Yesterday, I had my first experience going to the Marine Corps Ball. My boyfriend, who I lovingly call a multitude of distinguished names (a few including Jaker-Bakers, Jaker-Bakerson, Jakey-Bakey) and I have been dating for almost a year now. He’s a Devil Dog, (no not THAT kind, THIS kind) and he’s a man. A man’s man. Which, in comparison, makes me really seem like a woman, a very feminine woman. It’s a fun dynamic, as I always viewed myself as a dorky, lanky theatre/art nerd. I’ve always been a guy-y girl, liking dinosaurs, and liking to play in the mud. I don’t shy away from stomping in puddles and causing destruction! However, Me-Likey a reason to get all dolled up and bust a move on the dance floor!
I first heard about the Marine Corps Ball almost a year ago, when I was out and about in the dating world.
I was dating a few men at the time, never really interested in anyone too much. Mainly, I loved meeting and learning about other people. Dating was a fun way to do that. Online dating made it so I could feel a person out before meeting them. Pre-requisites all in line, I’d agree to meet them for a drink.
But I guess the signs of boredom shone though. I started only meeting first dates at the same location, at the same time of night, and only for one drink. (What if we didn’t vibe well? No having to stick around for a meal!) I never tried to change up my game. I tried letting the dudes I met talk my ear off, because piecing people together, figuring them out was fun for me. Always a fan of analyzing suitors, I let them talk at me more than with me. If I could have broken out a notebook and pen and occasionally asked “Hmm, that’s fascinating. Now, tell me more about your relationship with your mom” without it being too obvious, I’d probably have done it.
But then this one guy.
I guess all it takes is one guy.
The first thing that pulled me into this guy, was his online dating profile. A typical selfie, in a typical bathroom, him making a Blue-Steel-esque mug. Oh, but his hot-nerd glasses… and what’s that?
Usually, I only dated between 24-30yo, and he was all of 21 at the time. I was 26.
But… but… the uniform.
I read his profile and it was well written, grammar executed correctly. Yay, intelligence! He was to the point, without being arrogant or too direct. He was warm, open.
And, I mean, uniform.
So i wrote him back, and thus began our weeks’ worth of messages. What I loved the most about our correspondence was he always talked about doing things. No “netflix and chilling” kinda vibe from this guy. “I’m volunteering for a Toys for Tots drive for the Marine Corps”. What’s that? Volunteering? Part of a community? Little kids? … Uniform?
So the time came when we had our first date. True to my nature, I tried the old routine: “Bar? Drink?” But he a threw a (much needed) wrench. “Can’t. Work.” So I was forced to change my ways. We met for coffee, in the early morning.
I still love reminiscing about our first encounter. Seeing him walk up to that Starbucks, right down the street from where I lived, watching as he grabs the door handle, and then he looks up and we see each other for the first time. Goddamn those blue eyes.
The first date went great. I won’t go into detail because if I did, this reasonably sized blog post would turn into a steamy romance novel. And honestly, we’re still writing the pages.
So that’s how I met this guy: Sir Jaker-Bakerson (I guess Jake for short). And soon after, he mentioned the magic that is the Marine Corps Ball. At the time I was working at a Vintage Clothing Boutique, and the idea of placing together an outfit, fit for the 1950’s, had me at Hello.
The day came that I found the dress. Occasionally, in my free time at the Boutique, I’d try on vintage weddings dresses (Oh- Like you wouldn’t!?) It was a dangerous game. I tried on a tea-length 1950’s champagne dress and it was awful! Because it fit me like a glove.
How dare it! Well, honestly, only my bank account was sad that day. The girl with a new 1950’s dress? Yeah, she was taking up residency on Cloud 9. True, I had only been dating King Jakely-Bakley-Noodles for a few months at the time, and I really wasn’t trying to place any pressure on the guy when I sent him the text- “Hey honey, I bought my wedding dress today!” with accompanying photo. But I was nervous when I sent it.
His response said it all.
“You look gorgeous, babe!!!!!”
I didn’t know when or where I would wear the dress. I just knew it fit me too perfectly and was too “me” to pass up. It sat in the back of my closet for over 6 months. Then, last week, the day came for the Powers of the Dress to shine:
“Jake-tastic-Bakely-boo… when is that Marine Corps Ball?”
Insert My Panicked Expression Here.
Both Jake-leton and I went back to our apartment. I immediately went to my room, tried the dress on to make sure I still fit into it (Maybe it was a glove over half a year ago, but Major Jake-McLovin is a great cook and I’m a BIG fan of his meals). As I went to look in the mirror, I saw my boyfriend, buttoning his Blues, scrutinizing himself in the mirror as well.
“Are we both doing the same thing right now?” He asked, and we laughed. Both of us were concerned about looking Damn Good at this ball. Both of us were concerned that we had waited too long to prepare for it! And both of us knew Jake-on-the-lake was too good a cook for our waistline’s good. We both also noticed that, geez, if/when/(ahhh-it’s-bad-luck-to-talk-about-it) we get married, we’d probably be wearing the same attire we are planning to for the ball.
Amazingly, thankfully, my dress and his uniform fit even better than before. Apparently, Jake-le-cook is good at making delicious-addiction worthy food at a Low-Cal price. If an Umpire could narrate my life, he would have been throwing his arms out, down on one knee declaring the situation, “SAFE!“. *Phew!
So finally, yesterday was the day. Jakey-Puddin-Pie was in the ceremony and had to go in early to practice and set up. This meant I had to arrive at the ball unescorted: Me, myself, and I. I was nervous! I didn’t really know anyone going to the ball. But I loved the idea of Jakely-bibbly-boo getting to see the Big Reveal of my completed ball look as I walk down the hallway toward him.
I arrived. And had no idea where I was going. Three events were taking place at the Convention Center that night, and I didn’t know where to go. Luckily, every Marine was dressed in their Blues, and so all I had to do was find a military man and tail him.
The women were gorgeous! Everyone went all out because it was a black-tie Gala event! I wanted to go up to everyone and tell them how beautiful they looked. They were so kind too. When I first arrived in the Convention Center, many women in long gowns were standing around drinking wine.
“Is this where the Marine Corp Ball is?”
One woman graciously took me under her wing and showed me the way. She asked where my Bakey-boo was and I told her he was in the ceremony. She made sure I got a drink while I waited and I was able to have company until he could meet me. It was very sweet and I’m so glad she spent time with me! Feeling cared for led me to reach out to all the other ladies there, strike up conversation, and make them feel as welcomed as I felt.
Jakely-biddly-boo-bear tapped me on the shoulder, and there he was! All crisp and clean in his majestic uniform.
The night was awesome. I met his friends, a few of which I had met in the past. We ate great food, Jakey-Fuzzily-Wuzzily attempted to salsa, and oh! A Master Sergeant playfully (though I’m pretty sure legitimately) tried to fight me. I think the heels I wore intimidated him. The dancing was my favorite part. Jakeley-Wakertons was really nervous about the ceremony, and as soon as it was over and he could let loose, he really busted a move on the dance floor. They played a lot of 1940’s/50’s music and we felt like we were back in a different era– we were both certainly dressed the part. I was the Prettiest Girl at the Ball. Well, ok, that’s what Jake told me at least. I know he’s biased, but I felt pretty damn special hearing it. And he looked so handsome…
So I had a great time at the ball, some would say I had a …. BALL! Hah! Get it?
And this is yet another magical evening Jaker-Bakerson and I can reminisce about when we’re old, grey, and sitting in comfy chairs next to each other. I can see it now: I probably started the day off pointing out how messy the table is after he left all his stuff on it. He’d counter that I left all the lights on before we left for breakfast earlier that morning. I’d try to convince him to walk the dog and he’d begrudgingly do it, using the Lord’s name in vain under his breath, maybe tripping slightly on the carpet as he reaches for the leash. His stumble would remind me of the time he tried to master the Salsa that one year at the Marine Corps Ball and I’d laugh. He’d look at me like I was making fun of him for some reason, but in reality I just remembered how much I love him, and how trivial a messy table is in the big scheme of things.