Ronald Reagan was in his last few months in the White House. Depeche Mode had just played the most friggin awesome concert in the history of British electro-pop concerts at the Rose Bowl. A Mustang GT, one of the fastest cars on the road, had all of 205 horsepower. Gas was about a dollar a gallon. And I was a recent high school graduate with my entire life ahead of me.
I had finished school with decent grades and a good SAT score. What I didn't have was a strong desire to go to college. I was pretty tired of school at that point. I didn't want to go to college right away and I didn't have the money to spend a year abroad.
I had only a bare outline of a plan for my future. It was something like this:
- See the world
- Save money for college
- Get lunch
I had thought about joining the Coast Guard. It seemed like a pretty good deal. I'd get assigned to a small boat crew on the coast of Oregon or Maine and spend my days rescuing distressed boaters and interdicting drug smugglers. It would be pretty cool.
But Coast Guard recruiters don't call lazy high school graduates.
So I spent the summer sleeping late, working at a Mexican restaurant, rebuilding the engine on my 1967 Chevy truck with my friend Eric, and hanging out with my sort-of girlfriend Barbara. One day, my hands covered in grease, I got a call from the Marine Corps recruiter. He wanted to talk to me about all the great things the Marine Corps could do for me.
I had seen "Full Metal Jacket." Even though my Grandpa was a proud Marine, I wanted nothing to do with the Marine Corps. All the yelling and push-ups and marching. No thanks.
And then one day, the Navy recruiter called.