Muscle memory is an amazing phenomenon. However, they say that by the time a man reaches middle age, while he still has the memory, he no longer has the muscle. This can lead to embarrassing situations, usually involving ladders. For example, finding himself dangling from the edge of a gutter screaming like a girl. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all middle-aged men; for example, it doesn’t apply to me. (Hey, the gutter thing could have happened to anyone!) And I asked my brother-in-law, Steve, and he told me it doesn’t apply to him either.
I point this out because my niece, Elise, recently completed United States Marine Corp training at Parris Island, South Carolina. From what I can decipher, the training goes like this. They take a bunch of recruits and then spend 13 weeks trying to kill them. It culminates with a little excursion they call The Crucible (Ouch! Just the name hurts). After all of this, they take the recruits they didn’t manage to completely kill, and they make them Marines. And they get to yell “Oo-rah” a lot.
After considerable soul searching and deep consideration, I have decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corp. I want to yell “Oo-rah,” and of course, look down on the other less Marine-ish branches of the service. Only one thing: I am asking them to make a few adjustments. I’m sure they’re reasonable people and will meet me half way.
I haven’t been particularly active over last few years (well, thirty). And it is my understanding that boot camp requires pushups. Perhaps I could be allowed to do modified pushups. You know, the ones where you can leave your knees on the ground? (No, these are not called “girl pushups.” Stop being a sexist pig!)
I can’t think of anywhere I’d need better sleep than during boot camp. But I understand that everyone sleeps in the same room? The barracks? You see, that’s no good for me. I’m a light sleeper, and I think the snoring that unquestionably goes on would pose a problem. I don’t think it would benefit me or the Marines if I hit the obstacle course groggy. Also, it tends to make me grumpy in the morning. So I’d like to stay at a nearby hotel. I’d like to say upfront that I am happy to pay for this out of my own pocket. I’ll leave a standing order for a wakeup call each morning to make sure I’m back on time. And I’ll take care of my own breakfast. Hear the savings? This is a win-win.
The Marine’s boot camp ends with a final test, “The Crucible:” a 54 hour nightmare which includes traveling 48 miles by foot while carrying equipment and overcoming daunting physical challenges. Here’s my concern. I have back and knee issues. My doctor recommends that in lieu of jogging, I exercise using low impact ellipticals. So, I’m happy to complete “The Crucible,” but I’d like to do it at the gym. Heads up, this is an issue which we’ll need to keep an eye on during selection for mission deployment.
That’s it. That’s all I’m asking for. Yes, it may appear to my fellow recruits that I am “catching a break” or otherwise receiving some perceived “advantage.” And I understand how this might interfere with group cohesion, which is apparently a big thing with the Marines. So in exchange for my reasonable modifications, I am willing to agree that after graduation, while I may yell the Marine battle cry, I only get to yell the last syllable. So no “Oo,” just “rah.”
Are we good?