This week’s writing challenge: write about humility.
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I’m glad Greg gave us this extra week because I just couldn’t come up with a response. Then, just hours before I was going to give up, I thought about something that happened forty-some years ago that will actually fit into this challenge.
I was reared not to be aggressive or combative and, as a result, I rarely got into fights in school. Okay, it’s a given: boys fight. My first fight was when I was eight or nine. I can only remember my friend and I got into some kind of argument and it ended up in a fight. The problem was that it was only two houses down from mine and the funniest thing about it was that my mother was standing on our front porch yelling, “Fight fair, Butch. Fight fair.” This while I was curled up on the ground and my adversary was kicking me in the side. Nope, didn’t win that one.
I had a couple other little scuffles as a kid, but nothing major. Then I enlisted in the Marine Corps and found out what fighting was really like and I learned how to fight for real. This nonaggressive, noncombative kid came out of boot camp ready to take on the world and knowing how to do it.
After boot camp, I went to infantry training and, while I was on mess duty, I got into my first fight in the Corps. When you ate, you picked up a metal tray and walked down the mess line. At each station, the Marine behind the serving line plopped something down on your tray. The trays were arranged with a big area for your entree and three smaller areas for your other stuff. Where the guy plopped junk depended on how you held your tray. One afternoon I’m in line and get my entree and walk over to the next place, get some mashed potatoes, go to the next place, turn my tray so the Marine can put the green beans in the corner and he... plops them down on my mashed potatoes! “Hey, [expletive deleted], what are you doing, I don’t want green beans on my mashed potatoes!”
Okay, let’s compress several minutes to a single sentence. I object, he tells me to buzz off, I say something about kicking his a$$, and he walks out from behind the line.
First, I didn’t notice how big he was. Then, I didn’t notice he came out carrying the serving spoon. (Serving spoon: eighteen inches long, BIG and HEAVY.) I put down my tray, turned to face him, and WHAP! He hit me on the forehead with the spoon. I started to sag and he reached down and grabbed both my ankles (with ONE HAND), picked me up, and bounced me up and down on my head three or four times. Then he dropped me and walked back behind the line. Did I mention that I failed to notice that he was REALLY BIG? It turned out that he was not only on the Marine Corps weightlifting team, he was one of the power lifting champions!
My first fight in the Marine Corps lasted maybe five seconds and was a total loss.