Friday, July 18, 2008

In Which I Drop Out Of Boy Scouts

Generally speaking, I had a pleasant childhood. I would say that I have no real complaints at all, but that is simply not true. There are always exceptions to the rule, and how I came to be a Boy Scout is one of them.

I was a pretty shy kid growing up. I didn't have many friends, and preferred to be alone most of the time. Because of that, and probably because they didn't want me to grow up to become a serial killer, they enrolled me into Boy Scouts. A lot of kids that I went to school with were in the local Pack, and my parents thought it'd be a good way for me to come out of my shell and make friends, and have fun. In theory, they had the right idea. As you will learn, though, I proved them wrong.

I remember being nervous on the ride to my first Scout meeting. I was wearing my brand new uniform, had my handbook and weekly due money, and my father in tow. I reluctantly got out of the car, and my fathers firm grip on my shoulder convinced me that I truly wanted to go. Upon entering the room where my fellow Scout's were, I noticed something was horribly wrong. My parents unwittingly had bought me the wrong uniform and handbook. Not only was I embarrassed to be the newcomer to the group, but I was also forced to sit through my first meeting wearing the uniform of the junior class of Boy Scouts. I wasn't ridiculed for wearing the wrong uniform, but it made me want even less to go to the next meeting, despite eventually getting the correct uniform.

There were a lot of kids there that I didn't know, but as young boys are wont to do, I quickly made friends with most of them. As much as I hated to admit it to my parents, I eventually came to look forward to going to Pack meetings each week. It was fun, and I learned a lot about nature, tools, and other stuff that I can't now remember. I was always a bit behind when it came to merit badges, because my dad didn't have much spare time to help me with things. He was going to college and working, both full-time, and I knew it hurt him to have to say "no" when I asked for help on the weekends.

I don't remember much about most of the kids in my pack, but I remember quite clearly the Pack Leader. His kid was the over-achiever of the group, always having the most badges, always completing new assignments first, and the first to have rumors spread about him becoming an Eagle Scout. I didn't mind the kid so much, but his father was very creepy. He was short, and not quite skinny. He had a beer gut that looked like he was hiding a party balloon under his shirt. He always wore a plain Hane's t-shirt with a pocket, and blue jeans with suspenders. He wore large, slightly tinted glasses, and had very bad teeth. He rubbed his stomach when he talked, his laugh sounded like an emphysema patients last dying breath, and he stood too close to you when talking. I always wondered how someone so uncomfortable to be around could have been appointed to a leadership position.

My pack never went on any camping trips or field trips. We didn't do much at all, actually, short of our weekly Pack meetings and monthly regional meetings. Sure, we did pinewood derby racing and we learned how to make birdhouses, but there was never any trips anywhere. I was always disappointed by that. When it came close to the end of the year, I was the furthest behind in my Pack. My Pack Leader sat down with me and basically went through my handbook and scribbled in completion dates so it looked like I was caught up with everyone. Even though it appeared that I was a model Boy Scout, all I knew how to do was carve a block of soap and tie a few knots.

I ended up dropping out of the Scouts before the next year began. I didn't retain the few things I did learn, and I didn't actually do most of what was required to pass on to the next level. It had become more work than fun, and my parents let me decide whether or not I wanted to continue. I can't say that going to Boy Scouts as a kid helped me become who I am today, because nothing I did while in the program helped me in other parts of my life. Unless you count learning how much fruit punch and cookies I can consume without getting sick as vital life knowledge.


Since I've had a few people ask, I'm going to explain Twitter. To quote their FAQ section verbatim:

"What is it? Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: 'What are you doing?' Bloggers can use it as a mini-blogging tool."

"How do I use it? Tell us what you're doing in 140 characters or less! Send your thoughts, observations, and goings-on in your day. Whether you're "eating an apple" or "looking forward to the weekend" or "Heading out of town" it's twitter-worthy."

When you have your own Twitter account, you can "follow" other people you know who have Twitter, and they can "follow" you ("following" means that their updates are shown on your Twitter homepage). You can send updates via the Internet, or via txt message from your cellphone. So if you're walking down the street and see two homeless people making out, you can let the world know about it by txting in from your cellphone. If you're at your computer at work and your cubicle neighbor just farted and it smells like skunk-meat tacos, you can tell the world how bad it smells.

It can be an interesting tool. I use it to make quick statements about things I'm thinking about currently, or if I'm going to be away from my computer for a few days I can still let people know what I'm doing.


moonspun said...

Thanks for the twitter explanation!
I was a girl scout, but didnt' like it. I don't remember why. But then my sister, who is 4 years younger was one, and I was a helper in her troop. That I liked!
Lil moonspun loves brownies and I've as of yet to figure out why. She doesn't go to school with any of the kids and doesn't know them outside of the troop. But if she likes going, she's got a great leader, I'll still bring her.
Your leader sounds CREE--EE---EEPY!

Employee No. 3699 said...

"...and my fathers firm grip on my shoulder convinced me that I truly wanted to go." Love that line. Hehe.

Actually, I was a Den Leader for three years when my son was a Cub Scout (I was totally suckered in). We did all kinds of fun things, well except that time they pelted me and my co-leader with snowballs, that wansn't fun!

My boys had more badges than most of the other kids in The Pack, but that was because we actually took the time to plan each meeting with a goal in mind. But, sometimes the goal wansn't to 'earn' anything, but just to have fun.

Too bad you weren't in my Den, you'd have remembered some stuff; like how to sing "Great green gobs of greasy, grimey gopher guts. Mutilated monkey meat. Chopped up little birdy feet." Ah, the memories...

Employee No. 3699 said...

Apparently, I can't spell 'wasn't', because I mispelled it not once, but twice.

Daddy files said...

I quit the Cub Scouts when I was a Webelo (sp?). I think I was 9 or 10 and I quit after learning the Boy Scouts don't let gay kids join. I told my parents I didn't think it was fair and so I didn't want to be in it anymore. I had gay relatives and I was mortified they couldn't join the Boy Scouts if they wanted to (even though they are both women).

But all the good and virtuous things I could've learned in the Scouts was replaced by all the drinking, smoking, gambling and other bad habits I picked up in college.

Sinners are much more fun!

Lola said...

All of those pack leaders spook me. I will never sign my son up for that scene.

I never made it out of Brownies. I was totally antisocial when I went to meetings, as I was a tomboy who wanted nothing to do with these girly girls. My mother would have to put up one hell of a fight to get me in uniform and in the door. I think I went three times.

Now, 4-H, that was a different story. Boys were in 4-H, boys with cool pets. I had horses, pet cows, pigs, you name it, and I got to hang out with boys. 4-H rocks!

Badass Geek said...

Moonspun: The Pack Leader was VERY creepy... My impression of him didn't improve any later in life, either.

Employee No 3699: I actually did learn that song through the Scouts. Having a vivid imagination, tt still kinda turns my stomach even now. And I like "wansn't" better.

Daddy Files: Like Billy Joel so aptly said, "Only The Good Die Young".

Lola: I wouldn't force my children (when I have them) to do it, either. 4-H is a good program; The Boss did that growing up and she loved it, too.

Aub said...

I was a Cub Scout once. Is that the same as a Junior Boy Scout? I can't remember for sure. What I can remember, is hating the entire ordeal. My scout leader had a certain overly-eager, "aren't we having fun," cheesiness he oozed. My pinewood derby car lost a wheel. My "neckerchief" or whatever you call it was way too short. I was what parents lovingly referred to as "husky" as a child so, as you can imagine, I looked like the very definition of the word "doofus." And I honestly was aware of that as a kid. Needless to say, I earned not one merit badge, and I was booted from scout service for dereliction of duty.

Sus said...

Re: Photography link.

Love the photos. Very nice work!

Badass Geek said...

Aub: I was a "husky" child, too. And if I didn't leave the Scouts on my own, I would have been kicked out also.

Sus: Thanks! I'll be adding more eventually. Those three were the ones purchased for the show.

Lola said...

Awesome photos, man. The "Old Man and the "Dragon Tree" are my faves.
The Boss must love the heart on paper!

Heather said...

My daughter was in the Daisies (Girl Scouts) and then in American Heritage Girls, and I have to say, the thing that left the biggest impression on me was how completely unorganized the leaders were. She also did 4-H for a number of years, mostly because she enjoyed the shooting. Her club was disbanded because the leaders left and there were no other clubs that focused on the shooting. They were marginally more organized, but just barely.

Badass Geek said...

Lola: Thanks! Both of those were "accident" pictures. I took them trying to acheive something else, and was pleasantly surprised.

Heather: There was a high degree of un-organization in my Pack, too. There were many times when there was miscommunication as to where the meetings were to be held... Which led to shorter meetings by the time I got there. Yay!

Lil Sass said...

When my mother asked if I wanted to be in Brownies I said, "Mother I am NOT wearing a brown dress!" HAHA! So snobby of me or something. And whadya know, I LOVE me some brown now. I am not much of a "joiner" so it makes sense that I didn't do those things, or the grownup version .... sororities. GASP!

Lil Sass said...

1 more thing ... re: twitter, I don't usually log in but I have a twitter widget on my mac so I can just post an update real quick. Sometimes I like to just say something quick and not devote an entire post to it.

Badass Geek said...

Lil Sass: My older sister did the Brownies/Girl Scout thing for a number of years, but my mother got her out of it when the other mothers started getting petty and backstabbing.

And that is exactly the point of Twitter... Its a mini-blog.

Jennifer said...

I'm a Lifetime Girl Scout and its not for everyone. And yes most leader's kids are overacheivers. I learned that a looonng time ago.

Badass Geek said...

Jennifer: I agree completely. I didn't mean anything negative towards the Scouts by any means... It can be a great thing for the right person. It just wasn't a good fit for me.

Kris said...

Lil Sass: I did Blue Birds. Remember that? I think that was the precurser to Brownies or something. Our dresses were navy blue so maybe you should have looked into that. We wore these lame blue bird pins upside down. If we did a "good deed" we got to turn them right side up.

Miss Grace said...

I count fruit punch/cookies consumption as a VITAL life force :)

Badass Geek said...

Miss Grace: Me too! I know now that all things in moderation prevents stomach aches later.

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