13. Magnets

Magnets

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.”

Genesis 1:27-28a

On July 30, 2007, I finally left the wilderness and entered the promised land. Many unworthy residents erected fortifications there that now needed to be ripped out. There was no better way to eradicate the wicked nations in my heart than to have Marine Corps drill instructors pummel them into the ground.

The first scene of boot camp started in the Seattle Tacoma International Airport. A group of young men, myself included, were given orders to fly to southern California, and check into Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego. Once our plane landed, a flight attendant gave a shout-out to our group over the intercom.

“These young men are going to Marine Corps boot camp here in San Diego. Let’s thank them for their service!” All the passengers applauded for us, a sort of inaugural cheer before my enlistment even started. Now that I think of it, this would be the first of many rounds of thanks I would receive for my service. Though they can be a bit much, and admittedly are annoying when bombarded with accolades beyond what I deserve, it is still much better than – and preferred over – the spit and curses the men from the Vietnam War received.

We made our way past the security checkpoint where a young Marine in his Charlies1 greeted us. He led us down the terminal past the baggage claim. None of us checked any luggage because everything would be provided for us. All we brought besides our bodies would soon be stripped away and replaced with boots and cammies. Even the very hairs on our head would soon be hastily and begrudgingly raked off. Everything, even our identity, would be stripped, broken, reshaped, rebuilt and replaced into that of a Marine’s.

The Marine led us to a crowded room full of perspectives; civilians all bundled up, about to be sheared like sheep. Although I had no idea what would soon befall my peers and me, I wondered what could happen next. I don’t remember much about the events that transpired. Perhaps I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance. What I do know is that I stared at all the jubilant faces, thinking, We won’t be happy and smiling for long.

Whatever else I did with my last few moments as a civilian didn’t alter the fact that we were soon herded onto a bus by two irate drill instructors, who to my knowledge, materialized from another dimension.

We thronged onto the bus, cramming three or more to a seat with some sitting in the aisle. The intimidating figures commanded that we keep our heads down. After a short time, we arrived at the famous yellow footprints.

As we stood on the footprints, four more drill instructors greeted us with loud voices and threats. One wore a patch over his left eye and a stern glare in his right. Our introduction on the footprints could be summed up in one statement: “We own you.” Bolted above the double doors to the building were several articles of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). They took special pleasure in informing us that from this point forward, we were now government property. Nothing but time or death could free us from our commitment. Were we to flee, our life would be over. Only pleading insanity or attempting suicide could revoke the decision we made. My heart sank.

We entered a room where more angry men awaited us. These seemed louder than the rest. We all stood in front of long tables with dividers between each of us and emptied everything in our pockets. All that we owned went in a box. I stood there in silence, ears ringing with commands and feeling a tingling sensation down my spine and legs I’d never felt before. It took me a while to realize the tickle running down my body was caused by drops of sweat retreating towards the floor. Those lucky beads could escape, but I couldn’t.

An hour or two later, we entered the receiving platoon. We resided in this temporary holding place until the day when we they introduced us to our platoon and drill instructors. A smaller but no less intimidating staff sergeant greeted us. He had a darker complexion, appearing to be of Mexican descent. His freshly and flawlessly shaven head caught my eye. He groomed himself so perfectly that not only did his darker-skinned bald head reflect light in our eyes, but his shorn scalp and cheeks showed no evidence of hair follicles or roots.

Upon our arrival, he called us into a school circle around him. He sat in a chair and we sat cross-legged, upright, wide eyed with ears open, eagerly awaiting to hear and digest every morsel of anything that might come out of his mouth. Would it be profound wisdom, a frightful tale of agonizing recruits, or motivating war story?

A sincere smile emerged on his face that eventually became more twisted. Staff Sergeant Cruz opened his mouth.

“Gents,” his low, rugged voice boomed. We leaned in closer with our ears wide open. “Life is all about pussy.” Wrinkles formed above the bridge of my nose as my once elevated eyebrows tilted. I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly, but he said it again. “Life is all about pussy.” His smile widened. “Y’all have heard about Adam and Eve right? Well, what’s the point of the story? God wanted them to fuck. And that, is the meaning of life. I mean, just think about it, if nobody ever got pussy again, we’d all die, right? We need pussy to survive. Now I know none of y’all will be getting any pussy for a long time, y’all look like a bunch of convicts and drug addicts, I unnastan’ that. But, one day, if you make it, you’ll wear the uniform. And if there’s one way to get pussy, that’s the way to do it. Y’all will be fuckin’ pussy magnets.”
  1. The Dress Charlies uniform consists of a short-sleeve tan shirt, olive pants and black shoes with ribbons above the left breast pocket

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