I have just been challenged by Hype Orlando to write about what no one tells you..
To be honest at first I had a complete brain fart as to what to write about. My first instinct was going to tell others about cycling, but nothing came to mind. Instead I’ll share from my past. I spent 8 years in the Marines and I have many many stories to share that I never do.
When the average person talks to me about deployments they have these preconceived notions about what it must have been like. I blame this on the media or movies that is fed to the general public. They want to hear about gun fights or explosions. About all the dangerous situations that Marines go through during war. This is not one of those stories.
The first thing I usually describe to people about Japan was that I turned 21 years old in Okinawa. I remember the first part of the night, but the rest of it was retold by my friends and pieced together later. . The night started early, as soon as we felt it appropriate we left the base and headed out into a little town called Kinville. Or as many have dubbed it, “Sinville.” This place had everything to get a young Marine into some trouble if they so decided to indulge. If you didn’t like the bar you were in you could walk another 10-15 feet and be in another one.
Kinville knew how Marines behaved and how to exploit them a big chunk of their paychecks. The mixed drinks like jack and coke were cheap $2.00 a glass, but the beer that we were used to drinking in the states came at around $4.00 a bottle. Didn’t take long before we all switched to the cheaper option when we went out. A handful of the bars also included girls for um company? Usually sent in from the Philippines to dance around on stage and flirt with service members to drain their wallets. Ask anyone who’s been there about the taco rice and cheese dish. A great late night snack in between drinking. Actually looking back I’m not sure if the food was fantastic or if we were just drunk off our asses and didn’t care.
Anyway back to my 21st birthday. We started out taking shots and washing them down with either jack and cokes or rum. It felt great to be able to drink and not have to worry about getting caught for underage consumption. We went from bar to bar announcing to everyone that I was now legal to get hammered. Drinks started coming from all directions. Almost like a challenge to see how plastered I could become. The night became blurry as we entered an establishment known as “East Coast.” This was usually the bar most of us went to towards the end of the evening to meet up with other Marines.
I could barely stand at this point. I went up to people I’ve never met and forced my way into their conversations. I have no idea about the topics, but it was fun. Now at this bar they had a potent mix called the “Rainbow shot.” Supposedly so strong and dangerous that it had to be taken at the bar. Trying to walk around would get you into trouble and probably thrown out. They lit the shot on fire for me and said to blow it out and drink it. I can’t recall taking the shot, but I do remember blowing out the flame. Then I time traveled and woke up the next morning in my bed.
What I don’t remember. . .I did in fact take the shot. My friends cheered me on while I made a horrible face. I turned away from the bar and went back to the table of random strangers I was talking to previously in the night. Picked up someones beer from the table and chugged it. Bad move apparently because I was stumbled the best I could to the bathrooms and began to throw up. Not sure why this bar had a shower stall in the bathroom, either way that is where I decided to project all of my stomach contents. I left the bathroom and noticed the bar was still pretty packed. I couldn’t find anyone that I recognize so I headed for the stairs. That’s right this evil bar was on the second floor so getting back to the street was a challenge. Gracefully I rolled down the stairs and back onto the sidewalk.
I met up with a couple friends and stumbled into a wall explaining what just happened at the bar. They weren’t too interested in hearing the rest of the story. Instead they wanted that last bite to eat before heading back to base. They walked behind me as we neared the front gate of base. I kept rambling about not wanting to get in trouble with the gate guards. I could barely stand, falling off the sidewalk and playing pinball with the sides of buildings. The challenge finally presented itself. I was staring across the road at the main gate to base. I let my friends know not to go across with me so they wouldn’t get in trouble with me.
By some miracle I began with one foot in front of the other across the road appearing to be completely sober and level headed. Not sure how it happened to this day. To everyone around me including the guards, nothing seemed to be wrong with me. I could have passed a field sobriety test with flying colors. I held out my military ID and waited for them to wave me through to the other side. I did it!
Once I reached the other side of the gate and was out of view of the guards I fell into a bush. Friends of mine said it took me a couple minutes to regain my motor skills enough to walk the last quarter mile to the barracks. We lived on the fourth floor of the barracks and instead of taking the elevator my brain at the time picked the stairs. If I could find the picture taken of me that night I would share it, but its been years since I’ve seen it. I almost made it! I lay there in the hallway passed out on the floor with my hand on my room keys. My room keys were inside the lock, my body lay stretched out. Thankfully someone was nice enough to see me and finished opening the door for me so I could get into my room.
I woke up the next morning afraid to move. After the black out night I thought I would have this incredible hangover. This was not the case. I must have downed enough alcohol to skip right past the hangover stage. In the fridge was some leftover taco rice and cheese that I ate all of. I never threw up that morning and was free from any headaches. Instead i was treated to the stories of last night. My friends are a bunch of asses.