I'M FULL OF SUGAR, NAKED, AND HAPPY!
Now I know better.
The first ex-marine I met was 'The Venerable Rood', who lived four doors down on the same floor of a residential hotel as myself. Several years in the Marine Corps had left him with a taste for well-built men, stiff drinks, and tight leather pants. A plurality of all of these defined his life-style. Evenings, in his world, meant spanking. Which one could hear from any corner of the building. The tearful spankee would then be comforted with gin.
A year after that, when I was living in The Bachelors Quarters (a residential hotel for single men), I met G.R., and 'Bert and Ernie'.
Bert and Ernie had first known each other in the Marine Corps. When they got out they moved to San Francisco at the same time, though separately. They always denied that they had a thing going, but they always ended up living in the same building, and could always be found in each other's rooms. No, they didn't do anything in public that might be suspect. They did not go for blatant displays of affection. They didn't betray their praedilections with tenderness or hugs. They were both far too manly for such softness.
Instead, Ernie would visit Bert's room, and while Bert was distracted Ernie would hide a giant foot-and-a-half long pink rubber novelty dildo in Bert's bed. Then, mission accomplished, he would take leave and head back to his own room. Ten minutes later Bert would come roaring down the hallway waving the object, and bang on Ernie's door with it. "Let me in, let me in, you bastard, I don't want to see this ever again!"
A voice would come from behind the locked door, softly averring "Ernie no es acqui, you come back later, gringo". To no avail. The pounding with the pink rubber dildo continued unabated till Ernie relented, and the thing returned to Ernie's chest of drawers.
When Bert left the building, Ernie would sometimes go onto the roof of the building next door, walk over to Ernie's window, let himself in, and hide the dildo again, for Ernie to discover at eleven o'clock when he got off work.
They would occasionally beat each other up, or do laundry together in their boxers. They were banned from several local laundromats.
They now live in Portland.
It wasn't until I met Spanner and Rotorhead that I realized that one could be an ex-marine, yet fully heterosexual.
Spanner played golf with himself when he got off work at three in the morning, practicing his putting on the carpet in the long hallway of the Skyway Hotel. Click, whirrrrrrrr, tink. Click, whirrrrrrrrr, plonk. Dribble dribble dribble. The activity would be punctuated by a beer can being opened, or a swear word exclaimed. And the phrase "you can't escape, you don't get out alive".
This behaviour used to drive Swamiji in the room at the end of the hall to distraction. The first couple of nights, Swamiji came storming out of his room yelling. After Spanner pushed him over several times, Swamiji thought the better of that course of action and eventually moved to another room far from the putting green. The sight of one intoxicated gentleman in baggy boxers altercating with another intoxicated gentleman in a baggy dhoti is now permanently burned in my mind.
Spanner eventually married a woman with five kids and moved to Fremont.
I do not know if he still plays golf.
Rotorhead dated depressive punk girls, collected old radios, and frequently lost his balance due to having been shot out of the sky over Beirut. His inner ear was permanently damaged. Other than that, he was refreshingly normal; he deliberately ignored all the voices in his head.
As he put it, he didn't listen to anybody who didn't speak English, even if they were yelling 'incoming, incoming'.
AND BACK TO GAIETY
G.R., whom I mentioned before telling you about Bert and Ernie, was perhaps the most well-balanced of all the ex-marines. The only behavioural pattern which could possibly be conceived of as even slightly problematic was his early morning custom of marching to the shower entirely naked, hiding his manly bits with a towel held before. Like Lord Drummond (another tenant), he would practice opera under the running water, his deep basso profundo sending Italian lyrics into the airwell; it was a morning ritual much appreciated by other tenants. Folks just like good singing, okay?
Unlike 'The Watersprite', he did not use the wash-basins in the third floor hallway, even if the showers were occupied - he would patiently wait. Humming. Naked. In the hall. Towel in one hand, soap in the other.
He looked imposing at those times, in his tall and be-paunched fuzzy nakedness. He radiated a state of being at peace with the world. His standards were firm and solid. Nudity, cleanliness, and opera went together, and that meant peace of mind. This was obvious.
One day there was a very loud domestic disturbance in the alley next to the hotel.
The showers were occupied, G.R. was waiting his turn, and he was getting more and more agitated by the screeches and wails from outside.
Finally he threw his cigarette down, stomped over to the window overlooking the alley, and screamed "I'm full of sugar, naked, and happy, dagnabbit!"
Shocked silence replaced the screeching and wailing.
Earlier today I was standing outside having a smoke, when the spitting image of G.R. walked by. For a second, I could see him again in my mind, full of sugar, naked and happy.
And I smiled - it was a flashback to the marines.