My realtor really screwed me.
The year was 2009 and I was stationed in Bahrain. I needed an apartment to live in and bad. One dusty afternoon found me and her tromping around Manama looking at one great place after another. The challenge? They were all out of my price range. She thought she could bargain her way down in price. No dice. The market was tight and they were all too thick for my wallet.
Late in the afternoon, we pulled up to a long, slender apartment at the edge of Juffair. It was perfect: in my price range, clean, fairly close to base. The one issue: the Grand Mosque was a left-fielder’s throw to the bedroom window. A one-hopper.
“Is it noisy living so close to the Grand Mosque?” I asked my realtor.
She laughed. “Oh no, sir. No noisy. The windows are quiet-proof.”
I was not sure what the term quiet-proof meant, but I rented the place and moved in soon after. The first night, at oh dark early, I was awakened by the muzzein’s call to prayer. I laid in bed like a city boy trying to shake a dawn rooster.
I was a flyer, so thankfully I deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar soon after. And I traveled back and forth between Bahrain and Al Udeid every several months. I had learned, by this time, to make a practice of going to bed early, to rise with the early birds. The wee hours of the morning also meant that every Achmed in the phone book was not clogging my apartment’s wireless. As far as the phone book goes, you ever seen that thing? Half of it was Achmeds or Mohammeds. Or both. Achmed Mohammed or Mohammed Achmed. I still got my copy if you don’t believe me. . .
So, in May of 2010, at oh dark early, I was riding around the blogosphere and I encountered this guy. America’s First Sergeant. A Marine Corps E-8. He had this to say about one LT:
Take for example the sad tale of Lieutenant Navel Lint. This Navy O-3 was a fireball of scholarly and gentlemanly pursuits with a job to do. Unfortunately Lt Navel Lint failed to follow proper procedure. . .
. . .He’s a Navy O-3! He shouldn’t be treated like a recruit! Having skipped proper procedure, tact, or any common sense, Lt Navel Lint continued to go with blustering and bullying Lance Corporals in an attempt to have his way. . .
But that was not the worst of it. America’s First Sergeant mouthed off about Navy LTs in general:
Navy O-3s do not apologize for their behavior after all, no matter how despicable.
It was 0400 in the morning and I was steamed. Some jarhead was rattling his mouth about Navy O-3s. I shrugged it off, left his site, and continued my bloggy travels.
Later in the week, around lunch time, I needed some postcards. Off to the NEX I went. I found what I wanted quickly and swung by the DVD section to see whether anything new had come in. I had the whole store practically memorized.
I traipsed down one row and the next and stumbled across a Marine staring intently at a DVD. The title surprised me: Gilmore Girls, Season Two. If he had been looking to kick back to Season One, sure I coulda forgiven him, but Season Two? He was that elusive, slippery type: a male Gilmore lifer. Still, Marines were a mysterious bunch and I didn’t give it a second thought.
He turned and I happened to see his rank. E-8. 3 up, 3 down, with a lil’ diamond ring. E-8, same rank as that America’s First Sergeant guy. Wait. Just wait. Was it possible? I looked again and about dropped my teeth. I don’t wear dentures so my chompers stayed in, but indeed, America’s First Sergeant was standing in my kill zone. I was five feet away from unloading on him about his rant on Navy LTs.
But I didn’t. See, I was not entirely sure it was him. I bought my postcards and made a hasty retreat. Later in the day, I passed a desk of young Marines out near the gym: corporals, privates, and all in between.
“Hey Lance Corporal, does your First Sergeant have a blog?” I asked one of them.
“Yes, sir. He’s America’s First Sergeant,” he trumpeted proudly. “Wanna buy some stuff for our fundraiser?”
Groaning, I scanned their table. FAST Marine T-shirts and USMC coins. What was I going to do with Marine swag? Still, it was a fundraiser and I surrendered. Those misfits sold me a shirt and a coin for nearly twenty bucks.
Flash forward more than a year. I have never worn that shirt. It is locked away somewhere. So is the coin.
My challenge to America’s First Sergeant
You say: Navy O-3s do not apologize for their behavior after all, no matter how despicable. I say: On behalf of Navy O-3s, I apologize.
But you have to come here to accept my apology like a man. And in doing so, I will give away my FAST T-shirt to a future leatherneck. Any young high schooler or aspiring future Marine, I need for you to comment below. Parents, friends, acquaintances, milkmen, you can comment on behalf of your future steely-eyed killers. I will send, postage included, the T-shirt your way.
Of course, America’s First Sergeant has got to come around first. Perhaps he will also explain the Gilmore Girls thing. A nervous blogosphere awaits. . .
Update: the e-Gauntlet has been caught! Update II: Thank you Bookworm Room, Theo,
Milpundit, Kitchen Dispatch, Way Up North, and Susan Katz Keating for the links. Update III: We have a winner for the shirt! Standby for pictures. . . A big thank you to America’s First Sergeant. . .Not only a gruesome killer, but a good sport. Update IV: Get yer own FAST t-shirt here!