Quote of the Day: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
- Arthur Schopenhauer
Tonight I got a certain invitation from a certain General to attend a certain Christmas concert.
OK, I finagled an invitation from the Protocol Office but sue me. I wanted to take my family to the Depot Christmas tree lighting ceremony and concert.
I also thought I had a lock on sitting next to R. Lee Ermey but that was not quite meant to be I guess.
We arrived and came through the front door of the CG’s house where we were greeted by the Aide, who happens to be a friend of mine, the General, her sister, and the Sergeant Major of the Depot. I think I neutralized the “how the hell did Grose get an invite” thought when I shoved my wife and two kids in front of me. They are, you know, irresistible.
We wandered through the house to look at the Christmas decorations and made our way to the backyard where they had tents set up with food and drink. Carrie went for the wine, while I, of course, made my way to the sailboat full of beer. Yes, they have a small sailboat and they fill it with ice and as much Coors Light in a bottle as the eye can see. It was beautiful.
I grabbed a beer and turned to see what I was looking for: R. Lee Ermey standing by a heater and talking to someone.
I made my way over to him and when the opportunity arose, I came up to him and for the fifth time in my life, introduced myself to him.
“Gunny, we met when I was a Sergeant at the University of Washington, then as a Captain in Quantico when you brought Mail Call to us, then at the Marine Corps Marathon a couple of years ago, and finally, last year when you came to see the Wounded Warriors at Balboa. Now, I’m proud to say, I meet you as a Major.”
I then introduced him to my wife and kids and he was very gracious. I told him that my kids finally became old enough that I could show them “Full Metal Jacket” and he asked them if they had watched it. They said they had and he kind of smiled, telling them not to repeat some of the words.
He then went on to point out that it wasn’t as much of WHAT he said but HOW he said it. Explaining this, we got to hear some famous words come out of the very mouth that originated them.
“I want you two turds to clean the head. I want that head so clean and squared away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in there and take a dump.”
I reminded him of some stories we had shared long ago, such as when Brad Pitt showed up late to the set and he and Morgan Freeman took him inside a trailer and educated him on his craft. Seems Mr. Pitt straightened up and flew right after that. Imagine that.
I also told the kids how the actors in Full Metal Jacket would flub their lines even though they were scripted because the Gunny would get in their face and they would lose it.
“Yeah, and all they had to say was ‘YES SIR!’ and they would still screw it up” the Gunny chuckled.
I asked the Gunny if it would be OK if we got some pictures and he had no problem with that, although he looks a lot happier to be with the kids that with me.
He mentioned his daughter to me and I told him the last time I saw her was the cover of people magazine when he was bent over in the classic DI pose, looking down on a little girl. He told me she is 26 now!
I asked him if any of his kids were in the military and he looked a bit disgusted and said they weren’t and jokingly, he said that’s because he’s away so much acting and their mother has all the say in the matter.
There was one opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I have a friend named Tuffy who is a retired Air Force TI (Air Force “DI“) and he is a legend in that field. His ultimate symbol of the very lifestyle he dedicated decades to, training recruits, is, of course, Gunny Ermey. So when I saw the Gunny smoking behind the bleachers alone, I knew what I had to do.
I called Tuffy on my cell and then handed it to the Gunny, asking if he could wish Tuffy a Merry Christmas. The Gunny remembered Tuffy (he had crashed in his San Antonio apartment years ago)…
… and was glad to wish him happy holidays.
I do believe that might have made Tuffy’s year, if not decade.
I was looking forward to talking more with the Gunny during the concert and I had asked the Protocol office to seat me next to him.
Well, I guess that got changed at some point because we got 10 rows back and he was front row. Imagine that.
But it didn’t really matter. I was happy to be with my family as we cuddled under blankets and watched the tree lighting. Then the concert began and we enjoyed the holiday spirit while watching the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Band play a combination of old classics and new Christmas songs.
Then we went home and Carrie made me burritos. I’m so Christmasey.
Free Advice for Today: “Drink champagne for no reason at all.”
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.