Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Semper Fi

I read this funny post by FoggyDew about the general bad-ass-ery of our boys in the Marines.  And it took me back to my high school days, when I was living overseas, and the embassies had Marine Security Guards manning the various entrances and generally keeping our butts safe.

If I saw them now, I'm sure they would look like babies to me, albeit big strapping ones.  They were so young, usually in their late teens or early 20s.

But at the time, they seemed like forbidden fruit to us high school girls.  Not that many of us actually wanted to date them -- I thought some of them were cute, but I think I realized, even at the tender age of 17, that I wasn't likely to have enough in common with any of them to sustain a relationship (plus I had a boyfriend).  But they were Older and wore spiffy uniforms and carried guns.  So there was something exotic about them.

The summer after graduation, when a bunch of us were hanging out in New Delhi before heading back to the U.S. for college, a couple of my friends had little summer romances with Marines (I think they weren't allowed to fraternize with us until we were out of high school).  We would hang out at the pool on the American compound, and have drinks at the bar, and go out dancing at the Gunghroo, our club of choice.  And the guys were all very nice, if not particularly intellectual (these were young enlisted guys, not officers).  I think we sort of thought of them as these cool older boys who worked out at the Marine House Gym and looked good in bathing suits and occasionally went to work in a security booth at the Embassy.

What a naive little thing I was.

I didn't even think about the dangers these guys faced on a daily basis.  Not that New Delhi, India, was a seriously dangerous place, but still.  The Cold War hadn't ended yet, and we had recently bombed Libya, and Khaddafi had supposedly threatened to target U.S. diplomatic posts overseas.  And you never know.  An attack can come out of nowhere.  Truly, if anyone in the embassy was at risk, it probably would have been the Marines.  They put their safety on the line to protect not only the ambassador and the embassy officers and staff, but also our little Foreign Service Brat asses, as we pranced around the pool in our bikinis, shopped until we dropped at the local bazaars, and flitted around like little colonialists, having drinks and dinner at 5 star hotels.

It may be 20 years late, but I want to say, thanks, guys.  From the bottom of my heart.


  1. I know! I've been in embassies where I look at the Marines and they look like kids. So interesting how perspective changes. I remember thinking Tony was such a grown-up at 21 when I was 17! I think that actually a number of us dated them while in high school - just very quietly since we weren't allowed to. It didn't occur to me back then that having things in common was important. But cute! Cute was important! :)

  2. I don't know that I could have articulated that having something in common was important, but there was definitely a feeling I had that dating one of them was not for me -- too much older, too different.