antedating bitching (UNCLASSIFIED)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 3 22:54:46 UTC 2010

On Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 3:08 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
>> Frankly, I'm doing what we call "bitching" in the service. You perhaps
>> are fed up with it. In the service we know it is a wholesome sign of
>> normal morale as long as the men keep "bitching." When they stop, we
>> look for trouble. So while I am at it I'll go on to air one of the
>> biggest gripes of the men doing the fighting.

HDAS's first definition of _bitch box_ is the one that was in general
use in the military, back in my day. (FWIW, the HDAS cite is the only
instance of this term that I've come across in any form outside of the
military.) However, when I was in basic at Fort Leonard Wood, "bitch
box" was used to refer to a pulpit- (I say [pUl pIt], but I'm also
very familiar with [p^lp at t]) like structure situated on the company
street by the orderly room and used by the CO to address the assembled
company WRT anything that crossed his mind: "I spent this past weekend
with my girlfriend and, I want you men to know, it's as good as you
remember!" The bitch box was also used by other members of the cadre
to express more-serious concepts: "In combat, the dead have to bury
the dead, because the living don't have time to fuck with them." So
went the intro to a lecture on field first aid, to wit, the care and
treatment of the sucking chest-wound.

You know, they really ought to bring back the draft. Too few people
know anything about the military, these days, yet they talk about it.
The other night, the bad guy was caught because he supposedly had the
insigne of "Patton's Third Army" tattooed on the inside of his
forearm. It was actually the insigne of the Third *Armored Division*!
I'd have thought that anyone would be familiar with that insigne, it
being the very one that Elvis wore.

Meaningless name-drop: David Pugh, son of MajGen John Pugh, CG of the
3AD during my Army career, was a classmate of mine at the Language
School and a roommate of mine in Germany. (Former Wehrmacht barracks
taken over by the U.S. Army had 4-man rooms. The Germans subsequently
built for the Bundeswehr brand-new barracks that made the decades-old
Wehrmacht barracks look like Acoma huts - a kind of quonset hut;
pronounced "ACKuh-mo hut.")

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity,
or evil intent, we can uncumber ourselves of the impossible burden of
trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
that we could be in error, without necessarily deeming ourselves
idiotic or unworthy.
–Kathryn Schulz

The American Dialect Society -

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