A Teachable Moment

What is a teachable moment?

It’s something that happens in your life that teaches you a lesson, a lesson you will never, ever forget.

Can you come up with a teachable moment in your life? If something leaps to your mind, it probably counts.

I can share one of mine with you, if you promise not to laugh.



Years back when I was young, dumb and full of Marine Corps life, when I wasn’t drinking, reading or playing role playing games I’d get a wild hair up my ass and want to get out and move.

The walls would close in with the same old scenes, surrounded by the same old faces, smelling the same old farts from the Jarhead on the next bunk over.

What I’d do is grab my portable cassette player (which was called a Walkman in the same way all tissues get called Kleenex), and hit the road running.

Didn’t matter what time it was, or what the weather was like. I had to get away from shit, and running while listening to music blaring into my ears got me out of the barracks and out of my head.

This particular tale of the tape took place when I was stationed at MCAS Beaufort, in South Carolina, where I got the wild hair late at night when the sky was dumping chilly rain in a dense sheet outside.

I put on layers of spandex, a hoodie, stuck my cassette player in a ziplock baggie and headed out.

For whatever reason, the wild hair didn’t take me to the normal backwoods snake trails on base that would come out near the Enlisted Mens Club.

Instead, I took a hard left out of the barracks, and headed out on the road that led out towards the Officers transient barracks… and the flight line.

There was a road that headed out that way, a road with no real destination. Just two lanes of black asphalt, a tree-lined tunnel bordered by runoff ditches.

That road would make a loop around the perimeter of the flight line, and running that road committed me to doing four or five miles in the icy rain, late at night. I could tell before I set out that I wouldn’t see another soul for the entire run. No cars, no runners, just me and the rain and the night.

As I ran, there was a part of me that thought about how far I was going, how cold the rain was, and how early I’d have to get up to go running with the platoon in the morning. The half way point loomed in my mind, that point of no return where it would be shorter to keep on going and finish then to turn back the way I came.

But most of me just ran, and listened to the tape on auto-reverse, and tried to clear my head of whatever bullshit was making everything complicated at the time.

By the time I returned to the barracks, I was steaming and sore. Muscles were knotting up, and I still had regularly scheduled physical training the next morning.

One of the unwritten rules of a Marine in barracks duty is that whatever hell you got up to the night before, even if you come rolling in dead drunk 5 minutes before PT, you damn well don’t miss formation. Aww, did you go running all night? Well then, you should have had more sense you dumbass, now get in formation, we’re going on a little light 5 mile run. Double time, harch!

Just saying. Whatever soreness I felt I had to get rid of and get as much sleep as I could so I could be ready for PT the next morning.

I hit the showers, got warmed back up, and grabbed the jar of IcyHot-style menthol/camphor crap to rub into my sore calf muscles.

I worked the blue gel into my leg muscles, and felt the first rush of cold kicking in.

Then I hit the head, took a leak and got ready to go to sleep.

Thus began the teachable moment.

After using IcyHot, or any other topical product with menthol and especially camphor as an active ingredient, WASH YOUR FUCKING HANDS.

About a minute after taking a leak, my thought process went something like this; “JUST WHAT THE OMIGOD MY DICK IS ON FIRE WHAT THE HELL OMIGOD I NEED FIRE SUPPORT WTF AH SHIT AAAARRRGGHHHHHHHHH!”

Wow, that was a bad night.

Even now, more than two decades since that day, I can tell you with utter sincerity I cannot look at a container of IcyHot without thinking that there needs to be a much larger warning label on those goddamn jars.

So… did I help The Godmother find her smile today? Hmmm?

Since this story is from a Hunter to help a Hunter smile, I thought it appropriate to use a little Misdirection to reach the punchline. 🙂

15 thoughts on “A Teachable Moment

  1. God mother i hope yu read this stie.
    i read yours i cant find a way too post there:(
    Im computer retarded at times.
    I assume and hope yu were one of the pretty voices carring me thru the sunday fun run.
    if was you i can only thank you for that


  2. im going to read godmother now too see what started this line.
    I hope she was one of the girls voices in sunday run.
    she said she would be there 🙂


  3. My learn moment was kinda dum.
    A poem from an unknown artist.
    Stranger stop and look.
    From the dust of ages. lift this little book.
    turn the tattered pages. Read me do not let me die.
    Search the fadeing letters.
    Finding some were in the broken bindings.
    All that once was I.
    That hit my soul. it redifined how i think. 40 simple words.
    I love good writers. and you one of them bear 🙂


  4. I’m glad you found your target with your smile… and you brought a smile to this hunter’s face, as well.

    Generally speaking, frequent hand-washing is best practice. Jalepenos, IcyHot, degreaser… yeah.

    I too had a Walkman [no, not really… mine was a generic knockoff, but yeah…]. I don’t run unless someone/thing is chasing me, but I took a lot of long walks with my music.

    My only question to you, because as much detail you put in your story suggests that the soundtrack was burned into your brain, is: “What was the tape you were playing?”


    • … dammit… this is why you read ALL the comments, particularly by the author, before posting…

      You don’t remember the tape. My bad.


      • In my defense, it would be hard to remember because I made mix tapes ALL the time. I took pride in the creation of the perfect mix tape, each song playing of the ones before and after, and no wasted seconds on either side of the tape.

        Ah, the lost art of mix tapes. I almost died laughing during the mix tape scenes in the movie High Fidelity.


  5. In a similar, though different vein – Red Hot Cheetos and a two liter of Pepsi do NOT go hand in hand, in you catch my drift. Although I’d heard a story of guy using them to stimulate his wife… worked well in small – very small – doses. Until he got over zealous… she was not happy.


  6. Been there… done that and learnt my lesson. I’m always triply careful now days. In my case I hadn’t applied it to myself – I was being a dutiful husband having applied it (we call it Dencorub here) to help my wife’s back! Now days she uses it as a threat…


  7. BEAR! I had NO idea you are also a Marine!! Paris or Hollywood? Brother…where’d you serve? how long? What was your classification? I HAVE ALL THE QUESTIONS!


  8. I had the exact same topical cream cause the exact same reaction for the exact same reason just last week, your timing is uncanny.

    Never again, though someone else on hearing my tale, was going to test it for themselves.

    Hope their wife has ice handy.


  9. I’ll tell you the truth. I think I told this story once before, somewhere on the blog, years ago. But, since I’ve now been writing for years and I keep telling stories as they come back to mind, I have no idea when I’m repeating myself or not.

    It would be funny to see if how I remembered it and shared it last time differed from this time…. but, since I always tell the truth the best as I can remember it, the major difference would be to see how the style of my writing may have changed over the years. I also have to admit… I don’t remember anymore what music I was listening to while running that night. But something tells me I used to remember, and just lost it somewhere in time.

    Ah well, being an old fart telling the same old stories time after time is traditional. You young folks are supposed to see I’m repeating myself and tune me out anyway, so at least we have our parts down pat!


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