"A Painting of the Barbary Coast Showing a Gay Marine Officer and a Scurvy Pirate Sharing a Sunset."

The painting to your right is one of about ten which used to hang in the lobby of the office building where I worked in, while I was stationed at Camp LeJeune, NC in the Marines. They were all "historical" paintings (which were all painfully lackluster), showing old timey Marines doing old timey things like carrying cannon balls around, loading muskets, and raising flags for no apparent reason.

While these painting were (and probably still are) kept around many Marine Corps offices in order to inspire and motivate the troops by showing how good we whippersnappers had it compared to our scurvy and gout infested, racist fore-fathers, the general reaction my friends and I would have is "this sucks." (It was our reaction to most -- alright all -- things.)

So, one day, we got to thinking: Of the seventy or so people who worked in our building, how many of them actually noticed any of the paintings? Let’s say we took one of the paintings, and, say -- I don't know -- painted in a guy who was gently, tenderly holding another man around the waist. Nothing too obscene, of course, but something transparent enough that if you actually took the time to look at the painting, it would be noticeable –- but, here’s the question: Would anyone actually notice it?

Sure, this query was most likely raised while we were all drunk off of rum, watching The Postman, and playing around in our air vents instead of doing what we were supposed to be doing (which was basically the entire aforementioned, sans the booze), but it was something which we needed answered. And with that, in what has to be considered the most well planned scheme to pilfer the dumbest possible item worthy of theft, we stole the painting from our lobby.

The most artistic Marine of the bunch (we'll and call him "Daryl" because, well, that's his fucking name), took it home and pulled out the old water colors, finessing the canvas with the stroke of a God. Unfortunately, this particular God only had primary colors, so all of the mixing was custom (read: horrible). The next day, back at the office, we pulled a maneuver straight from The Thomas Crown Affair and hung the painting back in its rightful place, front and center in our lobby. Truthfully, Daryl’s work was sketchy at best, but it was far and away better than anyone else in the group could have done, and we figured that no matter how well it was played, someone had to notice it at some point in time. It was, after all, an old timey pirate, soothingly, lovingly holding another man by the waist.

[In case you couldn't tell already, the little green guy which I have crudely circled in black (my Microsoft paint skills rival many newborn koala bears in their craptitude) was not, in fact, in the original painting. His Marine love, in blue, was. Why was he holding his left arm up in such a manner, you ask? Because he was waiting. Waiting for a sketchy pirate to softly hold him in his pirate arms and sensitively whisper in his ear “Johnny, everything’s going to be alright, arggh!”]

And we knew that if someone, particularly someone without a sense of humor, did discern it, that we, no doubt, would be blamed for what some may term the “vandalization” (if that was a word), but what we thought of as the “vast improvement,” of a tacky, common watercolor. Nobody else would have taken the time to do something so subtle, unnecessary, and -- let’s face it -- dumb. They would have known it was us.

Yet, the weeks and months went by, and nobody besides the half dozen or so of us knew. We’d walk by it on our way to the bathroom, and normally be completely and totally paralyzed with giggle fits; people would wonder what’s so funny, even as we stood in front of what Daryl describes as “a painting of the Barbary Coast showing a gay Marine officer and a scurvy pirate sharing a sunset” and, at times, pointing at the work of art, but still, only those whom we wanted to know knew.

One of the fondest memories I have from my last few days of being in the Marine Corps is of walking by the print one last time, and having a hardy chuckle at its expense for probably the five thousandth time.

(I realize that the picture, in and of itself, really isn’t that funny; its just one of those things which strikes me at precisely the right nerve and continues to send me into absolute fits to this day whenever it pops into my head.)

I had hoped for it to last for generations, hanging on the wall in splendid anonymity. Only it would know its terrible secret. And someday, many years down the road, an astutely attentive Marine would notice that something made that particular painting a little different from the rest. And perhaps he would share this discovery (which, frankly, made him a little uncomfortable in a way which only that creepy Santa whose lap he once sat upon as a boy had made him feel in the past) with a few of his buddies. And the joke would continue, down the line, for years to come.

But a few months ago, I found out that Daryl, in his last moments at Camp LeJeune, stole the fucking thing from our old office and it now hangs proudly in his living room.

And you know what? That’s even better.


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This is the kind of shit I absolutely love about Marines. Nicely done.
I gotta hand it to you, Cuz. This is very clever...and freaking hilarious. I can easily picture the "giggle fits". I still have giggle fits when I think of the time you yelled "Something!" in Tulum...I just had one.

Why on earth wouldn't the Marine Corps want to celebrate the passion that two men can have for each other? ESPECIALLY when one of those men is a watercolor pirate...I should have painted a giant squid attacking one of those ships too...or the guys on the left passing around a joint.

It hangs proudly in my house, and makes me laugh hysterically more often than is appropriate.

that is an interesting painting indeed and I think I saw one copy of that painting when I was working at a Host Per Pay Head, I tended to stare at it for minutes
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