When my cousin’s Leaky’s boyfriend graduated from the Marines Boot Camp, he invited our whole family to come down to Parris Island for the ceremony. It’s not the Oscars for Christ’s sake – just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you have to go. The very idea of an outdoor ceremony (forget that it was in South Carolina with that sweltering heat) was a reason enough for me to RSVP with a big fat No Way Jose, but then they ganged up on me.

I get it that he was doing a service to our country and he’s patriotic and we should support the troops and blah blah blah…I get all that but let me tell you a secret  – I don’t respond well to many things, and the sweltering heat is at the top on my list behind public toilets and apple cider. It just came across like a selfish request. Sure the girlfriend had to go, but why was I being punished? Don’t roll your eyes at me – I’m selfish, I recognize selfish requests when I see them! Also, if Hallmark doesn’t sell a card for the occasion there is absolutely no obligation to attend. I have never seen a “You’re really a Champ because you got through Boot Camp” card, have you? I loved the guy and all, but there was no way I was going. That was until my aunt told me that she wouldn’t hound me about how much I drank, she’d let me sleep late, but most importantly, she would give me money. She knew it would mean a lot to him to have us all there and when I was in college, I was sort of like a Times Square Hooker – I wasn’t afraid to take money for the promise of a “Hot Time” (get it “the heat in South Carolina”– a hot time?) and we made our plans. What could happen, right?

So we make our way down there and get to the hotel to drop our bags off. My aunt and my cousin went to get their nails done and that kind of crap for the ceremony the next day, so I did what any reasonable person would do in that situation: found the closest bar. My aunt’s boyfriend and I hit about six bars close to the hotel over the next few hours and I was tanked. We went back to the hotel and I went to bed without incident. That’s what I thought happened, but apparently I was so drunk and hungry from not eating before we drank, that I was scouring the halls until I found a row of vending machines. In my drunken wisdom, I proceeded to break into one of the vending machines by picking the edge of the door open and forcing my hand and shoulder into the machine so that I could loot it. I’m not sure where the super human strength came from, but I was like Superman ripping the door off of a car and reaching in to get the goodies. This might have been fine had I got the snacks and not dropped my glasses into the vending machine as I connected with a bag of Cheetos. When I peeked in to peruse the selection – my four hundred dollar frames slipped off my nose and in a flash they were gone…That’s what I get for vandalizing shit. It wasn’t like I could go to the Front Desk and say that I lost my glasses while pillaging their vending machine, now could I?

The next morning, I was awoken by my crazy aunt kicking the end of my bed and yelling to get up. I lifted my blinders to give that hooker a piece of my mind for waking me up like that, but I could see that she was already in a state. I was like “What’s wrong with you?” which  cerrtainly didn’t help her miserable mood. “What’s wrong with me? Go look in my room and see if you can tell!” Curious, I went through the connecting door to find the room covered in cheese doodles, sun chips, popcorn, munchos, and all manners of snacks strewn about everywhere. I then proceeded to tell her how disgusting her boyfriend obviously was to make such a mess because I assumed he had done it. It was a mistake to assume that. Apparently, when I came back to the room with the snacks, I told them how I looted the machine and compared myself to Robin Hood. I was in a overly sharing mood with the snacks and jumped bed to bed dancing and singing causing them to explode out of their packages all over the room…At that moment, I knew just how Mumble felt in Happy Feet when they just wouldn’t let him dance…

I didn’t really care about the mess, so I went back to lie down. That’s when then they really started screaming about how we had to go or we’ll be late for the graduation blah, blah, blah…It’s that moment when I was told that just because I went out and got drunk, I was still going and wouldn’t make them late – there was no getting out of it. I slowly got ready, but I was dragging big time and wasn’t feeling all that well. We left a half hour later and I still looked like who did what and ran to me…

There I was, emerging out of the suburban when we got to Parris Island and I knew that I was gonna stand out here. Picture me emerging from my cocoon of self-delusion, rising out and rocking my white linen suit like Puffy at one of his White Parties in the Hamptons. I’m not sure who the hell I thought I was, but with my pasty, albino-like white skin I was like a nightlight in a sea of camouflage everywhere.

Also,  what about those nasty sand fleas that inhabit Parris Island? Don’t the Marines go through enough without having to deal with these disgusting little parasites that you can’t really see that attack you in droves…They must have smelled fresh meat when I walked in and called for reinforcements to attack. I was scratching like a stray dog with fleas and immediately got back in the car. “I’m done here” I exclaimed and went back into the air conditioning. I looked over and my aunt had gotten back into the car too like nothing was wrong. “How are these sand fleas not biting the shit out of you?” I asked. She looked side to side to make sure no one was too close to the car, then threw her seat back almost flat and then ripped her hands up and under her wig to scratch for all she was worth before ripping the wig right off of her head. She went to town scratching those fleas while she shook that wig out for all it was worth. Apparently, the Rachel Welch collection of wigs aren’t insect repellent – who would’ve thunk it? (As a side note, she wears wigs because she has bad hair – don’t feel bad for her it’s not a health issue. It’s about her having bad hair people, not a medical thing)

After we took the tour and then we were supposed to head over to the stands near the field to get seats for the Graduation ceremony. I’m not sure that I was hung over as much as I was actually still drunk and the heat wasn’t playing very nicely with me. Me and my white linen suit were schvitzing up a storm and I knew this couldn’t possibly end well for me. We get to the stands and apparently, these people must have slept there the night before, because the only seats available were like thirty rows up at the top of the bleachers. When I tell you that there was not a stich of shade anywhere on that field, I am not exaggerating. I was like a sprinkler the way the sweat was pouring off of me as we made our way up.  We finally made it up and found seats in the very last tippy-top row and I was already soaked through my T-shirt from sweating. As the ceremony was starting, I started to get nauseous. I wasn’t going to make it through this ceremony and it had only just begun.

I lean across my cousin and whisper to my aunt “I need the keys to the car – I have to go back to the hotel.” She tried to ignore me as if I wasn’t there. “Hey, I said I need the keys right now – I’m not gonna make it if you know what I mean. I’m gonna be sick.” Nothing back from her and she actually turned her head away from me.” I leaned fully across my cousin and grabbed her mother’s arm and said – not a whisper this time – “GIVE ME THE FUCKING KEYS RIGHT NOW  or I am going to be sick and shit right here in these bleachers!” She couldn’t look away this time because there were about ten people tittering around us and staring at me. She gave me a nasty look and said “why don’t you just take another Imodium” as if I hadn’t already swallowed eight tablets…“If you don’t give me those God damn keys right now I will rip that wig right off your head and throw it – GIVE ME THE KEYS RIGHT NOW – I DON’T HAVE THEW TIME TO ARGUE – I’M IN A WHITE SUIT!” She handed me the keys and gave me another look of disgust…

I tried to be nonchalant and not cause  a distraction as I made my way down the bleachers, but it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know if you’ve ever been severely drunk/hung over and tried to make your way through a crowd while moving down an incline all the while clenching for all you’re worth. I was falling into people, stepping on them and knocking in to almost everyone I went past because even when I’m not mid-clench, coordination isn’t my strong suit. I thought it was over for me because I wasn’t even at the halfway point of the bleachers and my stomach was rumbling like mad…Time was of the essence and one wrong step meant the end of that white suit… I must have had fifteen comments/dirty looks/people pushing me back as I made my way down, but I finally got to the field. Then I walked partially on the field while trying to find which way to get to the parking lot when I realized that there was no way I would make the fifteen minute drive back to the hotel and, more importantly, I had no idea where the car was parked.  I was panicking and had seconds to spare when I saw the cross on the building across from where I was: God was like a lighthouse leading me through the storm…

This is the actual chapel at Parris Island.

I knew that I had mere moments and bolted off the field, across the parking lot, through some grass and into the Chapel. Sensing my distress and seeing the state I was in, a lady in the Chapel said “the restroom is back there” and pointed down a long hallway. I stormed through the men’s room door and into the first stall and let out a huge sigh of relief that my fragile white suit was still intact and would live to see another day. At least this is over, I remember thinking…but that was before I got nauseous and started to throw up. I was hovering and pivoting back and forth on the toilet as the vomit dictated; when out of nowhere I heard gunshots…I started screaming at the top of my lungs like Meryl Streep when that dingo ate her baby. It was at that moment when three patrol soldiers that had saw me running off the field and followed me to see where I was running. When they heard me screaming like a little girl, they burst into the room and kicked my stall door in as I was thrown back. If I was screaming from the gunshots before – you should have heard me now. They LITERALLY scared the shit out of me and I thought for sure I’d have a heart attack as they just peered into the stall at me guns out and drawn.

Until they kicked the door in, I had been hovering about a foot over the toilet minding my own business. In the commotion and with the force of the stall door being kicked in at me, I was thrust back and came bare cheek to porcelain on that filthy throne. Bare cheek to porcelain!!! I could not stop screaming and the three of them just burst into hysterics as I was writhing in pain half muttering/half screaming “What the fuck, what the fuck?” Who does that? It’s not right? – my skin hit the bowl…my skin hit the bowl…” They backed out of the bathroom to let me collect myself and laughed at how I got scared of the 21 gun salute…Not my shining moment, not by a longshot.

I had been gone for almost two hours as I was being assaulted by the military police, and the ceremony had ended and they were all taking pictures – thinking I had went back to the hotel so they didn’t look for me. I emerged from my worst nightmare and hobbled out the door into the sunlight to find them randomly taking pictures across from the chapel. I was still in a fog as I wandered out to hear people screaming my name and they were laughing at me and asking if I went to pray to God to help me with the hangover – I couldn’t even talk nor did I want to tell them what happened, but the lady that pointed me to the restroom inside was coming out the front door and still laughing at me and she blew my spot…No one can appreciate explosive diarrhea and its many casualties like family does.

I did learn a valuable lesson that day at Parris Island, but it’s not about how my inappropriate drinking or actions cause bad karma…I learned that I should trust my instincts more. My first instinct was not to go on the trip at all and I went against it and look how that turned out for me…

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