I first heard the term faux pas at a Southie/Eastie football game at White Stadium on a Thanksgiving many years ago. I was sitting with my father and Bill Carr in the stands and Joe Feeney came up to talk to them. As I listened he said something or the other about a faux pas. It’s funny how that incident stuck with me.
At the time I had no idea of its meaning. Over the years there were many times when it accurately described what I had done. Today is one of those times.
I forgot that today was the Marine Corps birthday. I totally forgot. Not even an inkling of the fact that November 10 meant anything.
I knew a judge who was inclined to give guys who served in the Marines the benefit of the doubt in some cases which I believed was entirely appropriate. The defense bar seemed to sense that so its members would tell the judge that the defendant served in the Marines. The judge began to suspect that a game was afoot wondering how come all of the crimes in the district seemed to involved Marines. The judge then used a test to determine if the defendant was really in the Marines by asking him that date of the Marine Corps birthday. The judge expected that everyone who had been in the Marines would remember that date.
I happened to be out with the judge having a beer. The judge told me about this. I responded that it wasn’t really a good test. I went on to say that when I was in the Marines the birthday was not a big deal. I only remembered one time when I celebrated it and that was at Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. All us second lieutenants had to all wear our “dress whites” and attend a very formal dinner on the first floor of our the BOQ. I recall that because it was the first time I had onion soup and I can still see the piece of French bread covered in cheese floating around in it.
The only other time I wore my dress whites was when I went off with the Basic School Glee Club to sing songs for the brass down at Mainside. We had a small repetoire of songs. I remember singing: “Over There“, “The Marine Corps Hymn,”,”The Song of the Marines” and “Johnny Get Your Gun. What was I doing in the glee club? It was simple, I’d have done anything to get out of those forced nighttime marches into the dark woods of Virginia.
After that though, I don’t recall celebrating the Marine Corps birthday and for years after I left the Marines I never did. It seemed the celebration came back into vogue over the past twenty or thirty years or so.
A couple of my siblings just reminded me of it by wishing me a happy birthday. It all began at Tun Tavern which was an appropriate venue for it. So forgive my neglect and let me say to all my fellow Marines: “Happy Birthday.”