Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Al Gray, a crusty old 'Field Marine', loved his Marines and often slipped into the mess hall wearing a faded old field jacket without any rank or insignia on it. He would go through the chow line just like a private. In this way, he was assured of being given the same rations that the lowest enlisted man received. Woe be it to the mess officer if the food was found to be unfit in quality or quantity.
Upon becoming Commandant, General Gray was expected to do a great deal of 'formal entertaining'... fancy dinner parties in full dress blue uniform. Now, the General would rather have been in the field eating cold 'C-rats' around a fighting hole with a bunch of young 'hard charging' Marines.
But the General knew his duty and as a Marine he was determined to do it to the best of his ability. During these formal parties, a detachment of highly polished Marines from 'Eighth and Eye' (Marine Barracks located at 8th and I Streets in Washington, D.C., home of the Silent Drill Team) were detailed to assume the position of 'parade rest' at various intervals around the ballroom where the festivities were being held.
At some point during one of these affairs, a very refined, blue-haired lady picked up a tray of pastries and went around the room offering confections to the guests.
When she noticed these Marines in dress blues, standing like sculptures all around the room, she was moved with admiration. She knew that several of these men were fresh from our victory in Kuwait. She made a beeline for the closest Lance Corporal, drew near him and asked, 'Would you like pastry young man?'
The young Marine snapped to 'attention' and replied, "I don't eat that shit, Ma'am." Just as quickly, he resumed the position of 'parade rest.' His gaze remained fixed on some distant point throughout the exchange.
The fancy lady was completely taken aback! She blinked, her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open. So startled was she that she immediately began to doubt what she had heard. In a quivering voice she asked, "W-W-What did you say?"
The Marine snapped back to the position of 'attention' (like the arm of a mousetrap smacking its wooden base). Then he said, '"I don't eat that shit, Ma'am." And just as smartly as before, back to the position of 'parade rest' he went.
This time, there was no doubt. The fancy lady immediately became incensed and felt insulted. After all, here she was an important lady, taking the time to offer something nice to this enlisted man (well below her station in life), and he had the nerve to say THAT to HER! She exclaimed "Well! I never...!"
The lady remembered that she had met that military man in charge of all these 'soldiers' earlier. She spotted General Gray from across the room.
He had a cigar clenched between his teeth and a camouflaged canteen cup full of bourbon in his left hand. He was talking to a group of 1st and 2nd Lieutenants. So blue haired lady went straight over to the Commandant and interrupted.
"General, I offered some pastry to that young man over there, and do you know what he told me?"
General Gray cocked his eyebrow, took the cigar out of his mouth and said, "Well, no Ma'am, I don't."
The lady took in a deep breath, confident that she was adequately expressing with her body language her considerable rage and indignation. As she wagged her head in cadence with her words, and she paused between each word for effect, She said, "I - don't - eat - that - shit - Ma'am!''
The lieutenants were in a state of near apoplexy. A couple of them choked back chuckles, and turned their heads to avoid having their smirks detected. The next thought that most of them had was, 'God, I hope it wasn't one of MY Marines!' and the color left their faces.
General Gray wrinkled his brow, cut his eyes in the direction of the lieutenants, put his free hand to his chin and muttered a subdued, "Hmmm Which one did you say it was Ma'am?," the General asked.
"That tall sturdy one right over there near the window, General," the woman said with smug satisfaction. One of the lieutenants began to look sick and put a hand on the wall for support. General Gray, seemed deep in thought, hand still to his chin, wrinkled brow. Suddenly, he looked up and his expression changed to one indicating he had made a decision.