A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… on one particular summer I was once a high school graduate teenager attending The United States Marine Corps basic training boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.
As you can imagine I have plenty of stories describing my many adventures during that summer. One story in particular relates to the local wild life.
The beloved sand flea.
Summers were hot and humid in South Carolina. Summers were humid, but the mornings were relatively cool. This was the ideal time for our drill instructors to take us out for our traditional ‘jog’ or ‘walk’. And when I say jog or walk, I mean a 5 to 10 mile run and/ or a 10-20 mile hike (sometimes with full gear).
We’d start our morning excursion most of the time before the sun rose, and would finish our leisurely exercise (insert sarcasm here) just as the sun was starting to make the ever-loving turn from a warming quench of fresh air, to the blissful pea-soup you could drink right out of the sky. Sticky is a nice way of describing the atmosphere.
It was that time of the morning that our friend the Sand Flea would be paying us a visit.
You see, our Sand Flea friends would sleep in until the Sun started to blaze mid-morning. Then our friend the Sand Flea would show up in droves with all their family and friends to greet us during squad formation after our morning stroll. Standing in formation, sweat dripping off of our earlobes and gasping for better air because all of sudden you went from breathing the air to licking it off your lips.
Our friend the Sand Flea is a distant weird annoying cousin to the very popular mosquito. They too love the taste of humidity, let alone the succulent sweet aroma of human sweat.
THE most important rule when standing in formation is to stand still. You are not permitted to move an inch, unless you are told to do so by your drill instructor.
Order and alignment must be maintained at all times, regardless of how large that puddle of sweat is growing on the ground next to your feet. As the sweat continues to pour off of your ear lobe, and the sand fleas huddle around your ears singing their melodies in that oh-so familiar screetchingly loud and piercing sound, you must maintain strict discipline. Do not move.
While we maintained control and learned to ‘lock it up’, everyone in my squad really wanted to do this:
You never understand the true meaning of control, until you can’t swat a swarming array of Sand Fleas.