I'm Johnny Gung Ho
I get a dress off wherever I go
I shine my breastplate up
I write my classmates up
I go to chapel twice on Sunday
I love to be hazed
Before I go to bed I say The Days
And my Tac thinks I'm STRAC
'cause my girlfriend's a WAC
And my favorite color is grey. - Traditional West Point song
If you've devoured the Avengers comics and movies with anywhere close to the voracious appetite I've demonstrated, you too know about the intense personality disharmony between Captain America and Iron Man. The good Captain is what we old D&D players used to call "Lawful Good"--he fights on the side of good against the forces of evil because it's the Right Thing to do. Laws are vital to him. So are Rules. So, of course, are Authorities.
Meanwhile, Iron Man, aka Tony Stark, is an unrivaled genius who was born wealthy and earned himself the title of Billionaire Playboy before he became a superhero. Stan Lee's vision of a corporatist superhero, he plays by the rules so long as they suit him, and then he doesn't. He's a good guy, luckily for the world, and so the D&D folks would most likely call him "Chaotic Good." He's the quintessential "ends justify the means" kind of guy--one who'll face off against a demigod without his suit of armor, wielding only a glass of whiskey to protect himself.
The pairing makes for some awesome internal tension throughout the Avengers storyline. Of course, everybody knows that in the end they'll fight side by side and win one for Truth, Justice, (to Captain America) and "Yeah, whatever" (to Stark).
As you can probably tell from reading between the lines of the traditional West Point tune I quoted above, we had our share of that internal tension there as well. Some were straight, righteous, wanting to see justice done and rules followed. Others, well, didn't. I like to think of myself as a poor version of Stark, personally. Oh, I got the job done--I graduated, didn't I? Dean's list, in fact, most terms. I had a lot of fun along the way, saw some awesome places, did some cool crap, and formed some incredibly long-lasting relationships as well.
Anyway, one of the lectures Captain America gives Stark and Thor in the Avengers movie gave me flashbacks to an event at West Point that I don't talk about much.
See, it was a dark and stormy night....
Okay, no, it wasn't stormy. Was dark, though, and kind of chilly, it being Thanksgiving weekend. The thing about hanging around West Point over Thanksgiving was that the place was fairly well deserted; most cadets headed off to see their own parents or parents of friends during that time. Those of us who hung around, then, got a nice, quiet time with no lines to the racquetball courts.
We did, however, have to sign up for food. Normally our presence at the cadet mess hall was expected, but over a holiday they needed to plan for the number of meals to prepare. Thus, some time before the actual weekend those of us who planned to eat in the mess hall would have to sign up for meal tickets.
Unfortunately, one of the few cadets who showed up for a chapel choir practice that evening hadn't signed up for meal tickets. She hadn't planned on being there at all, but her other plans had fallen through. Thus, she didn't have any food waiting for her in the mess hall.
And she was a plebe.
Plebes couldn't just run off post to get something to eat the same way upper classmen could. They also couldn't just hop on down into the quad to pick up a pizza in West Point's own Mama Brava Italian food paradise. They either ate in the mess hall, or they went hungry.
I didn't like those options.
Now, a smart TOSK would've bought her a pizza and let her head out to wherever she found to peacefully eat it. Problem was, while I as a junior could carry a pizza pretty much wherever I wanted on post, she as a plebe carrying a pizza would've been like a trophy buck carrying a red flashing light on the first day of hunting season. Thus, I did the only thing I could think of to satisfy the requirements given in the scenario--I invited her to my room to eat a pizza I bought on the way.
Now, at any other college that wouldn't have been a big deal. Right? And if she'd been anyone other than a plebe it wouldn't have been a big deal, either. As a plebe, though, her presence in an upper classman's room eating pizza was a first class (the most severe of four levels) offense.
Then again, the cadet barracks were pretty much deserted. We were able to slip her into my room unseen. The door had to remain open, of course, due to West Point rules about men and women being in the same room, but I had her take off her battle dress uniform top (no, I know what you're thinking, and she wasn't topless--she had her brown t-shirt on under it) so that her lack of rank insignia wasn't evident.
(I must admit that seeing my own classmates--women of strength, agility, and intellectual power--in battle dress pants and a form-hugging brown t-shirt did inappropriate things to my internal rawr. But I did mention that she was a plebe, right?)
So there we were--two cadets, neither of visible rank, eating pizza peacefully in my room. Standing. Not touching. I mean it--nothing was going on. I mean, yes, at the time she did fit my overly-testosterone-based definition of "hot," being in the age range of 18-35, articulate, and blessed with breasts as she was, and yes, later on, once she became legal, she and I might've briefly seen each other a little bit differently, but at the time--no. Nothing.
I mean, come on. No way would I ever put the move on a girl of any class, much less a plebe, in the frickin' cadet barracks. That's asking for a one-way ticket home. No. Way. Granted, the academic halls were a different story, but I mean it--that's a different story.
It's one that I only tell once in a very blue blue moon, and then only when I'm really drunk.
So anyway, everything was fine that night till the CQ ran by to make his checks.
The CQ--Cadet in Charge of Quarters, but shortened by one of the C's--was the guy--oh, you already guessed he was in charge of the quarters, right? One of the things he did every so many hours was walk around to make sure everything was okay. He did so then, walking by my room and looking in, his eyes seeing me and then the girl, stopping for a brief bit of a second, and then heading on.
You know that sinking feeling when you know you've been caught? I had that. The guy who was CQ that evening was the company's Captain-est of the Captains America. *sigh*
A second or two later he poked his head back in the room and asked to see me in the hall. Uh oh. Turns out, he recognized the plebe from one of the groups he was in with her. Was that her, he asked me. Of course I said yes--even a miscreant like me believed in the Honor Code, after all. That's when I got The Lecture. I don't recall much of the specifics, my brain being clamped down into fight or flight mode, but I do remember something about his disappointment in my actions and how they were forcing him to write up a friend and company-mate and blah and blah blah. And blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah.
A lot of people were actually overjoyed at the news, believe it or not. I'd already been caught on a second class offense as well as more third and fourth class write-ups than I ever bothered to count. This first class zinger was sure, some thought, to send me a'packin'.
One of those, incidentally, was my Tac, the regular Army "Tactical Officer," Tac for short, assigned to each cadet company to oversee discipline and such. He'd had just about enough of me, he explained gleefully in his office on Monday, and couldn't wait till justice was served. I might as well start packing my stuff and preparing to leave Hogw--er, Hudson High--er, Yoosmay. (sorry)
Funny thing was that it didn't play out precisely that way. I mean, yeah, reading this blog by a West Point graduate, you probably already figured out that I didn't get shipped back home. But here's how it happened.
First and second class levels of discipline could only be adjudicated by the Regimental Tac, while lower levels of discipline (the ever-present eight and four being one) were handled at the company level. In my case, the RT was away on a well-deserved vacation, and his disciplinary power either hadn't been or couldn't be delegated. Thus, my company Tac (and the other happy onlookers) had to wait a week for their day of righteous glory.
It wasn't to come, though. The girl was in a different regiment, and her RT happened to be on duty. She went into her speedy trial, explaining about how she knew what she'd done was wrong and would never do it again, but also how she'd been so hungry, and there was nothing going on but two choir-mates eating pizza, and so on. It was a solid mitigation, and so she walked out with one of the lowest fourth class penalties you could get--eight (demerits) and four (punishment hours).
Boy, was my Tac furious. Red-faced, he locked me up (made me stand rigidly at attention, eyes to the front, neck back) as he verbally chewed up one side of me and down the other. I heard all about how I didn't deserve the chance I was being given (and, to be honest, I probably didn't, but hey, there it was) but that to be fair he had to reduce my own penalty to fourth class.
I thus added to my total eight demerits and eight hours of punishment tour ("tour" being a sloppy term for dressing up fancy and walking back and forth 'tween the barracks) for my egregious pizza-serving.
I never fed a plebe again.
Sometimes, I guess, the good guys win. Sometimes, the bad guys win. Sometimes, whether it was the good guys or the bad guys who won depends on your orientation.