Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Chicano Diet Private

There are two kinds of diet privates at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego: those that must lose weight and the others who are required to add more. I was considered a fat body even though I was a California Community College state runner up grappler at the 177 lbs. weight class in 1984. But according to the USMC body mass index, I was a panzón. So the Second Battalion platoon number of my gray recruit sweatshirt was ignominiously spray painted with two red bars marking me a diet private. During chow time the diet privates, fat and skinny bodies, lined up to present their trays to a DI (Drill Instructor) for approval. The fat bodies gave their bread, sweets, and delicious fatty food to the double-ration skinny body privates and they gave us their bland waxed beans, spinach, or corn. Before this, I never cared for vegetables but I came to like them.

Suffering from a sugar withdraw, I hid sugar packets into my cargo pockets and consumed the sucrose in the middle of night. Now I realize how addictive sugar can be. I am glad that I was never caught. If I had, I imagine an outcome similar to the scene in Full Metal Jacket when DI Hartman busted Private Pyle with a jelly doughnut in his footlocker during a pre-turn in inspection.

Ironically, I came to be proud of my diet private status. In my final PFT (Physical Fitness Test) I scored a maximum 300 points by finishing a 3 mile run under 18 minutes, kipping 20 pull-ups, and completing 100 abdominal crunches within 2 minutes. My score, however, was mixed up with that of a private with a lower score. But I knew better than to object. I learned early in the, then, 11 weeks of Marine basic training that anonymity was a virtue.