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Grooming Standards

August 22nd, 2008 by Adam

As anyone who has been through boot camp will tell you, we did a lot of stupid things daily that made no sense. One such practice was tucking our shirts into everything. If you’re wearing uniform pants, tuck your shirt in. If you’re wearing exercise (PT) shorts, tuck your shirt in. If you’re wearing a sweat suit, tuck your sweatshirt in. The point: We always had to have our damn shirts tucked in. The military also has written directives on how to do almost everything. One such directive is the “Marine Corps Grooming Standard” that dictates our hair cut, our weight, our glasses, and how we wear our clothes. There is a line that specifically states “The face will be clean-shaven, except that a mustache may be worn.” It’s that first part that got me in trouble. We didn’t learn verbatim the shaving part, but we did shave everyday so maybe they figured we’d keep up the practice or maybe I was just sick that day.

I have the curse of having a 5 O’clock shadow by noon, because of this, shaving everyday for me is not only a pain in the ass figuratively it’s a pain on my face literally. I countered this by not shaving all weekend or on days off so I could give myself a break. This was all well and good if I would have had my own place to live outside the gates, but when you live on base there are countless number of people who are waiting to not only point out your problem but also tell you about it loudly. It makes for some drama. One such incident occurred when I went shopping with the wife.

It was a typical Saturday morning, I was sitting on the sofa in my boxers, drinking coffee, watching TV, when the wife then says, “I want to go to the mall.” So I head to the mall without shaving. It didn’t cross my mind until who should come walking the other way but the Sergeant Major who is a career grunt, who is going through culture shock by serving in his first Intelligence Battalion in over 20 years. We didn’t get along. He worked harder and I worked smarter. The two worlds could not be further opposite. Upon seeing him I quickly did what any man would do in that situation, I hid in the nearest store in hopes that he wouldn’t see me or my “Elvis Beard” (I know Elvis never wore a beard, but to many a Sergeant Major he did and, he was also used to illustrate all contradictions to the grooming standard.) After he passed, I went back to my wife who was standing in the center of the mall with a very confused and annoyed look on her face. I thought I was safe, but come Monday it was apparent that I thought wrong.

As I passed his office I hear a bellow from his office summoning me. I tried the dumb approach and entered his office with a smile (Mistake 1) and said, “Good morning Sergeant Major! What can I do to you?” (Mistake 2). He told me that entrance was disrespectful and he’d address that shortly but first, “Didn’t they teach you in boot camp to shave every day? Didn’t your highly motivated, truly dedicated, Drill Instructors tell you that a Marine is to be clean shaven daily?”. To which my prep school smugness kicked in and I responded with a very dry, “Yes Sergeant Major my DI’s did have me shave everyday, but then again, they also had us tuck our t-shirts into our underwear so I just figured it was another cruel joke.”

As I watched his eyes bulge, his face turn red, and his teeth began to grind, I noticed the vein on his forehead begin to swell so I knew I was in for a real treat. He proceeded to verbally assault everything about me except my mother.

I expected this reaction, so the yelling didn’t really bother me. What I took away from the whole thing, however, was this:

The Sergeant Major was not a witty man. If he was he would have told me to pull my pants down to make sure my T-shirt was tucked into my underwear and then yelled at me for that too.

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23 Responses to “Grooming Standards”

  1. barry Says:

    reason why im in the army!


  2. ArchaicDome Says:

    lol- we had to tuck our undershirts into our underwear in the Army, too, Barry. The difference for me was that the Army doesn’t issue girls their underwear, so it was, um, NOT standardized. Sometimes it’s hard to tuck your undershirt into your underwear. Doesn’t stop you from getting in trouble for it.


    Michiel reply on August 22nd, 2008 9:12 pm:

    Wow, the picture of a t-shirt tucked into a thong… HOT!


    barry reply on August 22nd, 2008 9:35 pm:

    i was talking bout the tucking into the underwear part


    ArchaicDome reply on August 23rd, 2008 3:13 am:

    so was I. I was in the Army, and we had to do it too. And thanks, Michiel. :)


  3. Andrew Says:

    I think all military basics require you to tuck un your shirts. When I was in basic your shirt was tucked in no matter what. We had a guy who liked wearing t-shirts that were about 4 sizes too large. So he’d get that wonderful bunching right below the waitband of is pants. Our instructor dubbed him “Doughnut Butt” and the name stuck.

    Captcha: St. Inevitable – the patron saint of all pessimists


  4. Former WM Says:

    On a related note, don’t forget the “Belt” thing. If it had beltloops, you WOULD wear a belt.

    I am embarrassed to admit that at school at Camp Johnson I was the overly-zealous duty one night at the e-club and I would make people lift their shirts to see if they had belts on, and if not, send them back to the barracks.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, they say ;)


    Chris reply on August 27th, 2008 2:09 am:

    Huh, we had to do that in middle school.


  5. anselm Says:

    My god, I wouldn’t last a week in the army! I tuck my shirts and wear a belt, but I also deal really badly with anyone trying to tell me that.

    Props to those who can hack it!

    Captcha: Kurzrok out


    CCO reply on August 22nd, 2008 10:33 pm:

    Hey Anselm,

    The point of basic was, to me, you don’t know what you can do until you try — or are made to try in the case of my climbing Victory Tower at Fort Jackson. Since I was blessed to serve in peace time, for me it put painting the gables on my momma’s house in perspective.

    Out here,

    (Captch: 25 glided: a really overloaded sled!)


    mack reply on August 28th, 2008 8:54 am:

    Kurzrok out… Seacrest crack??

    Ice Hamiliton: Tasty beer.. Who want’s a cold one? (captcha)


  6. djapavlak Says:

    I’m writing my congressman, our service men should aloud mutton chops!


  7. ineedhelpbad Says:

    The millitry has all sorts of stupid rules take the sodomy law for example. It makes it illegal to get or give a blowjob, even to or from your spouse.


  8. SPC Hyle Says:

    Sodomy laws cannot be enforced between two consenting adults, however. Supreme Court has ruled as such.


    SKD reply on August 25th, 2008 9:35 am:

    And I am fairly certain you would have a tough time fighting for your right to get a BJ. No, the military is not allowed to ask if you commit sodomy but if you brag about it and someone with the authority and a post up their nether regions wanted to send you up the chain as per the UCMJ regulations then you are going to be SOL. Likelihood of happening? Not very.

    Remember, military personnel can legally be punished in double jeopardy fashion due to being subject to both the law of the land and the UCMJ.

    Last I checked the Supreme Courts rulings only affect the articles of the UCMJ when made on a case brought before them specifically concerning it. If you have an example you can reference to me that shows that the Supreme Court decision applies to the UCMJ as well then I will happily revise my stand.


    SPC Hyle reply on August 26th, 2008 1:56 am:

    Hearsay evidence? TDS would laugh at that. Laugh. I’ve seen guys busted by the civilians for underage drinking get off completely free–UCMJ was overturned when TDS got hold of it because the cops did not file a police report. Field grade dropped outright.

    This? If you aren’t committing adultery, statutory rape, or selling a film as pornography, they can’t do shit.


    skippy reply on August 26th, 2008 2:13 am:

    You might not get a court-martial for hearsay evidence, but you can certainly be punished for it.

    SKD reply on August 26th, 2008 2:19 am:

    Whether or not it is “hearsay” is or can be considered evidence is based on the credibility and number of witnesses. If they can get sufficient credible witnesses to testify that you said it then they can prosecute you.

    If the guys you have known were “busted” by civilian police and and a police report was not filed then in that case it was perfectly legitimate to overturn the decision based on the fact that the arresting officer did not properly follow procedures.

    BTW what is TDS? Navy background here and I have never run across that particular acronym.

    SPC Hyle reply on August 26th, 2008 10:15 am:

    Trial Defense Services. They had a field day with stuff like that. No police report and just the word of one guy (not the guy who got busted)? Slammed the door on that one.

  9. ineedhelpbad Says:

    I remember a story in the newspaper (army paper) of a Drill Sergeant who got a BJ from one of his privates and was charged with sodomy (and adultery), only three years ago.


    SPC Hyle reply on August 26th, 2008 10:16 am:

    Amongst other things, largely because having sex with a private while a DS will get you a court-martial for several other offenses.

    Captcha: missionary st



  10. The Jarhead Says:

    Nice ne Adam I too have tried to duck into a store or cross the street or anything else you can think of to avoid that senior man.


  11. RR Says:

    I’d get yelled at every day in the military. I’m like you, I’ve got a constant 5 o’clock shadow no matter how much I shave. Do they force you to shave twice a day in boot camp or do they just ride you for it and make you shave closer?


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