The Frocking Date

Today they held the frocking ceremony on J’s ship.

What is frocking? It sounds kind of… bad, doesn’t it? Like it might even be painful. Well, back in the old days, the sign of a Petty Officer or commissioned officer was that they wore a frock coat. When they got promoted, it sometimes happened at sea before the Navy could approve it, so they’d put on the frock coat and act as the new rank without getting paid yet. The same basic principle applies today.

Getting to the frocking ceremony turned out to be a bit of an adventure. We were told early in the week that it would be at 10:30 on Friday morning. Two days ago, it changed to 2:30 on Friday afternoon. Last night it became 8:30 Friday morning. They also changed the location a couple of times and finally settled on the pier, or so I was told. J confirmed that families were invited to come and let them know I would be there, so at 8:00 this morning, I left for the pier.

Background information: All this week, J has been getting home at 9:30 or later because of a clogged drain on the ship. I won’t go into too much detail (for your sake, dear reader, and you should thank me), but suffice to say I learned that the Navy owns a giant version of a plumbing snake, uses the fire main (i.e. big hose) for lots of things other than fires, and that stupid people tried to flush chicken pieces down the drains. This means J and I have both been exhausted since I wait up for him and we haven’t been having dinner until 10pm or so and then get up at 5am because they’ve insisted he be back by 6am every day. You’ve got all that? I’m tired. I’m frustrated with them keeping him all the time. They change the frocking ceremony repeatedly (and I canceled a possible interview, which I’ll get into later).

I got down to the area where the ship is, in the shipyard section, and started trying to find parking. Because it was at 8:30 in the morning, all of the lots were full. I had to drive about a quarter mile away to park and walk to the pier. I finally got there, already frustrated that I spent almost 30 minutes finding a place to park, and J met me at the gate to escort me back to the ship. It turned out that they moved the whole thing onto the flight deck of the ship. That’s right, the entire crew was packed onto the flight deck.

The other fun thing? I was the only spouse that came. I’m guessing that had something to do with the constantly changing schedule, but it’s just a guess. A hunch, even.

Anyway, J fell into place and I stood to one side, very frustrated by that point. The captain hadn’t arrived yet, but this other man I didn’t know came over and shook my hand. He told me his first name (though it’s escaping me at the moment) and I told him who I was.

“How are you today?” he asked.
“Oh, I could be better,” I said.
“Why is that?” he asked.
“Well, it was a really big pain to get here today. There’s no parking in this part of base and they kept changing the ceremony times.” At this point, I did what any smart, supportive military spouse would do: I started crying. I wanted to fall through the floor at that point, but I was hot and tired and fed up with the whole ship. Oh, and the only spouse there. There was that bit, too.
The guy looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry, that’s my fault. It’s a proud day for your husband, though. What would make it better?”
“Well, it would be nice to have him home for lunch,” I said. “And I’m so sorry, I’m not usually like this.”
“Oh, it’s all right, and I think I can have him home for lunch today. And thanks for the feedback, we need to hear things like that.”

That wasn’t so bad, right? Right?

Right. Well, the guy changed caps just then for the ceremony, which was about to start. The new cap was labeled. It said “XO.”

That’s right. I just bawled in front of the Commander of the ship and told him what a bad job he’d done coordinating the frocking. Like I said, I wanted to hide.

The outcome? Well, J got the rest of the morning off and I took him back after lunch, so that was good. I apologized to the XO for being rude, but he told me I had no reason to apologize. J told me later he probably doesn’t get much honest feedback so it might have done some good in the long run. I sure hope so. The XO was nothing but nice to me, and seems to be a decent guy overall according to what J’s said about him.

So that was my adventure. J is now a First Class Petty Officer.

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