QUANTICO, VA - Marine Corps Ball season is fast approaching, and as America’s force in readiness approaches its 237th year of existence, Marines from all over the country are gearing up their best cameras in order to shoot their annual “Ask a Celebrity to the Ball” videos.
Rumors are buzzing around Quantico over who the Commandant will be asking this year. Will it be J. Lo, Judy Dench, or Betty White? For younger Marines, they will—as usual—be relying on the washed-up actress and former child star pool.
“I heard Mackenzie Phillips puts out… to anybody,” says Lance Corporal Dan Sorenson of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. “I’ll probably ask her. If that falls through I’m going to send an invite to the white girl from Different Strokes. I wonder what she’s up to these days?”
But not all Marines are so apt to ask a celebrity to the ball. Sergeant Pat Skinner, of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, recently brewed up a Tunn Tavern-sized commotion when he refused to join in on the sacred tradition of asking celebrities to the ball—opting to take his wife instead.
“I’ve always been a little rebellious,” says the twenty-five year old sergeant of Marines. “I did my research and found that the rules about taking a non-celeb to the ball are pretty gray. There’s nothing in the UCMJ that specifically refers to this, so I decided to treat the Mrs. to a fun night out. I ran it through my chain-of-command and they approved it."
"I’m grateful that my CO has been really supportive about this," he added.
Skinner’s pronouncement has created a much talked about controversy in the Corps.
“First they allow in the queers and now this?,” asked Gunnery Sergeant Randy Secondine of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. “This sergeant is tainting the legacy of all the Marines who came before him by choosing to take someone so clearly beneath him to our sacred ball.”
The tradition of asking celebrities to the ball dates back to 1917 when Corporal Ernest O’Toole asked famed vaudevillian actress Ethel Barrymore to his unit’s ball by utilizing early silent film technology. The ten second short consisted of O’Toole—dressed in his doughboy uniform—humping air, pointing at the camera, and mouthing the words, “You, me, November Tenth, Atlantic City.”
Officials from 1st Marine Division also issued a statement regarding the controversy.
“We’ve looked into the matter extensively and haven’t found any regulations to prohibit Sgt. Skinner from bringing his wife,” said division spokesman, 1st Lieutenant Alex Lim. “I’m afraid he has slipped through the cracks on this one. However, we’ve been exploring other options to convince him to rethink his decision. Tonya Harding, who will be attending the Ball with Major General Bailey, has been kind enough to offer her services.”
Skinner continues to defend his position, regardless of mounting pressure to make a YouTube ball request.
“Look, I love the Corps and its traditions,” he said, “but sometimes it takes the courage of an individual to change the mentality of an establishment. I don’t see why normal people and celebrities both can’t enjoy this experience.”
When asked about Skinner’s intentions, one of his junior Marines, Lance Corporal R.J. Lyon of Mansfield, MA, said, “While I don’t agree with Sergeant Skinner’s choice in ball date, I still think he’s a really good Marine and I’ll do my best to respect his decision. I still plan on asking Raven-Symoné from That’s So Raven. I just hope someone of her stature and bootyliciousness can get along with Sergeant Skinner’s non-famous wife.”