused on the words in the magazine I held in front of my face, willing my cheeks not to flame.

More light banter continued, stuff that I would've laughed at had they been friends of mine, but propriety forced me to studiously ignore them. I had finally let down my guard when Marine #2 returned after a brief visit with the nurse.

Marine #1: That was quick. Turn your head and cough?

Marine #2: Nope. You?

Marine #1 (big, stocky white boy): Yup.

Marine #2 (slightly-built black guy): She obviously has a thing for cute little white boys like you. You got somethin' for those 50-year-old nurses?

At that point, I completely lost it. I tossed down the copy of Approach I had been desperately trying to read, turned to them and said, "I'm sorry. I have been trying so hard to ignore you two, but you're about the funniest thing I have ever heard." They blushed like embarrassed little boys and exchanged a concerned glance with each other until they realized I was amused and we all laughed together. One acknowledged they were frequently told they could go on the road as a stand-up comedy routine (Marine #1 as straight man).

We talked a bit about men and women and age for a few minutes. I told them they probably wouldn't find the kind of woman they'd want to love and marry until they got much closer to 30, which they found an absolutely horrifying thought. I told them smart women like older men because by the time they hit about 40 they know how to treat a woman. They didn't argue that idea, but Marine #1 exclaimed, that's so old! Besides, I'm gonna die when I'm like 50, so I don't have much time!"

Yeah, I laughed again. The talk then turned somehow to careers and income, oddly.

We eventually returned to our separate activities--the Marines talking about their plans for after enlistment, and me finally able to concentrate on my interesting magazine. But when they stood to go (I was still waiting to see the doctor), they took the time to say a very polite "Nice to meet you ma'am, enjoyed talking to you."

Going out the door, the banter continued as Marine #1 said to Marine #2 (who had been bemoaning his single state compared to his buddy, and whose voice had been surprisingly sweet and soft as he said goodbye), "What a sweet and gentle voice you have! All the ladies must love it."

I managed to stifle my snort of laughter until the door closed.

Well, that's my addition to the lists linked above. Don't know how many specific entries it adds to the list, but that day was just more reasons I love Marines.

And yes, I love them even more because corporals like that also do things like this.

Happy Birthday to an amazing collection of funny, profane, courageous, honorable, amazing, silly, smart, sweet, beloved men and women. My heart is yours, as always.