The Military and the “F” Word – Dave Ives

Being a single officer in town can be a bit awkward sometimes; especially, when it comes to socializing with the single enlisted ladies. There are a few enlisted gals in town who are — shall we say — nicely put together. And, they can be very friendly and I wouldn’t mind getting to know them better — a lot better.

Technically, the female enlisted gals are off limits to officers. We even had a briefing recently where the DO — Lt Col French — gathered us all into a room and delivered his best General Patton imitation speech about the f-word — fraternization.

“It’s come to my attention that some enlisted and officers are developing unprofessional relationships. I’ve heard enlisted personnel call officers by their first name … doesn’t matter if you’re out of uniform — you don’t do it. And, officers, don’t let the enlisted folks get away with it. I’m told officers are dating enlisted personnel. This has to stop. We can’t run a professional unit if discipline breaks down. You must realize, the officer’s career is in jeopardy for breaking fraternization rules. If you respect your officers, don’t fraternize.”

Lt Col French was trying to come down like a “bad-ass” but it wasn’t working. His personality isn’t really suited for being the bad guy. But, everyone respects him enough to want to follow his direction. I certainly do.

It seems to me there are some things you just can’t order around — like human nature. I think human nature will trump Lt Col French’s fraternization rules every time. His speech — especially the part dealing with dating between enlisted and officer — seems to fly in the face of reality. And, as such, comes off to me as a bit comical.

Ordering men and women to not date is like ordering rain to fall upwards. You can pass the order but it won’t have any effect; the rain is gonna fall downwards and the dating will continue.

Also, these days there are more and more cases of officers marrying enlisted personnel. It happens a lot. How does that happen without dating? It doesn’t.

So, to say officers can’t date enlisted appears silly when you see officers married to enlisted members. They obviously dated; they’re still in the service; no careers are in jeopardy. Nah, the ‘no dating’ order just doesn’t add up; doesn’t make sense.

Also, if dating is considered fraternization then what’s it called when an officer and enlisted person are married? Is there a classification higher than fraternization? Couldn’t it be argued that marriage goes above and beyond — way beyond — fraternization? Wouldn’t you say, if two people are married, they’ve gone way past fraternization?

So, let me get this straight, you’re going to kick out an officer for dating an enlisted person, but everything’s alright if they’re married? How does that make sense?

It doesn’t. And, that’s why people don’t follow it. That’s why people ignore it. Besides, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty here — the bottom line — the reality of the situation …

How are you going to stop it? How are you going to stop men and women from getting together? How are you going to stop human nature?

And, now for the drum roll …

Why would you even try?

What a waste of energy and resources. You’re going to kick people out for being human; for carrying on with basic human behavior; behavior that’s always going to trump your rules and regulations.

Ordering males and females to stop dating each other is like ordering the troops to stop eating. Are people going to stop eating just because you gave the order? You’d have a hard time carrying out that order. It would be a waste time. People must eat to live.

Similarly, people seek partners to marry and have families. That’s what people do.

Good luck trying to stop it …

Well, Lt Col French’s speech was going through my mind as I stood at the disco last night glancing at several of the beautiful looking enlisted ladies. And, shall I add — friendly; nice to talk to; nice to dance with; nice to spend time with.

I was putting on my best behavior face and steering clear of the enlisted ladies. I was trying to follow the guidance from the brass.

So, I sat down at a table with some of the married civilian ladies and single ladies who work at the shops in town. Not a bad place to hang out because these ladies are also good looking, dressed nicely and friendly as well.

I was enjoying the dancing and then the music went to a slow song. I left the dance floor and stood up watching the other couples pair up and start slow dancing.

I glanced over across the room. I could almost feel the presence of someone looking at me. And, then I saw her; a young, very nicely dressed, good looking lady. She’s about as tall as me, with blonde brown hair, creamy skin — a real cutie. And, wouldn’t you know, she’s in the US Navy; enlisted.

I looked at her and gave her a big smile. That’s when she started walking over to me. She came right up near my face and said, “Lt Mitchell, would you like to dance.”

What could I say?

Here are a few responses I ruled out immediately.

  • Ah- no thanks. You remember the speech Lt Col French gave recently about fraternization … blah, blah, blah.
  • Oh, I’d love to but I hurt my big toe on the last dance.
  • Sorry, but I’ve got to go home right now; I have some regulations I need to read up on.

Instead, I responded as follows:


As we danced I felt guilty. Not because we were dancing; not because she was enlisted; but, because I didn’t ask her to dance first!

I thoroughly enjoyed our dance. It was very nice to put my arms around an attractive gal with our bodies gently colliding from time to time. I didn’t mind the collisions and I probably caused a few on purpose.

Following the dance I escorted her off the dance floor and she went back with her group of friends. I went back to my table.

I’m not sure Lt Col French would approve of my dance floor antics. But, I have a sneaking suspicion he wouldn’t really care. He was a young single guy once. And, I’d have to ask him, “What would you have done if you were in my shoes?”

All seems a bit silly. And, I’ll bet I’m not the only one thinking it. And, I’ll bet Lt Col French feels that way too but he has to tow the party line. He has to make it look like he’s upholding the “rain must fall upwards” order.

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