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From Nerd to Marine by RealMenBecomeMarines
Sergeant Kristof checked his flat top in the rearview mirror of his car. As always, it was perfectly level with a hint of the landing strip peeking through. Still, it didn’t hurt to check. He didn’t make it this far in his military career without being sure about everything. And yet, here was full of doubt.
He had a reputation for being one of the top recruiters in the service. One of his superiors joked that if it weren’t for him, there wouldn’t even be a Marine Corps. He had a knack for finding the boys who needed guidance, the firm hand of the United States military to give them purpose, and convincing them to enlist. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he got to shave their heads. After all, that was his favorite part. Watching an undisciplined young man with shaggy hair lose all those wild locks as he began down a path of extreme discipline on his quest to become a well-trained soldier in Uncle Sam’s military? Who could resist!?
But now he was full of doubt. He always brought in these young athletic men, straight off the football team or baseball team but now his division was facing what his superiors called a "brain drain." All these hot hunky soldiers were good, but there was barely half a brain cell between all of them. Sergeant Kristof was tasked with finding someone who could actually think. And that’s how he found himself parked outside the aerospace engineering building of the local university trying to find the next perfect victi--errr--recruit.
There were certainly plenty of potentials. The campus was awash in scrawny, brainy types who would almost certainly bring up the average IQ of his unit but how to pick which one to target? Usually he sought out boys with rippling physiques (and long hair) but how do you know which spindly nerd to turn into a Marine? He got out of his Hummer to stretch his legs, go for a walk, and do some thinking.
Sergeant Kristof had barely taken a step when he collided with one of the student. The student, a tall, lanky creature, bounced right off of Sergeant Kristof with his tree trunk physique.
"Excuse me, sir," the young man stammered as he struggled to find his glasses amidst the giant pile of books he had been carrying. "I’m so sorry! I was preoccupied with one of my textbooks and I wasn’t watching where I was going. I don’t mean to be so clumsy!"
The sergeant watched this pathetic excuse for a man flail helplessly on the ground and a grin spread across his face. The boy was a wimp, that much was clear. But he was clearly a devoted student, exactly the kind of brain his superiors wanted. And he was tall, too, had to be at least 6’5" though he couldn’t weight more than 160 pounds sopping wet. That was OK. That was what basic training was for. But what really got Sergeant Kristof going was the boy’s hair: an unkempt mess of ginger locks, greased and sideparted clumsily with a cowlick in the back. The hair was beautiful and messy… and boy would it look good shaved off on the floor.
Sergeant Kristof bent down and picked up the boy’s extremely thick aviator glasses. "Here you go, son." He helped the boy up and gathered his books for him.
"Gosh, thank you so much. I just want to apologize again for being so--" Suddenly the boy stopped speaking. As he put his glasses back on his head, he caught a glimpse of Sergeant Kristof for the first time. No one this handsome had ever spoken to him before, let alone help him out. The nerd took in Sergeant Kristof and his rippling physique and his chiseled jaw. But most of all, he couldn’t take his eyes of Sergeant Kristof’s precise flat top. A smile formed on Sergeant Kristof’s face. This was the one.
"I’m Sergeant Kristof, USMC," he said reaching out to shake the young man’s hand. He barely had a grip and the sergeant was scared he would break the nerd’s hand.
"I’m G-g-g-gilbert," stammered the young man. "Pleased to meet ya!"
"Nice to meet you, too, son. Say, I was just exploring your campus and figured I could use a cup of coffee. Is there a cafe on campus you could show me to?"
"Well, I was supposed to be going to the library. See, they have the illustrated edition of Lord of the Rings on hold for me and it’s always checked out so I’ve been waiting for months to get them and I’m really eager to…" Again the boy fell silent. He was nervously rambling as he so often did. But when he noticed the warm fatherly way that Sergeant Kristof stared at him, he felt almost a sense of peace.
"Come on, you can pick your book up later. I’ll even buy you a cup as thanks!"
Gilbert fidgeted nervously. It would be rude not to take this man up on his offer after all! And the sergeant was right, he could always go later.
"Sure thing, Sergeant! We can go to the cafe in the student center!"
"I’d like that very much, son. Lead the way!"
The two cut quite the image strolling across the campus. Sergeant Kristof and his giant biceps, tree trunk legs, large chest and severe horseshoe flat top contrasted humorously with Gilbert, his greasy red hair flapping in the wind, his wrinkled button down shirt tucked in to his high waisted pants, his thick glasses askew on his face. The sergeant had to walk quickly to keep up with the tall, lanky geek who was rambling on and on about his studies as he fidgeted with his pocket protector. The poor kid almost tripped over his feet a couple times. This is going to be a challenge, the sergeant thought to himself. But it would be so worth it.
Over coffee, the sergeant got Gilbert’s entire life story. The boy sure could talk… but basic training would teach him when to shut up. His father had left at an early age and his mom had to work so he was left alone alot. He would watch Star Trek reruns on the TV and develop a lifelong interest in sci-fi and space travel. That’s what made him want to become an aerospace engineer. But while he enjoyed his studies, he found it hard to focus out here in the real world.
The sergeant reached out and placed his big meaty hand on the nerd’s scrawny one and Gilbert nearly spit out his coffee.
"You know, son, I used to have similar problems. When I graduated high school, I found the real world a bit disorienting. Believe it or not, I used to be a bit of a momma’s boy myself. But that’s when I found the Marines and they made a real man out of me. Gave me the focus and discipline I needed to become the man I am today. Have you ever considered enlisting, son?" The sergeant noticed the way that Gilbert was fixating on his flattop and the way his eye twitched whenever he called him "son." Good, he was getting to him.
"N-n-n-no sir," Gilbert stammered. "I’ve always been so weak and uncoordinated. I figured the military was for athletic types!"
"It takes all kinds to protect this great nation of ours, son. If we only took men in perfect shape, well, we wouldn’t get anyone. That’s what basic training is for. Why, even you would end up strong and athletic after basic training. But your brain? That’s what would set you apart, son." He could see the look in Gilbert’s eyes. This promise of a brighter future combined with the sergeant’s dominant fatherly tone was getting to him. He checked his watch. "Listen son, I need to get going but I’ll be back on campus next week. What say we meet up for coffee again and we can talk about it then."
"Gee whiz, sir, I’d like that. I guess I should get going, too. After all, I’ve got to get my book from the library." The two men shook hands and Gilbert got up to leave, tripping over his own chair and taking a tumble. This would be a challenge, thought the sergeant.
The next week, the sergeant was waiting in the campus coffee shop, curious as to whether the boy would return. He was just about to give up and head back to the base when he heard some commotion behind him. There he was, that clumsy ginger-haired geek, struggling to get his backpack free from the coffee shop door where it had become entangled with the door handle. He finally got it free. He spotted the sergeant and waved, as the other coffee shop customers laughed under the breath. Poor kid, he definitely needed all the help he could get.
"Sorry I’m late, sergeant!" the geek said as he took a seat. "I was at the library!"
"Let me guess, you had some other fantasy novel you needed to check out?"
The boy snorted with laughter. "Gosh no! I never even checked out the illustrated Lord of the Rings book, sir! I went to pick it up last week and I noticed a display on military history and, well, our conversation peaked my curiosity so…" The boy spilled the contents of his backpack out on to the table. Tomes of military history, mostly focused on the Marine Corps tumbled out. "You know, military history is so fascinating! The tactics, the technology, the strict haircuts, um I mean, uhhh…"
"It’s ok, son. I understand your passion! And yes, the haircuts are pretty great if I say so myself."
"They sure are," said Gilbert, his eyes wide with admiration as the sergeant rubbed his hand instinctively across his wide, smooth landing strip.
"So are you thinking about enlisting, Gilbert?"
"Well, it’s certainly very tempting…"
"I think it’s a good idea."
"I see the appeal, really I do," said the nerd, hesitating. The sergeant knew he needed to turn up the heat. He pulled his comb from his pocket and ran it through the front of his horseshoe flat, making it stand perfectly at attention. Gilbert’s adam’s apple quivered as he gulped. The sergeant returned his comb to his pocket and reached across the table, taking the nerd’s hand in his own. The sergeant could feel the sweat on the boy’s flesh as he looked nervously into the sergeant’s eyes.
"You’re going to enlist, son. You’re going to make this country proud."
"Yes, sir. You’re right. I want to do this."
The sergeant smiled. Jackpot! He got up and embraced the boy (and noticed a prominent bulge in the boy’s high waisted khakis).
"We’ll go tomorrow and fill out the paperwork, son."
"I can’t wait," said Gilbert and he really meant it. An confident smile broke across his face, unlike any expression the sergeant had ever seen him make before. This boy really needed this.
"Although, if you want to make a good impression on the recruiter, there’s really one thing we should do tonight."
"Really, sir? And what’s that?"
The sergeant draped the cape over the trembling nerd’s body. His quarters were spartan--after all, the USMC had taught the sergeant that he didn’t need much to be happy--but he still maintained the beautiful vintage barber chair for when he gave his special recruits their first cuts.
"Showing up with your head shaved will show the recruiter that you’re ready to become a Marine and leave the civilian world behind. You want to show them that you’re serious, don’t you, son?"
Gilbert gulped. The sergeant took his thick glasses and the boy squinted helplessly. "Yes, sir."
"Good boy," said Sergeant Kristof. He pulled out his clippers and turned them on. The loud hum was a welcome sound for him but he could tell Gilbert was nervous. "Don’t worry, son, you’ll get used to these cuts." The sergeant licked his lips as he approached the boy’s greasy red locks and with one swipe took out his first sizeable chunk. It trickled down the cape and into the boy’s lap. The sergeant recognized the look on his face: a mixture of regret and anticipation. He also recognized that telltale bulge under the cape. This would not be the last time he cut this boy’s hair personally.
With another swipe came another tumble of ginger hair. The sergeant rubbed his thumb along the freshly shorn bristles, ecstatic to see another one of these long-haired boys well on their way to becoming a properly groomed masculine man. He tilted the boy’s head back, almost too forcefully, and stared into his eyes as he took the next few swipes. Even though the boy was squinting without his glasses, the sergeant saw the ecstasy overtaking the boy’s mind.
"You’re going to make such a perfect soldier," he told him as he took the next swipe. "The Marines will make a real man out of you. Just like they did to me. Isn’t that exciting?"
"Yes, sir," whimpered the boy as another cascade of hair tumbled down his cheek.
"Now, you’re going to have to be more forceful than that when you enlist, son. Try it again."
"Yes… YES SIR!" said Gilbert with a grin. He had never spoken so confidently, but he had never had someone who believed in him the way Sergeant Kristof did.
"Good boy," said the sergeant. The boy’s hair hung in piles all around him. He handed the boy his glasses back and heard him gasp.
"I look… so bald!" he said.
"No you don’t," said the sergeant. "But you will." He took the boy’s glasses again and pulled out the shaving cream. He worked up a lather and spread it over the boy’s bristles. He grabbed the boy from behind to brace himself as he took out the straight razor and dragged it across his scalp. The little red bristles looked like cinnamon spread into the shaving cream as he wiped it off on the towel. Scrape after scrape brought off more of these bristles until the job was done. He wiped the boy’s head down, grabbed the baby oil, and rubbed it into the nerd’s scalp until it shone brightly. Finally, he handed the boy his glasses back and heard him gasp again.
"Sir, I’m bald!"
"Shocking isn’t it?" laughed the sergeant.
"It’s… it’s so manly!" the boy gasped as he rubbed his smooth scalp.
"You look great, son. Now let’s get you home and get you to bed. Tomorrow, you’re becoming an enlisted man."
Boot camp served Gilbert very well, as it often does for boys who lack discipline in their life. He adjusted quite well to the strict schedule and though he struggled at first with the physical requirements of the training, whenever he felt like giving up, he would catch a glimpse of Sergeant Kristof out of the corner of his eye. There he was, this paragon of military masculinity, keeping a watchful eye over Gilbert. Gilbert knew if he kept at it, he could be just like this man who had placed so much faith in him. He had started to think of this man as a father figure and he knew he owed it to him to achieve no matter what. With Sergeant Kristof in his mind, Gilbert would always find his last reserve of strength and finish his training.
Pretty soon, the shy, scrawny nerd who had enlisted was well on his way to being a popular, beefy soldier. As with most men who have never worked out in their lives, Gilbert quickly began packing on muscle. The 160 pound weakling must have put on at least sixty pounds of muscle and it looked good on him. His frame filled out, his jaw became more chiseled, and at 6’5", he was becoming quite the strapping lad. He even looked good in the black rimmed glasses he had been issued. He had always been singled out for his glasses as a youth but now, these were the same glasses the rest of the recruits wore. Gilbert was just one of the guys.
The sergeant always beamed with pride when Gilbert entered the mess hall with the other recruits. This once shy nerd had become a natural leader, laughing and rough-housing with the other men. Most shocking to Gilbert himself was discovering his own natural athletic skill. He was surprisingly adept at football, although Sergeant Kristof wasn’t surprised. The boy was always interested in tactics and now he had the physical prowess to follow through. The boy became obsessed with sports. During their weekly haircut sessions, the sergeant found himself laughing at how this boy who was once obsessed with Lord of the Rings now couldn’t stop talking about football, baseball, and hockey. Who could have guessed that this geek was always a jock deep down? He just needed a push.
"Thanks for the fresh shave, Sir!" said Gilbert with confidence. Even his voice seemed deeper. As he slipped his blackrimmed glasses back on his head and fastened the elastic strap that kept them in place, Gilbert smiled. "You really got my head smooth this time, Sir!"
"Happy to oblige, son."
With the firmest handshake the sergeant had ever felt, Gilbert thanked him and headed out for a night of drinks with the rest of the recruits.
Gilbert graduated top of his class naturally. Sergeant Kristof knew he would excel at the tactical portions of boot camp but his heart swelled with pride when Gilbert placed top in the physical portions as well. Gone forever was this pathetic nerd, replaced instead with 250 pounds of pure American beef. He was going to be an excellent soldier.
That night, Gilbert came to the sergeant’s quarters for his haircut. The sergeant had been unable to squeeze him in for a few weeks and now the strapping young lad’s hair was more grown out than it had been since he started boot camp. Gilbert gave him a firm handshake and sat in the barber chair, handing the sergeant his glasses. The sergeant smiled proudly at what Gilbert had become, admiring his now 22" biceps and the new "Semper Fi" tattoo that adorned his left arm and the American flag tattoo on his right.
"Sir! I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I never could have imagined becoming who I am today and it is all because you believed in my. God bless you, God bless the USMC, and God bless the USA!"
"I always knew you had it in you, Gilbert."
"You know, Sir, you almost always call me ‘son.’ Didn’t you know? I don’t go by Gilbert anymore. I just go by Gil."
"I like that. Gil. It’s much tougher and more masculine." The sergeant began clipping the soldier’s red hair.
"Exactly Sir," laughed Gil.
"But if it’s all the same, I think I’ll stick to calling you ‘son.’"
Gil choked up for a moment. The Marines had made a hard man of him but it touched his heart to hear the man he respected most in this world call him ‘son.’
The sergeant smiled. He grabbed a can of butch wax from the counter and began massaging it into the young Marine’s scalp.
"What are you doing, Sir?"
"I have a surprise for you, son," he said. He grabbed his comb and blow dryer and styled everything to perfection. Once he was sure it was up to military standards, he handed Gil his blackrimmed glasses and watched as the young man strapped them back into place.
"A horseshoe flattop!" exclaimed Gil. "Just like yours!"
"Exactly like mine, except… well yours is red."
Gil bolted up from the chair and examined himself in the mirror with glee. His hair was perfectly level, the extremely narrow shoe exactly the same height all over. Gil loved the way the straight line of the flat top accentuated the heavy glasses he wore. He tilted his head down and admired how even it was and how smooth the landing strip was. He grabbed the handheld mirror and checked out the back. The shoe was so high and tight that he looked totally bald from behind, only the thick elastic glasses strap showing against the smooth flesh. The haircut was so precise and perfect. Each nook and cranny of the Marine’s perfect skull was visible, as accentuated and perfect as his torso looked in the tight T-shirt he was wearing.
"Holy s**t, Sir!"
"No cursing, son!"
"Sorry, Sir! It just looks so great."
"You earned it, son. You’ve made me so proud."
Gil’s eyes filled with tears as he searched the depths of his soul for what to say. He caught his reflection in the mirror and knew there was really only one response.
"Semper fi, Sir."
"Semper fi, son."
Sergeant Kristof fanned himself in his Hummer. It was too hot a day for September but here he was, parked outside the local university’s engineering building. His superiors were so impressed with Gil that they had asked Sergeant Kristof to repeat his techniques. It wasn’t exactly challenging but when the military tells you do something, you say "Yes Sir!"
Suddenly, a shadow fell across the sergeant as something blocked the sun. He turned to the window and saw an absolute beast of a man standing there, his giant torso filling the entire window. The sergeant gasped before realizing who it was. Who else could it be? A strapping lad in formal USMC gear except for the hat. Upon the man’s head was a bright red horseshoe flat top.
"Jesus Christ, son, you scared the s**t out of me!"
"Sorry Sir, just thought you might like some coffee before we start the recruitment process."
Sergeant Kristof snatched the coffee from Gil’s hand and took a sip. Blech, it was too hot for a day like this. Suddenly, the two strapping Marines noticed a young man trip and fall in the quad, spilling his books everywhere. The young man’s glasses flew from his head and he awkwardly fumbled to collect his beginnings. Sergeant Kristof and Gil both smiled.
"Target acquired, Sir."
"Target acquired, son."