So this is … week two? Week three of sobriety? I guess having lost count is a good thing, right? I went ahead and bought up some NA Busch Lights for today though — the weather is too nice NOT to grill, and I’ll be damned if I can’t at least taste a brew while I smoke these ribs and homemade mac and cheese!
This past weekend my wife and I spent a few hours just reminiscing about fun times, and we began to notice that most of my more crazy stories always involved alcohol in some way, shape or form. A couple stories I told her she didn’t even believe at first, until I called the other parties involved and got her some confirmation!
So since I’m still as dry as a white person’s skin in the wintertime, let’s take a trip down memory lane …
The Wilmington Hotel Incident
For most of my military career I had never attended a Marine Corps Ball. That is, up until my final months in the service, when I had finally scraped up enough spare cash to buy some dress blues and a ticket. So I called up an old flame to be my date and the celebration was slated to commence.
The Ball was held at a Hilton Hotel on the banks of whatever the hell river flows through Wilmington, North Carolina, and yes, we had to purchase our own rooms as well. The Corps isn’t exactly “generous” with anything …
This place was a bit ‘ritz-y’ compared to what I was used to, but I had an attractive blonde on my arm and we had pre-gamed the night with some shots already, so the confidence was high. We entered the Ball, ate and drank and danced to our hearts content, and then decided to head out for a night on the town.
Good thing I changed out of my dress blues before we did.
Now, Wilmington, NC is a pretty happening place, what with it being the home of about three different colleges. It was also roughly 45 minutes from our station, Camp Lejeune, so it saw its’ fair share of young Marines too. However, flooding the town with an entire company of us may have been a bit of overkill. Not that I would know — almost everything else I am about to recount to you was either relayed to me by other Marines who witnessed it, or by video.
Yes, video. You’ll see.
So my date (let’s call her ‘Daria’ to protect her innocence) and I started off at one of my favorite bars, with some of my closest friends and their respective plus-ones. The drinks had been flowing all night already, but by this point it was like a torrential downpour of alcohol. Everyone was vibing, everyone was laughing, and after we tipped up our fifth ‘Four Horseman’ shot, it all went dark for Dave.
There are three main keys to this night, and I will address them in the order that most believe makes sense:
Some time around 10 p.m., my buddy Lam witnessed me exiting a bar with what he said was “really loud rock crap” playing inside (he wasn’t much into that genre). Well, I mean, by “exiting” I mean “was escorted — roughly,” by a couple bouncers. Lam told me that he saw me clutching my hand, so he walked up and asked where Daria had gone. Apparently, I had no idea.
He then proceeded to ask why I was holding my hand the way that I was. To this day, I have no idea what happened to it. Come to find out later I had indeed broken my thumb, but my only response to Lam before I abruptly walked away?
Sometime around midnight, I walked into an establishment that sold food. This was probably a good idea for me at the time, but as my then-Gunnery Sergeant retold it, I didn’t exactly act with the most couthe.
Gunny told me, days (and what should have been an NJP) later, that I walked into this place and walked up to the counter. The lady, seeing that I was obviously beyond regular drunk, asked me how she could help. Supposedly I responded with a simple “food, please,” to which she politely explained that the kitchen was closed for the night.
Drunk Dave did not like this response.
Behind me was my Gunny, First Sergeant, and Company Commander, all finishing their night having a late dinner with their respective wives. Did I care? Obviously not.
First Sergeants wife was something around 7 or 8 months pregnant at this time. Surely hungry, this nice lady was simply trying to enjoy her plate of grub before turning in for bed. But Drunk Dave wasn’t having any of that.
According to Gunny, I walked right up to the table and began grabbing handfuls of this poor lady’s french fries and shoving them into my intoxicated mouth. “You okay Dave?” he asked. My response?
Supposedly I picked up the entire plate with her remaining fries and left the establishment. I still have no idea what happened to that plate.
The next morning I woke up sideways on my hotel bed, with Daria passed out next to me. Neither of us were under the covers. Daria was still mostly dressed — I, on the other hand, had nothing on but my boxers and one sock. We will get to that sock in a moment.
We got up, chugged water, made coffee, and asked each other what had happened last night. Neither of us had a clue. And for the life of me, when I was packing up, I just could NOT find my other sock. Oh well.
During our walk down to the checkout desk, a maid pushing a cart gave me a sly smile and a quick wave before busting into laughter. Did I have something on my face? Did she know I only had one sock on? What gives?
We get to the desk, and the man behind it seems to be in on the joke as well. “Did you, um, enjoy your stay (Dave)?” he asked with a knowing grin. “I did,” I replied, still thrown off by everyone’s reaction to me. “Hey, if you find a sock somewhere in my room though, feel free to just throw it away. I have more.”
His grin widened. “Oh! Here you go …” he said as he reached under the counter and produced my sock, zipped up in a sandwich bag. I was totally confused.
“Uh … where … where did you find it?”
I didn’t think his smile could get any wider, yet somehow it did. “Would you like me to tell you, or would you like to watch for yourself?” Watch?! What the hell! “Um, I guess watch?” I stammered.
“Mitch, I’m sending him your way,” he spoke into a radio. My gut sank.
He ushered me towards some security room, and the walls were adorned with multiple TV screens with CCTV cameras of all corners and angles of the building displayed on them. ‘Mitch’ beckoned Daria and I to have a seat, and went to his desk to retrieve a small tape. “Normally we delete these to re-use every couple days, but if it’s okay with you I’d like to keep this one a while,” the guard said. I nodded dumbly. “Um, okay. What … what’s on it?”
He smiled and popped the tape into some sort of player, and a paused screen appeared on the nearest television. “You ready?” he asked. I nodded again, and he pressed play …
The television showed a hallway, empty for a few moments before a pantless, shirtless, but both-socked Drunk Dave appeared. By appeared, I mean I did a somersault across the floor to end up behind a large potted fern, apparently using it for cover. After peering around it, I then popped up and cartwheeled out of screen.
The video then flipped to another camera, where I guess I ended my cartwheel in failure, as I was splayed flat on the ground before dragging myself and hiding behind a cutaway. The somersaulting and cartwheeling down the hallway continued for a few moments, always ending with me taking cover somewhere in the shadows.
Drunk Dave was playing ninja. In public. Oh God.
The time stamp read that this was taking place somewhere around 4 in the morning. The man at the checkout desk was at work at this time. How do I know? Well, Ninja Dave kept up at his task all the way across the open lobby. There were no shadows. I guess I was hoping nobody could see me. In a brightly lit foyer. Oh God.
Down another hallway, only now I was trying every door handle I came across. Finally, in a crouch, I found one that opened for me. I entered. The video stayed put, with nobody in frame. “That door leads through maintenance and down to the boiler room,” Mitch told me. “We don’t have cameras down there.”
He fast forwarded the video for, according to the time stamp, something like twenty minutes. He then pressed play again, and a second later I was crashing back out the door, in a full sprint as each camera caught my flight back to my room. I had one sock on.
Mitch knew I was going to ask when I gazed his direction, solemn as ever. “Yeah, your sock was caught between some piping. Looks like you got caught on something and it pulled it off.”
“Wait,” I said, it finally dawning on me, “nobody went down after me? I mean … you were obviously watching …?”
Mitch chuckled. “You’re a Marine,” he said. “We figured you knew what you were doing.”
Sorry, Mitch. I in fact had no idea what I was doing.
Do you have any crazy stories?