Not My Most Masculine Era

Last night, my wife and I went out to dinner with a couple that are very good friends of ours. I served with him during my time in Virginia. We have taken incredibly different routes, but we’ve both ended up in San Diego. A little over a year ago, he married the awesome lady that he was dating back when we were stationed together. Last night, I told them a story from my college days that they really enjoyed. She said that I had to write a blog post about it. Since she made my day a couple weeks ago by revealing that not only does she read my blog, but she actually enjoys it, her wish is my command. We’ll have to see if the written word can truly capture the awesomeness (ok, awkwardness) of the story.

When I received my officer scholarship, the Navy sent me to the University of Kansas. The scholarship paid tuition and my G.I. Bill covered the rent and a couple bills, but I needed a job to cover other expenses. I won’t go into detail on what type of expenses, but let’s just say that I was a 21 year old sailor. I had some money saved up, but that quickly evaporated when my car decided to leave its transmission on the side of the road in Missouri. My job search went from leisurely to desperate.

I applied at about 20 different places. The first (and only) place to call me about a job was Wal-Mart. They told me that they had an immediate opening, and it was mine if I wanted it. When I asked them what department it was in, they (rather sheepishly) said, “Jewelry.” I decided that a job was a job, and this was no time to get picky. I told them pretty much the same thing that my wife told me when I asked her out the first time, “Sure, why not.

I worked behind the jewelry counter for about 6 months before I was moved to sporting goods (I can neither confirm nor deny that the store manager made this decision with a knife to his throat). Since the jewelry counter was directly in front of the check-outs and exits, everyone that entered the store saw me standing back there.

Some of the duties were at least fairly manly. Fixing watch bands involved a screwdriver (albeit a very small one), and someone always needed to stock the men’s sunglasses. As you can imagine, however, most of the tasks didn’t fall into this category. Anytime that a woman was buying a ring for her husband or boyfriend, I was asked to model it. I consider myself fairly secure in my masculinity, but you can only hear that you have pretty hands so many times before your confidence begins to fade.

The least manly job had to be piercing ears. Like everything, however, I decided that if I was going to be a male ear-piercer, I was going to be the best male ear-piercer this side of Bentonville, Arkansas. I could wield that gun with a precision that most marksmen could only envy. I could have a hole punched through your lobe before you could even think to wince. I was good, and yes, I know exactly how sad this sentence sounds.

There was a group of girls that came in to get their ears pierced together. Since I was the only one working at that time, I took care of all 4 of them. Apparently, I did a pretty good job because it seemed that they developed a pretty decent crush on me. For months afterwards, they would come into the store, lean on the counter, and give me a starry-eyed, “Hhhiiiiiii.” Some of you may be thinking that this would somewhat restore my sense of manliness. You would be thinking that because I forgot to mention one small thing. These girls were about 12 years old. Now, I wasn’t just the sailor with pretty hands that worked in jewelry. I was now the incredibly creepy sailor with pretty hands that worked in jewelry.

Not long after that, I put in a (rather forceful) request to be moved to sporting goods. Order was restored to my world, and if I spent a little bit too much time playing with the pocket knives and cleaning the shotguns, who could blame me.

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