Chapter 1: Let me introduce you to Bert and Ernie...

Bert and Ernie. We all know them as the Odd Couple on Sesame Street. For me, Bert and Ernie refers to my eyebrows. Yep, they looked like two dead caterpillars glued to my face. Perfect. The epitome of loser.
So, here I am all enlisted in the Marine Corps. Just like every Boot, it looked like the Marine Corps Recruiting Office threw up in my bedroom. I had the Marine Corps Daily 7 taped onto my wall, the General Orders taped to my closet door, and I memorized, yes memorized, the Marine Corps Leadership Traits. I wore knee high socks with "Marines" embroidered on the side and every t-shirt that day forward was Ooh Rah Marine Corps. Every Marine Corps bumper sticker known to man was placed onto my back car window. Yep, I was a poolee, but to every one else, I was a Marine Corps Goddess (okay, maybe just in my head I was).
Every month at our poolee meetings/functions,  I was so "motivated' and "dedicated". I wanted to be the best...yet, I couldn't run a mile. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the whole "physical part" of the military. Every day I ran, and ran, and ran. Run time? Not so good, but it was good enough to go to Boot Camp.
I shipped off to Boot Camp the day before my 19th Birthday. Oh, lucky me. I remember walking around the airport as if I was the toughest woman there, although I was scared because it was my first time away from home (my mom literally cut the umbilical cord as I boarded the plane).
Next stop. Parris Island, South Carolina.
An Island...must be a resort of some kind. We rode in a nice, comfy bus. The front gate all lit up as if we just entered Disney World. Within a few miles, you passed palm trees and the moonlight just danced on the water on the side of the road. Beauty at its finest. Wait, was I dreaming? Was it delirium finally kicking in? That wasn't beautiful, moonlight-filled water ways, it was a swamp! The front gate? Yeah, it wasn't the entrance to the "Happiest Place on Earth" (the only Mickey Mouse I saw was the mouse in the chow hall that we named Mickey).
The bus stopped.
A skinny woman jumps on board. She had that glare. The eyes of death. You wouldn't think that you could be afraid of someone that stood 5'1 and that you could easily step on. Next words out of her mouth were, "GET OFF MY BUS AND ONTO MY YELLOW FOOTPRINTS". This is when the fun began.
Heads up, heads down. Heads up, heads down. Games. They played games all night and these games lasted as long as a game of Monopoly. 13 weeks to be exact. And in this game, you didn't want to say "Uno" as from this point forward, you did everything as a team and not as an individual.
After receiving my lovely wardrobe that consisted of sports bras (hot!), green, green drab, olive green, green camo, and brown (had to throw you off a tad), we got to write letters to our parents saying, "Dear Mom and Dad,
I have arrived and doing well. I will write you later.
Pvt Cox."
Wow. Identity taken away. No "Love your daughter, Diana". From that point forward, I was known as Cox. "COX!" "COX, get over here!" "COX, get onto my quarterdeck." Then what happened next changed me for the rest of my life. Community shower time.
Remember, I am the girl that never really worked out in gym, so I never took a community shower. I was a sheltered child. I never "waxed down there" or even tackled the bikini area. I was what the French called "au natural". And embarrassed. Granted, we all had the same anatomy, but I was scared of that shower, until I had to pee in the cup with that short, mean lady gazing me. Talk about stage fright...I have never in my life prayed to God that I could pee. "Dear God, please let me pee. Please? PLEASE!"
Oh, the end of Receiving Day 1.
November 20th. My birthday. For breakfast, I had grits and eggs that came out of a milk carton. That's the best birthday breakfast ever (that is sarcasm by the way). After we ate, I received the best birthday present ever: a set of shots in both arms, a pap smear and I received my BCG's, which stands for Birth Control Goggles. In other words, with these glasses, you ain't getting any for a long, long time especially when you have Bert and Ernie holding them up and the big PT strap resting on your Dumbo ears, holding down your afro. Just to give you a better visual. I am a white (and I stress white) woman with big ears, and hair that frizzes the moment humidity hits it. Tell me that doesn't have the men running...well, maybe they are running, just running away from me. Bert and Ernie brought such great joy to me. Thank God five years later I learned about waxing, but that's a different story.
This is the moment that the new chapter of my life began; the one that would make me who I am today.


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