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Marine Corps Ball Blues

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        My husband and I have been together since he went to boot camp, and as such, I’ve been to three Marine Corps birthday balls. I know this doesn’t hold a candle to those wives who’ve been to 10 or 15 of these galas, but three is still enough to have taught me what to do (and what not to do) at the ball.

       I totally understand that when you first meet your Marine, the uniform can dazzle you a little bit. They look very spiffy from the front, and drool-worthy from the back. You settle in to a nice routine of hanging out on the weekends, then before you know it, he’s asked you to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball.

     “Yay!”, you think, “I get to dress up and dance the night away with a really handsome Marine!”

     You read a few articles, and panic sets in. What do you wear? There’s a ceremony? What do you do? Aaaah!

     First, take a deep breath. Next, know this: the Birthday Ball is a ceremony first, and a ball second. Your actions reflect on your Marine, and can get him in trouble. Here are the basic no-no’s at a ball:

  • DON’T pick out a revealing dress. Think middle school dress code here- nothing high above your knees, nothing halfway down your back, nothing that reveals any part of your belly or boob. You may see women at the ball with revealing dresses, but these women are either hired dates (if you get my drift), or married to someone so high up the food chain- whoops, I mean chain of command- that there’s no one to look down on them. You don’t want people wondering if you’re a hired date.
  • DON’T get drunk. At EVERY ball I’ve been to, there’s one person who gets smashed at the cocktail hour, and ruins the ceremony for everyone by yelling, “OOHRAH!” every time someone says Corps. It’s disrespectful and embarrassing.
  • DON’T pull out your club dance moves. No grinding, no shaking your booty, no shimmying, no krumping or whatever that is. Keep your body parts largely to yourself.
  • DON’T talk during the ceremony. Every year, there’s a part when only the service members are supposed to stand, and one or two dates end up standing too because they weren’t paying attention. Everyone stares at them, and they usually turn REALLY red and shut up.
  • DON’T panic about meeting higher-ups. They can be identified by their white pants (staff NCO’s) or their black uniform tops (officers). They’re usually really nice, and they don’t bite (at least not on the night of the ball).
  • DON’T try to wear your date’s rank. Wives can be bad about this. Just because you’re there with a Staff Sargent doesn’t mean you can be snarky to the PFCs there. He earned the rank, you didn’t. Every wife and girlfriend there is equal.
  • DON’T forget that this is a ceremony. I know I said it before, but it is worth repeating. It’s a solemn time, and the guys are there to remember their fallen comrades, not just to drink and have a nice dinner.

Before you go thinking it’s all doom and gloom, take heart! I’ll have a list of things you SHOULD do at the ball, as well as a dress code guide, in a few days.

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Our Eventual Spiral Into Natural Living

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My husband and I never sat down and said, “Let’s be green!” Our forays into green living began slowly, and have collected faster and faster over time.

First, I grew up with a huge collection of food allergies, mostly to preservatives. I ate mostly organic food because it was “safe”, and this carried over into our married life. I also brought an insane desire to conserve water due to having a cistern at my childhood home, a composting drive thanks to living on grazed land, and an obsession with turning off lights thanks to living in a camper trailer with no generator for years. We never turn our heat or air on because our vents make a sound like Cthulu waking up and taking over the world.

Secondly, we live in Southern California, where anything and everything can be recycled. Milk jugs? Sure! Cereal boxes (and the bags inside)? Throw em on in! Your kitchen sink, banana peels, and dead mice? Probably! It’s much nicer than using the trash, because recyclables don’t smell and don’t leak on the floor when Little Man knocks over the bin.

Then Little Man came along. Breastfeeding was a no-brainer, and we opted to cloth diaper because it’s SOOOO much cheaper than using disposables. We’ve spent maybe $500 on diapers, versus the $640 we would have spent on 32 boxes of disposables, and we’ll save even more if a second baby comes along. And when we’re done with babies and diapers, we can resell them! Seriously, used cloth diapers hold their value better than ANYTHING. Forget the stock market, buy cloth diapers! Along with CDing came using natural laundry soap to avoid buildup in the diapers, and air-drying.

Co-sleeping and babywearing came next as we realized they were the only things that kept us sane. LM would start the night in his crib, then come to bed with us to breastfeed and stay there because I was too tired to put him back. We still room share with him because it’s easier than walking all the way down the hall to check on him.

Are you noticing a theme here? Natural living really intersects with frugal, lazy living. I get a big thrill from saving money, so it’s a really good choice for us!