When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Military Edition

July 28, 2021Eric Miller
Keeping it real

Have you ever been tempted to do this to leadership? Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Leistikow.

“When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” is a classic comedy sketch by Dave Chappelle in which he depicts normal, everyday people making the decision to “keep it real” when faced with situations in which they would typically bite their tongues. While we here at Coffee or Die Magazine favor honesty and directness, we also recognize that there are situations where it might be in your best interest to keep your thoughts to yourself — especially if you’re in the military.

We’ve all been there and felt the temptation. A senior-ranking fat body is frying your ass like the bucket of KFC Original Recipe he had for lunch, and all you want to do is snap out of parade rest and skull fuck him across the parking lot until Col. Sanders rises from the grave and stops you. But you don’t. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders and realize it isn’t worth your military career.

Comedian Dave Chappelle. Screenshot from Chappelle’s Show.

But what if you did not? What if, instead, you opted to keep it real?

Here are five examples of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Military Edition.”

Insecurity Forces

You’re a Security Forces airman dealing with a hostile spouse at the gate (it happens). She informs you that her husband is a colonel who can make your life hell. Then she makes fun of your coveted, perfectly shaved beret. While you would typically maintain your military bearing in this situation, you’re still kind of drunk from a barracks party last night and instead opt to keep it real.

A Security Forces airman checks an ID at the gate. US Air Force photo by Al Bright.

No one makes fun of the beret. You calmly lean in and inform her that she has 2.5 seconds to perform an about-face and fuck off before you yank her out through the window and then put her back in through the exhaust. She gasps. Your fellow airmen gasp. Her husband listening over the phone gasps. And then you end up gasping for air as your NCO orders you to burpee broad jump the entire length of the airfield in full kit. You’ll likely die from the punishment, but it will be a hero’s death.

Decommissioned Officer

The absolute worst NCO in your unit is giving you shit. He’s been on light duty since Bush was in office and regularly cheats on his spouse with anything that’s willing. You caught him getting weird with a pop-up target and a bottle of CLP in the field once, and now he’s decided to mess with you. Instead of replying with the standard “Roger that” and going about your day, you decide to keep it real.

A soldier engages pop-up targets during weapons qualification. US Army photo by Paolo Bovo.

You pull out your phone and show everyone in attendance the video of him “qualifying” with the pop-up target. The fact that he got his shot off before the target cycled one iteration only added insult (and amazement) to injury. Word got back to the SHARP rep about your video, and swift action was taken. You end up getting the boot while the NCO gets to keep his soft shoes … and the pop-up target.

Lady Problems

You’re a highly competent female service member who’s just been promoted ahead of her male peers. Some fragile egos are having trouble reconciling this, and not long after your promotion, you hear a gaggle of your former peers speculating as to how exactly you got that promotion. You check your watch to see what time it is, and you notice that it’s time to keep it real.

Keepin' it real
A female noncommissioned officer and a concerned-looking joe. US Army photo by Sgt. Jeran Placke.

You put the whole group at parade rest and ask them whose horn they blew to get their ranks. You go on to accuse one of throwing in a Mississippi Bird Bath for the commander while his buddy got off to the races in a Kentucky Tractor Puller with the senior NCO.  Then you accuse the third man of receiving a Milwaukee Blizzard from his platoon commander to get promoted. You’re feeling pretty good about everything until the joes snitch, and you have to explain in detail what each sex act is to the senior NCO and commander. You lose your rank, and Kool-Aid is banned at the unit level.

Boot Camp Bust

After years of being the toughest kid at your school and every barbecue you’ve ever been to, you decide to join the Marines. You’ve said for weeks that if a drill instructor (DI) gets in your face that you’ll drop him. And you really mean it. Day One at Parris Island, and some poor DI makes the mistake of yelling at you. It’s time to keep it real.

Keepin' it real
Don’t do it, boot. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kailey Maraglia.

You’re about to do what every recruit in history has thought about doing — punching your DI in the face. You roll up your sleeves to reveal a Chevy logo tattoo on one forearm and your first name on the other. You try to sucker punch the DI like you did your stepdad. Unfortunately, this DI has killed more people than you have holes in your drywall and is ever-ready to fuck someone up. You receive a near biblical ass-whooping and wake up in a hospital back home. You have to drink all of your meals through a straw for a few weeks but insist that you actually won the fight. You didn’t.

Captain Chewing Out Iraqis

You’re an infantry commander tasked with training and aiding a less-than-enthusiastic Iraqi police force. The local police force is perfectly content sitting back and allowing Americans to fight and die for their country, and you’ve had it. You grab an interpreter and call a formation consisting of the entire police force and their command. You could give a politically correct speech and motivate the troops, but instead, you decide to keep it real.

Iraqi policemen attempt jumping jacks in unison. Screenshot from legendary YouTube video.

You begin your speech by informing everyone that they’re a bunch of “fucking pussies” and regularly remind them of it throughout. Someone talks out of turn, and you immediately threaten to beat his ass. You then turn and tell the entire formation that you will gladly beat any of their asses before turning to their commanders and informing them that they too are, in fact, pussies. You spend a solid five minutes delivering one of the best military speeches since Patton and then quietly fade into history. This is the only example where keeping it real actually worked out, and there is a video of it here.

Read Next: ‘Born in the U.S.A.’: America’s Most Misunderstood Rock Anthem

Eric Miller
Eric Miller

Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.

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