Games. In normal society, the concept
of "games" take on a positive, happy, and njoyable
connotation. Like many other things, the world of bootcamp redefines
such concepts and actually reverses meanings. The last thing
that you wanted to do in bootcamp was to play games because
to a drill instructor, playing games resulted in his pleasure,
One night one of the recruits, Private Carpenter, received
a package and after it was opened, it was discovered that
there was entire batch of homemade fudge inside. Of course
the slobbering recruits could never be allowed to have such
a desirable and decadent treat. But it provided a perfect
opportunity for game time.
SGT Robinson was feeling very charitable that evening.
He asked the recruit if he would like to eat the fudge. Suddenly,
a wave of confusion swept over the platoon. Is this the same
SGT Robinson that ate a two-recruit omelet for breakfast every
morning? Was this the same SGT Robinson that would deny recruits
the basic necessities of life if it was not against the rules?
Who was this strange creature who so exactly resembled SGT
Robinson and what had he done with the real one? We soon found
Just before the Carpenter popped the first piece of fudge
in his mouth, millimeters from sheer joy, SGT Robinson yelled
"STOP!" in a voice so commanding that Chest Puller
himself would have hesitated. He looked at the Carpenter and
squinted his eyes like only SGT Robinson could and said, "You
can have all that you want, but you have to wash EVERY bite
down with a swig of this, Crazy." He handed the recruit
a bottle of Listerine.
The funny thing was, it did not seem to shake the Carpenter.
He popped the fudge in his throat and screwed the lid off
of the Listerine bottle. He took a swig and the look on his
face aptly reflected the combination of fudge and Listerine.
He gagged. He swallowed. He gagged again. To everyone's amazement,
he grabbed another piece. We were watching a vivid example
of stupidity in front of our very eyes. SGT Robinson did not
seem to receive either pleasure nor surprise from this turn
of events. None of us had been through the fudge/Listerine
taste but we were pretty sure that a round two was not in
order. But not Carpenter. He took another piece and crammed
it into his green face. Down went the second slug and the
display of dry heaves, choking, and guttural noises is something
that I wish I could erase from my memory. He had had enough
and SGT Robinson called him an idiot and took the rest of
the fudge in the duty hut. We collectively considered SGT
Robinson's assessment of Carpenter's intellect as correct
and never let him forget it.
But this story does not end there. A few weeks later another
recruit got another batch of fudge. This time, Senior Drill
Instructor SSGT Wertjes was on duty and the recruit, Private
Vanegas, figured he did not know about the earlier fudge-fest.
So when the senior asked if he wanted to eat it, Vanegas readily
agreed. It was not totally out of the ordinary for the senior
to treat us better so Vanegas thought he had it made.
Vanegas was wrong. After he popped in about a quarter
of the batch, he turned around to go and sit down. It was
understood that he had a one-time shot and that he could eat
only what he could eat at one sitting. As he turned to sit
down, the Vanegas heard the senior's sandpaper-like voice
mutter "Freeze." Everyone knew that Vanegas was
eyebrow-deep in sewer sludge. Vanegas knew it too.
SSGT Wertjes met Vanegas's puppy dog gaze with the look
of solid steel. When he spoke, only his mouth moved. His eyes
never even blinked. He said, "You are not done yet, Vanegas."
Drill instructors have a way of saying a name that makes it
sound like the most disgusting concept on God's green earth.
Everyone but Vanegas knew what he meant. Like a child, Vanegas
looked at him with questioning dumbfoundedness.
"YOU WANTED TO EAT IT! YOU ARE GOING TO EAT EVERY
LAST MORSEL. YOU ARE GOING TO SHOVE THAT POGEYBAIT DOWN YOUR
PIE HOLE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. NOW BEGIN, VANEGAS!!!"
As we all watched with restrained laughter, Vanegas ate
the whole box. If it was not so funny, it would have been
disgusting. It took him about a half hour and afterward, the
senior bend the hell out of us. Vanegas had to make a dozen
trips to the head and we were thrashed to the rhythm of a
lurching Vanegas whose fudge-tune echoed throughout the entire
squadbay. Bootcamp was definitely a rip in reality because
that did not seem out of the ordinary at the time.
I wonder if Vanegas can eat fudge these days. My guess
is no, not even close.