It was cold as hell this morning but luckily I have a great big peacoat. I was a little self-conscious about wearing it because its has no less than a bazillion dog hairs on it, but I’m the type of person who’d rather look like a hobo than freeze.
Aside from being so cozy this coat has sentimental value and I will always remember the day I got it, but first a bit of back story. After joining the military I was a part of the delayed enlistment program (DEP) at my recruiter’s office which was kind of like a support group for recruits waiting to go to boot camp. At the time it was pretty lame but in hindsight I’m glad I participated because I learned a lot of stuff about the navy before I went which meant I got bitched at much less than some of my compatriots.
Anyways, the DEP program was run by my recruiters and some of my fellow recruits were given positions of quasi-authority. At the time I bought in because I figured if I was going to join the navy I might as well be serious about it, but I also joined at the relative advanced age of 23 and was definitely the most world-weary and black hearted among my peers.
This put me in direct conflict with the two kids our recruiters chose as their reepresentatives. They were identical twins who had looked forward to joining the navy from the moment they slid out of their mother. They had been sea cadets (which is like a nautical version of the boy scouts) and were incredibly annoying to put it kindly. To put it as bluntly as possible I hated these kids.
Although one day one of them said something I thought was interesting. I’m not sure which one because I never bothered learning their names (aside from being quite hateable identical twins also weird me out something fierce), but he was talking about how he couldn’t wait to get his peacoat. I remember thinking to myself that would be a neat moment because its an iconic piece of clothing, and I’d probably feel like a real sailor when I got mine (of course I never gave him the satisfaction of knowing this because remember I hated him).
Well a few weeks later I shipped off (pun intended) to Great Lakes Naval Station in scenic Waukegan, Il. During the first week of training my division and I went to get our uniforms, and it was a mechanical process to put it mildly. We all lined up and single file proceeded through various stations being issued socks, shirts, and underpants. I shuffled along holding a cardboard box that for all intents and purposes held all my worldly possessions. Eventually I came to the end of the line where unbeknownst to me my peacoat was waiting in a box among dozens like it. Without a hint of pomp or ceremony this guy grabs one and dumps it in my box before barking at me to move along.
If I wasn’t in such an environment I would have burst out laughing. It wasn’t a moment to be celebrated but rather a big fuck you. Those creepy twins were going to be so disappointed, and I was sorry I had to miss it.