This true story appears in my book “SH*TBIRD! How I Learned to Love The Corps” and illustrates how our Drill Instructors kept us on our toes. The longest month of my life was my first three days of boot camp. It seemed virtually impossible to say anything to a DI that was correct in his eyes, unless, of course, you were agreeing with his assessment that you were possibly the dumbest, most worthless specimen that had ever crapped between a pair of boondockers. This was one of the first things we learned. In fact, sometimes there just wasn’t a “correct” answer.
We had found out within minutes of arriving at MCRD that just about any infraction, whether real or imagined, was punishable by death. Well, maybe not death itself, but you still thought you were in Hell. Actually one DI told us that it wasn’t legal for him to kill us but there was no statute keeping him from making us wish he would and just get it over with. So, when a DI asked a question a wrong answer would usually be accompanied by summary judgment and punishment.
Either the second or third day – with so little sleep you couldn’t tell when one ended or the next started – we were in formation waiting to do something or other. Not wanting to waste any time our DI kept us at attention while he meandered between the ranks raising hell with first one boot and then another.
He was in the process of chewing on a recruit in the rank in front of mine when a guy to my right, instead of holding “eyes front”, let his eyeballs shift to the action. Big mistake! The DI forgot about the guy he had been working over and charged through to confront the miscreant.
“What the f**k were you looking at, Sh*tbird?!!” He’s got his face shoved within an inch of the recruit’s face.
“Sir! Nothing, Sir!”
“Bullsh*t!! You were looking at me, weren’t you?”
Busted. “Sir! Yes, Sir!”
“Why were you staring at me, Sh*tbird? Because you like me? Is that it?”
The recruit is nervous now. “Sir! No, Sir!”
The DI straightens up, the anger replaced by a quizzical look, a little hurt in his voice. “What do you mean, you don’t like me? Why not? What’s not to like?” He lifts his arms up, palms up and turns a circle. “Is it the way I dress?”
Now only a fool is going to criticize that uniform. “Sir! No, Sir!”
“So you like the way I dress?”
“Sir! Yes Sir!”
“And there’s no other reason you don’t like me?” A little edge is back in his voice.
“Sir! No, Sir!”
The Sergeant smiles. “So, you do like me?”
“Sir! Yes, Sir!”
Now a snarl. “Well, likin’ leads to lovin’, a**hole. And lovin’ leads to f**kin’! Do you believe you’re going to f**k me, you worthless piece of sh*t?!!!
Thoroughly confused, the recruit croaks “Sir! No, Sir!”
The Sergeant is shocked again. “Why the hell not? What have I done? What happened to likin’ and lovin’? Do you think you’re too damned good for me?”
The boot’s head is spinning. “Sir! No, Sir!”
“So, you DO think you would f**k me?”
“Sir! No, Sir!”
A malevolent look comes over the Sergeant’s face. “Well, you got that right, sh*t- for-brains! If anybody around here is going to get f**ked over, it sure as hell ain’t going to be me. And the next time I see you eyeballin’ this…” and he sweeps with both hands down his body, “instead of having your eyes forward where they belong, I will f**k over you and there ain’t gonna be any romance in it! Are we clear?”
“Sir! Yes, Sir!”
Like I said, no correct answers.