NORFOLK – With the E-4 Navy-wide Advancement Exam happening now, aspiring petty officers have been hitting the books in droves and actually learning about their jobs. Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Andrea Simmons elected for a novel approach.
“I’d say 95% of my job revolves around paint. How was I supposed to know this book was about BDSM?” defends Simmons, referring to E. L. James’ bestselling erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. “I started reading it last night hoping to pick up some knowledge about ship preservation and paint composition, but I just wound up getting hot and bothered.”
Advancement exams are administered semiannually, in March and September. Despite knowing their testing date months ahead of time — and fully aware of the benefits available to the next pay grade — sailors invariably procrastinate and nonchalantly dismiss their failure to advance.
“I could have totally passed the last three cycles if I wanted to,” sulks Culinary Specialist Seaman Darrell Thompson. “I just chose not to.”
Simmons, determined to not become another statistic, searched for “shades of gray” on Amazon and purchased what she thought would be “The Boatswain’s Bible.” On Wednesday evening, she found herself entangled in the sordid love story and devoured the whole book, certain of two things: she would ace her exam, and her vibrator needed a new battery.
Only after reading the Cliff Notes to review key topics did Simmons realize her error.
“Well, I did learn a lot about knot-tying,” Simmons relents. “My LPO [Leading Petty Officer] says I’ve come a long way with my rope work.”
UPDATE: Simmons became extremely flustered during her exam when confronted with a question regarding the marlinespike and its primary uses. Exam proctors reported that the sailor bolted from the examination area muttering something about “finding Boatswain’s Mate Harris!” Simmons’ test was then discarded.