Thursday, March 8, 2007

What is in a name

Names can be brought about and mean many different things, depending on what part of the world you are from. For example, for some of the Native Americans names were a reflection of an animal, or a certain characteristic that they were supposed to have. For some in the middle east, a name can tell people where your tribe is from, and what is your lineage. Some Hispanics can trace their lineage back through the years through their name as well. I had a friend of mine that had about 8 or nine names. While not quite as long as his, my name is long, and is actually 2 names, hyphenated.

In the military, for official documents, names are not usually hyphenated. That meant when the Drill Instructors would be conducting roll call, when they got to my name they would pause, mutter "what the fuck?", and then proceed to butcher my name. After a day or two, it got to where the Drill Instructor could only get to "What the..." and I would sound off with a loud, "Here Sir!" Another day of being named recruit 'What the..', and one of the Drill Instructors officially changed my name to Alphabet.

Drill Instructors did that often, whenever a recruit did something somewhat memorable, or there was some particular trait about the guy. In my time I have known many Marines that if pressed, I would not remember their name. I would remember on the other hand, that we called them names like Barf, Crazy, Elmo, Barney, and Bear.

Recruit 'Crazy' was an interesting fellow. I didn't really get a good read on this guy in boot for several reasons. The biggest one was that there were only so many seconds in a boot camp day that one had time to get to know people. He seemed like a nice enough guy, with an odd sense of humor. He would do stuff that just boggled the mind, just for 'shits and giggles'.

A basic layout of a squad-bay. Imagine a very large 'H" shape building, several stories tall. The 'center line' of the H would be the heads (bathrooms), the 'legs' would be the squad-bays. There would be stairs leading to the different floors where the legs would intersect the center line, and that is where you would enter your squad bay. The first portion of the squad-bay contained the quarter-deck and the duty hut. The duty hut was the Drill Instructors' office and had a rack for the duty DI to sleep in at night. The quarter-deck was where recruits went for some quick classes, and where they passed the time in 'additional incentive training'. The rest of the squad bay was where the racks were set up.

In order to pass from the squad-bay main area to the heads, one had to pass in front of the duty hut. The Drill Instructors always kept the door open, so in order that a recruit might not violate their privacy with their unworthy eyes, the recruit was to face away from the duty hut, and practice side-stepping (a close order drill movement) whenever he crossed in front of the door.
Crazy was heading to the showers one evening, and as he was side-stepping in front of the duty hut open door, the towel that was wrapped around his waist dropped to the floor. He shifted the wash-cloth, shampoo, and soap-box to one hand, bent over and retrieved his towel. As he was facing directly away from the duty hut, he also flashed his ass, in all its glory, to the Drill Instructors. That troubling view, intentional or not, got him a trip to the quarter-deck for some of that 'additional incentive training', when he was fully clothed, of course.

The above-mentioned training was perhaps the thing that got us into the best shape. It was a standard set of exercises that increased in repetitions just about every day. It got to the point where the Drill Instructors would tell us to stop counting, and just do the exercises until they told us to switch to the next one. I (now) fondly remember doing push-ups until my arms fell asleep up to the elbows, doing flutter-kicks to the point of dry-heaving, and doing leg excercises until one recruit's eyes rolled up and he went ass over teakettle to the deck.

Crazy spent so much time on the quarter-deck that he would volunteer to thrash. Sometimes the Drill Instructors would have a few moments, so he would pull out his 'shit list', and read off the names of the recruits that had incurred his wrath earlier. When the DI would get up to the quarter-deck, most times he would see crazy there, whether or not he had been called out.

The other thing that Crazy liked to do was to torment the recruits on the other side of the squad bay. For those that have seen 'Full Metal Jacket', do you remember the evening inspection scene? Boot Camp was pretty much exactly like that. All recruits in the platoon were lined up in their skivvy-drawers, at the position of attention. The Drill Instructor would walk the line, inspecting the recruits for any medical, physical, or other issues. When the Dril Instructor would get to you, you had to stare straight ahead, and sound off with the authorized responses to his questions. The problem for me was that I happened to be staring right at Crazy when speaking to the Drill Instructor.

One night Crazy got a weird look in his eye, and as the Drill Instructor was inspecting me, Crazy (behind the Drill Instructor's back) started blowing kisses at me, trying to get me to crack a grin at his stupid antics and get myself into trouble. When that didn't work, Crazy started running his hands silently over his body, tweaking his nipples, and doing a spastic dance. I think that the Drill Instructor might have suspected something was up, because he did turn a few times to look over his shoulder. Every time that he did glance around though, all he saw was Crazy and the rest of the platoon in the model, picture perfect position of attention, patiently awaiting their own inspection.

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