As you should know (from the About Michael tab), in what passes for real life I am a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. Up until a couple years ago I was a submariner by trade; since then I transitioned into the education and training side of Navy life, as I’ve reached the limit of what I’ll be allowed to do in submarines. That was a bitter pill to swallow; it would have been cool to Captain my own boat. But also highly annoying in a lot of ways, most of which spring from Nuclear Power. Don’t get me started.
That said, I’m still a qualified submariner, still think submarines are awesome, and still like to be around submariners. Consequently, when I learned that the annual Submarine Birthday Ball was this past weekend, my wife and I cleared out schedule, hired a babysitter, got all fancied up, and went out to the gala. Fun, fun!
I’m one of two submarine officers at my command, and the other guy opted not to go. Aside from him, I know one other submarine guy in San Diego (which is decidedly odd, considering the submarine force is such a small community – there are a total of 5,000 submarine officers on Active Duty, last I checked). So I sat at the table with people I didn’t know (except for this Australian fellow whom I met a few weeks ago; he’s not a submariner but he opted to come out to have a good time), listened to a speech from an Admiral whom I remembered as sort of a douche from back when he was Commanding Officer of a boat on the waterfront with me when I was a newly minted Junior Officer, watched all the submarine wardrooms from the waterfront hoop and holler and generally have a good old time, and basically felt like a complete outsider.
And in a way, I guess I am. I wear the dolphins, but I won’t be going to sea on a submarine again. Which means I’m really not part of the club. You see, a submarine wardroom is fourteen (plus or minus) guys (including the CO and XO) who spend a ridiculous amount of time together, know each other really well, and at least tolerate each other really well if they don’t actually enjoy each other. It’s a pretty tight group and oddly enough, I rather miss it. Seeing all the local wardrooms together, it hit in a way that had not before that I’m really actually done with all that, and I’m really not part of the group.
Oh they won’t tell me to piss off or anything like that. Bubbleheads stick together. Mostly. But there’s a difference between someone who has gone to sea on a boat and someone who is, and will continue to, going to sea on a boat.
Suffice it to say, this Sub Ball was not nearly as fun as others I’ve gone to in the past, primarily for that reason – I wasn’t part of it. Not really. Which kind of stinks.
Not sure if I’ll go to another one.
Oh well. Enough bellyaching. Back to the fight.