the domestic tales of four sisters

Marine Corps Birthday Season

(This is not a normal post for us. Civilians might not enjoy it, in fact. But if you are a marine spouse I hope this brings you a few laughs and informs you on a few things you may not know.)



(It’s actually birthday #238, but I love this picture too much.)

There’s a phenomenon that occurs in the fall. With the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes and shorter days comes the frenzied pinning of formal gowns and makeup tutorials by grown women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Here we are just trying to catch our breath during nap time and we’re in yoga pants and breast milk stained Penn State tshirts (with holes in the armpits) and we’re trying to envision ourselves in some fancy gown hanging on some handsome marine’s arm.

Then the kid starts talking into the monitor like some baby Darth Vader letting you know it’s back to reality and you’re probably going to wear the same gown you wore 2 years ago. ‘Cause get real here … You’re a mom. And the kids need to eat.

The Marine Corps celebrates their birthday each November in the form of a super fancy ball where the marines wear their shiniest medals and perfectly pressed dress blues. The wives and girlfriends get all dolled up like a teenager attending prom. It’s a magical evening of sweat, Spanx, and uncomfortable strapless bras.

The Marine Corps Prom is a blast.


Damnit! Freudian Slip.

Here’s what happens … We pin and pin and pin all of these makeup tutorials, dresses we can’t afford (or shouldn’t afford), and shoes. Then the night arrives. On this day, for whatever reason, you’re feeling ginormous and like some dependent that Max draws in Terminal Lance comics. Hideous.

When you observe yourself more closely in the mirror you note a giant creature protruding from your forehead. That is your eyebrows. They grew together. What’s that on my upperlip? Oh that’s a mustache. Not a milk mustache like you get in the middle of the night while you’re binge eating on Oreos and crying softly into the lukewarm cup of milk. (You left it on the counter after your child demanded chocolate milk before bed. And it was give him what he wanted or shoot him.) You don’t have time to wax either because you know you’ll break out like a teenage boy going through puberty. So you tweeze. And tweeze. And tweeze some more. And pray the redness goes away. If not your secondary plan is to say you were in a horrific car accident on the way to the ball and somehow you managed to get by without a drop of blood or wrinkle on your dress.

After you remove your unibrow you note your unicorn horn-esque zit that was festering underneathe. Well, what the hell am I going to do now? Surgery. You grab all the alcohol you can find. There you are in the bathroom with a bottle of Patron dumping it all over your forehead and crying as your children claw under the door demanding Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and more chocolate milk. Your husband knocks on the door to open and find you curled up in the fetal position, sucking your thumb, while sipping Patron through the swirly straw that somehow ended up in the bathtub, weeping uncontrollably and proclaiming November 10th as the worst date on the calendar.

But, babe … it’s the Marine Corps birthday!” 

You tell the happy man to leave the bathroom before you punch his perfect face.

After the surgery is over and you’re slightly buzzed you yell for him to bring you up some wine over the baby monitor. One way walkie talkies. Brilliant. No chance for rebuttal, sucka! Your child comes upstairs and offers you his sippy cup and says you can have some of his juice. Sure… let me drink your 75% water juice cocktail that you’ve been sipping on all day. It’s probably wine by now with all the bacteria your mouth has been pumping into it since 6:30AM. Just kidding. The wine arrives. Your husband looks at you and asks once more how long you will be, then runs out of the room to avoid pooping his pants from the sight of your “I’m going to stab you in the heart” face.

Pantyhose or no pantyhose? What am I? My mother? Put the pantyhose away. Why do I EVEN OWN pantyhose!? Shoot. I have to shave my legs. You slice yourself on this night, of course. So there you are in the shower drinking wine and holding a wash cloth to your huge gash on your ankle, and the fact that you drank 1/4 of the bottle of Patron and then dumped the rest on your face doesn’t help the whole blood clotting thing. And of course the only bandaids you have? Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. They’re so couture.

Deodorant. A failed smokey eye that just becomes normal day to day makeup, only a little darker. Tons of mascara. Some lip gloss. Hair pinned back. Spritz of perfume. Dress. Shoes.

More wine.

Downstairs to greet the babysitter who convinces you that you’re gorgeous. She has to … because she just spent the previous 20 minutes texting her friends about how hot your husband is and how she wants to get into his dress blues.

You kiss the minions goodbye and head off to the ball. Slightly inebriated, with a red forehead, huge zit, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, M.D. bandaid, and wine stained teeth.

November 10th is truly a magical day.

In all seriousness, the Marine Corps ball is fun. You get to get out of the yoga pants and stained tshirts, leave the kids at home, and go out and celebrate tradition.

Here’s a few tips on how to survive the Marine Corps 238th Birthday:

1) Everyone always harps on Marine Corps Ball etiquette. And most of the time they just yell at you about what you’re to wear. Here’s the deal … Most of the people yelling at you about dressing like a whore are women. Have you ever heard about a CO screaming at a corporal because his wife showed up at the ball with her boobs hanging out? Nope. Because he most likely just stared at her like the rest of the men in attendance. The reason why people (other wives) yell about it is because we don’t want our husbands gawking at you.
Sure they’ll try to solidify their point by putting things in there like, “It reflects badly on your husband.” But I don’t know if that’s the case. My parents raised us to keep our goods to ourselves, so you’ll never see me flaunting myself for the whole room to see. Especially around the men my husband works with. They don’t need a visual of what my husband gets to experience when I’m naked. At home. With him. In bed. Get the point? So you can tune out everyone yelling at you about what to wear. Just beware … My husband won’t be looking at you. Even if he did try to I’d punch him in his downstairs and remove the likelihood of future children. So save a couple marines the trouble of having to ice their man goods and don’t slut it up. Don’t advertise what you don’t intend to sell. There ARE things that reflect badly on your marine, but like I said, I’m not sure how you dress is one of them.

2) Don’t be a buzzkill. Definitely keep the marines from trying to booby trap Gunny’s hotel room or skinny dip in the hotel pool. When you see the overly intoxicated wife making a fool of herself, ask her if she wants to sit with you for a few minutes and have some water. She will most likely agree. But you need to remember – this night isn’t about you. It’s about your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancee/etc. It’s about the Marine Corps, the brotherhood, and tradition. Don’t be the wife constantly asking her husband when you guys can leave or texting and Facebooking on your phone with this sour look on your face. You ruin it for everyone. And *THAT DOES* reflect badly on your marine.

3) Be careful with the alcohol. I assure you. If you over-drink you’ll regret it the next morning when you open your Facebook to find everyone has tagged you in some ridiculous event that you can’t even recall. And there were pictures taken. Again, *THAT DOES* reflect badly on your marine.

4) Be aware of your surroundings. This is where it gets personal. So I was at this dining out and sitting on a bar stool. One of my husband’s coworkers came up to say goodbye to me and I stood up from my barstool to talk to him. What I didn’t know is a captain had slid in behind me and sat on my barstool. I reached behind me, and it was like a slow motion train accident. I looked down to realize I had my hand on his thigh and I was sitting down.

I gave a captain a lap dance. 

I jumped up so quickly, fighting back tears, and all I could say was, “What the heck!” He was all cracking up, and I’m red faced and on the verge of puking and crying and crapping my dress. Fortunately he was a good sport and he didn’t have a date that I had to explain why I just gave her date a lap dance. In front of my husband.

From that point forward I avoided that captain like the plague. So to save yourself the trouble of giving a captain a lap dance … Just be aware of what’s going on around you. Sounds ridiculous … but I may have just saved you a good 4 years of embarrassment. You’re welcome.

5) Get a babysitter. Leave the kids at home. Trust me.

6) Leave flip flops in your hotel room or vehicle. When you inevitably take your heels off before dancing you don’t want to be walking around in your bare feet. There is dirt that will adhere to your perfectly polished feet that you won’t get off for months. Trust me and bring a pair of flips to put on.

7) A ball is a formal event. Formal means floor-length gowns.

8) Go easy on the sunless tanner. And apply it 3-4 days BEFORE the ball. Just in case you have a Miss Hawaiian Tropic incident.

9) Get the chicken. I don’t care if you like red meat or pasta. Get the chicken. Inevitably you’ll drop it on yourself and if you’re one of those girls who wear the white dresses … your worst nightmare just happened.

10) Celebrate. Have fun! This is such a wonderful tradition and one you shouldn’t cut short. Celebrate the Marine Corps with your Marine. Have fun with other spouses. Dance and be merry.

Enjoy your ball preparation, kids! Looking forward to what year 238 has in store for this wonderful branch of service.


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