Soul.....

..... so The Missus and I were absentmindedly watching an episode of "Pitchmen" last night while we ate our tea, when the oddest of conversations took place...

.... Billy Mays was happily whacking the shit out of his hand with a 20oz hammer while The Missus pushed her hunk of grilled salmon around her plate...

"Wow!", says she. "When they finally get around to making insoles out of that stuff that he has his hand wrapped in, they're going to send Dr. Scholl straight to bankruptcy!"

...."Yeah, well.... that'd be a good thing.... if I ever meet Dr. Scholl, I'm gonna punch him in the forehead.... I owe him one.."

"You what?! What in the WORLD could you have against someone who makes cushioned insoles?!? Cushioned insoles are little slices of heaven!"

"....Well, they may well be, but sometimes you have to be very, very careful of what you wish for..."

... laying her knife and fork aside and reaching for her glass of wine, she laughed.... "OK. I'll bite. What did Dr. Scholl ever do to you to warrant such evil ire?"

.... ".... remember when Connie and Gary were over for dinner two weeks ago?.... and after dinner we were talking about their son going to boot camp?..... and how I told them that when I was a boot at Parris Island I cried three weeks in because it was our first mail call?..... and how I sat there looking at that envelope from my Mom and cried because I suddenly realized that during those hectic, stressful, sleepless three weeks of training that I had forgotten that I even had a Mother?"...

"Yeah, I remember that. Connie seemed so shocked that you could be so focused and overwhelmed that you'd actually forget that you had a family.... that you could forget that anything existed outside of where you were AT THAT MOMENT.."

.... "well, that's kinda the point, I guess....... trust me, when you are a boot a Parris Island, those DIs are ALL that you can think of.... that's how they train you so well...... anyway, so, yeah..... but there was a second time that tears rolled down my face while I was in boot camp..... it was my own fault, sure..... but Dr. Scholl was a handy fall guy.... "

"Wait. Insoles made you cry? OK, keep going. This I simply have to hear."

...."..... back in 1990, boot camp was broken into three distinct phases.... 1st phase was drill, knowledge, rifle manual, etc..... 2nd phase was a month on the rifle range..... and 3rd phase was BWT - Basic Warrior Training out at Elliot's Beach....basically a month of living in a tent or foxhole and doing infantry-type stuff...... anyway, at the end of 1st phase we were scheduled to have a 7 mile march out to the big, White Elephants - white clapboard barracks where we'd be staying for our month at the rifle range....... in preparation for that hike - our first major mileage hike - our DIs gave us a chance to visit the base exchange to buy a few things..... and I snapped up a pair of Dr. Scholl's gel insoles to put in my jungle boots...."

"Jungle boots? I don't think I have ever seen a pair of 'jungle boots'. You still have your old leather ones, do you still have your jungle boots?"

...."... no way..... we had to have them, but I tried my best to never wear them.... I kept them polished and put away in my wall locker for inspections.... but the day I got out of the Corps, I threw those bastards in the nearest dumpster...... basically they were made for wet weather wear, you see?.... canvas uppers, very little leather, wide & knobby soles for gripping mud.... and a steel shank that ran between the waffled insole and the rubber sole to protect your feet from punji sticks.....

"Punji sticks?"

..... "yeah, well, evidently it was a huge problem in Vietnam.... the enemy would sharpen sticks and put them in camouflaged pits where GIs would accidentally fall in and step on them..... so the military came up with the idea of putting metal in the boots.."

"Ahhh. Makes perfect sense in a very surreal sort of way."

..."anyway, the day before our 7 mile hike - our first big hike with full pack and gear - I slipped those gel insoles into my jungle boots..... good god, I was in heaven...... I'd turned those olive drab pieces of shit into absolutely mind-numbingly comfortable little Cadillacs of joy... from the chow hall to the barracks..... from the quarterdeck to the obstacle course, I was in heaven with each footfall..... especially after having worn them with the ISSUED insole for the past month..... I was seriously considering sending Dr. Scholl some fan mail at the end of that first day......

"But, I don't get it. You just said that you liked them. What happened to change your mind?"

..."..... seven miles happened, Fiona...... there's a big difference in walking a hundred yards and walking seven miles...... the original insoles for the jungle boots were about an 1/8th of an inch high..... and the Scholl's insoles were probably closer to a 1/4 of an inch.... which really didn't matter for a trip to the mess hall...... but certainly made a huge difference on a trip out to the rifle range..."

... I stood up and took my cleaned plate to the dishwasher and grabbed a glass for a gin and tonic..... "those insoles - while comfortable for the soles of my feet - RAISED the profile of my feet as well..."

I finished making my gin and tonic and made my way back to the dining room table. "So, did you get any blisters on the soles of your feet?"

.... "nope..... the soles of my feet were fine...... but the tops of all ten toes blistered, burst, blistered again, and burst...... until there was nothing but raw meat..... the worst thing was?..... I could tell that I was in trouble at 1/2 a mile..... at 1/2 a mile I was hurting..... at a mile, I was dying..... and when we finally arrived at those White Elephants, the pain had moved on from the white hot searing, to the clawing, sandpaper feeling..... the fabric of my blood-soaked cotton socks acted like a cross-cut saw across the tops of each toe.."

"Good god."

.... "yeah...... it was bad...... the DIs knew that we'd all be messed up after our first big hike, though..... so as soon as we arrived at the new barracks, we were ordered to stand on top of our footlockers and take our boots off so that the DIs could inspect our feet....... I remember standing there in my bloody socks - afraid to take them off - and dreading the approach of our senior DI and our Company Commander..... I was hurt, helpless, hopeless, and afraid...... but most of all?..... I was embarrassed that I had done that to myself..... embarrassed..... can you imagine?..... barely 17 years old, and I was ashamed of what the Drill Instructors were going to think of me for being so utterly stupid..... and when the Captain and SSgt Conyers finally showed up in front of me, I had tears rolling down both cheeks..... both from pain and shame, I guess..."

"Wow. What did they do?"

....".... well, they made me take off my socks.... then they called for the corpsman..... and then they made me wear my running shoes for three days instead of my boots so that my feet would have a bit of time to heal...."

"My goodness. Hey, look! Billy Mays is hitting his hand with that hammer again."

...... "yeah, well..... good luck to those guys and their insole...... Dr. Scholl can kiss my ass...."

by Eric on July 10, 2009 | Bullshit (13) | TrackBack (0) | Military Stuff
Bullshit So Far

Bwah-hah-hah-hahhhh! Great story!

"Dr. Scholl can kiss my ass..." But keep offa Dr Pepper.

Bullshitted by Elisson on July 10, 2009 10:25 AM

Those damn boots wore blisters on me no matter what I did.

Bullshitted by GUYK on July 10, 2009 10:41 AM

Sounds exactly what happened to my son when he was at Parris Island. His feet were raw! You had a nicer DI, believe it or not. He had to keep wearing his boots.
Love your blog!
A Proud Marine Mom in Tennessee

Bullshitted by Christina on July 10, 2009 01:30 PM

Same here.

I'll never forget the first time I saw a soldier put women's nylons on his feet before his socks and boots. I laughed at him. Then had a similar experience to yours above. And I wore nylons on road marches ever since.

Bullshitted by Blackfive on July 10, 2009 04:09 PM

I bought a pair of jungle boots figuring they'd be good for working in the river bottoms and swamps. A mistake I did not repeat. I went back to my White's or hipboots.
Hipboots are actually better in the bottoms. If a cottonmouth pops you, they just kinda bounce off looking rather perplexed on the rebound.
Another thing is cotton socks. They're all right for casual wear but I hated to work in them. Started wearing rag-wool work socks and had no trouble with my feet there after.

Bullshitted by Tbird on July 10, 2009 04:45 PM

Awwww. But it wasn't Dr. Scholl's fault, tho.

And it's very brave of you to talk about it. ;)

Bullshitted by Kath on July 10, 2009 05:14 PM

If only they taught you the proper use of ellipses.

Bullshitted by Johnny Walker Purple on July 10, 2009 07:37 PM

Aw Man...bloody socks...been there under different circumstances...

Bullshitted by Sam on July 10, 2009 08:02 PM

... if you don't like my stories or the way that I happen to write, Mr. Purple, then feel free to find another place to spend your time......

Bullshitted by Eric on July 10, 2009 08:36 PM

I can remember you telling this one right before the boy had gone to boot two years ago. A horrible story that just pulls you in.

He has finally been transferred to a new unit. Still a desk-jockey but he's with an amphibious assault vehicle unit with the 1st I believe. He may end up getting deployed in February from the looks of things. Still sweating it out at 29 Palms right now though. There are worse places to be.

Bullshitted by Richard on July 11, 2009 04:34 AM

Looks like Dr. Scholl ain't the only one who can kiss your ass...

Bullshitted by Elisson on July 11, 2009 05:50 AM

Yowch!! I think I will sit for a while...

Bullshitted by Richmond on July 11, 2009 02:20 PM

Always a fan of the good Dr., myself, but then again, I always stuck with the classic foam model.

Bullshitted by Harvey on July 14, 2009 01:22 AM