be prepared


Man, I’m sorry, but is Northern Virginia having the Worst Fucking Boy Scout Jamboree in History, or what? First, four scoutmasters died because of some freak electrical line falling on a tent, then hundreds of kids collapsed from heat exhaustion, and worse yet, they waited all day for their beloved President Bush to show up and he bagged.

Boy Scout Jamborees are unbearable suck-fests anyway, especially if your booth is something lame. When I was a cub scout for the Jamboree in Iowa, our theme was “The Magic Show,” and we delighted scouts and parents alike with our card tricks and sleight of hand. The line wrapped around the tent. The next year, however, our theme was “Mouth to Mouth Resuscitation,” featuring a dummy with inflatable lungs. Even the SUPER SCOUT DORKS told us to go screw ourselves.

That Jamboree taught me a valuable lesson, one I have not forgotten as we go into these pitch meetings in Hollywood: give the people what they want. They desire shiny things that blow up, make them scared, or capture their imagination. They do not want to put their mouth on a mannequin and simulate resuscitation, even if their lives depended on it. Besides, the mannequin mouth was disgusting from all our lips being on it, totally unsanitary by even 1977 standards.

My cousin Mark and I were doing Boy Scouts at exactly the same time, him in California, me in Iowa. He became an Eagle Scout, the highest rank, and even got one of the American flags that flew over the White House (they change the flag every day). I didn’t even make it past the Webelos, and I’ll tell you why: my den mother’s house smelled so unbelievably awful, so rank and foetid, that I fought back nausea every meeting.

The Boy Scouts in Iowa – and indeed a lot of the country – were led by the Mormons, so I felt like I couldn’t quit lest I let the extended family down. In fact, I loved being a scout, wearing the uniform to school on scout days, and getting all those merit badges for shit like learning what an “awl” was. But the smell was just too bad. I’m sorry, dad and mom, you really helped me with my rolled-up bandana, and the badges I got for planting trees in Hiawatha. But I’m glad I finally get to tell you why I quit: I spent most of the time in the bathroom breathing inside my shirt.


0 thoughts on “be prepared

  1. Bud

    I went to the first Nat’l Jambo’ at AP Hill in 1981, one of the most memorable experiences of my childhood.
    Besides hearing the Oak Ridge Boys sing ‘Elvira’ (woohoo), I met kids from all over the country, and the world. One of the California kids had this amazing-sounding thing called a ‘Walkman.’ Also, we met real live soldiers (I developed a terrible crush on one female soldier who visited us every day and answered all of our endless stupid questions). Heck, I even met the king of Norway. What more can you ask when you’re 14?
    The weak spot was getting up early one morning for mandatory viewing of the British royal wedding on some scoutmaster’s tiny b&w tv. Ghey.
    Of course, there were lots of competitions (I am a certified firebuilding champ, yo) and other activities. No preznit. But then, who needed him?

  2. Steve

    Just for clarification the power line didn’t fall. The scout masters put their pole right under and into the line. Some were electrocuted with their own kids watching. What a horrible tragedy. At least one man killed was from a Morman troup. I never knew about that connection.
    I never did scouts. I went to one meeting and saw the same bullies who tormented me on the playground sitting around in a menacing group. I quit right then. I was always envious of those camping shorts with the pockets and loops that could hold all kinds of cool stuff.

  3. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Bud – why was the king of Norway at a Jamboree?
    I never made it out of Brownies. I was a painfully shy little girl, and enrolling me in Girl Scouts was my mom’s futile attempt to “socialize” me. Poor Mom.
    Well, Ian, your Jamboree days are long gone. You will probably be starting your Gymboree days soon! Something entirely different!

  4. kevin

    Ian, i bagged after Webelos too. After winning the local pinewood derby and getting my picture in the local paper, i decided enough was enough.
    I was adored by a few girls for a few days and the sheen of fame wore quickly away. I got bored.

  5. Just Andrew

    I didn’t last long in the scouts. Went to 2 campouts and they attributed the forest fire and the corn field fire to me (they weren’t totally my fault, really) and suggested that maybe scouts wasn’t for me. I agreed.

  6. emma

    My mom was a troop leader for my oldest sister and then, by the time I came along (the youngest of five), I think she hid the fact that the girl scouts even existed. I didn’t even know that I had the option to join.

  7. eric g.

    Ian, I too, quit after Webelos, but it was because our Boy Scout leader left town under a cloud of molestation-related suspicion after the organizational meeting. I remember going to Cub Scout camp in a 105-degree hellhole called Danville, Virginia, one summer. We were all issued these blue camp t-shirts that were made out of a non-breathable gauzy material that smelled just like petroleum. During a nature hike, woozy from the combination of stifling heat and the fact that I was wearing a gallon of 87 octane unleaded disguised as a t-shirt, I walked right into a tree and knocked myself out cold. I came to in an icy, air-conditioned first aid tent with a cold compress applied by a wonderful-smelling nurse. This made the “there’s the guy who walked into a tree” comments that I heard for the rest of the week well worth it.

  8. Joe C.

    Four neocon homophobic Boy Scout leaders died at a BoyScout/Bush event. Not sure if we should be sad or happy.

  9. Joanna

    My parents missed the whole “uniformity” aspect of uniforms. They had me wear my sister’s hand-me-down Brownie uniform a year after the uniform style changed. So my entire troupe wore one style and I, another. I was a Brownie drop-out before the year’s end!

  10. Tim

    That post made me cry with laughter. Brought back some painful memories of my Den Mother (I was a Boy Scout for about three months) who ran the meetings like Deniro’s Al Capone in “The Untouchables”. Also, I meant to comment on your entry from yesterday—what a great picture and beautiful child. Lucy, what a girl, what a night, what a crowd!

  11. michelle

    I loved being a girl scout. My first positive adult feelings- responsibility, capability, leadership- were first experienced in Girl Scouts. My troupe leaders were a pair of amazing old lesbians who were funny, smart, and told great stories. I broke all the records for selling cookies, but that was partly because Sean ate so many of them.
    And Joe C., really, not to point out the obvious, but do we KNOW for sure that the scout leaders who died were “neocon homophobics”? This is a terrible tragedy, and, well, speaking as someone against the death penalty, even if they were terrible people, even if they were murderers or molesters or something far more awful than belonging to a homophobic organization, I wouldn’t relish in their death. Blanket statments such as these are the tools of the dark side, not of the enlightened side.

  12. Ian

    Michelle – and everyone else – I spend enought time deleting spam, so I can’t always delete Joe C., but please, in the meantime, just ignore him. I’m pretty sure he’s a conservative troll that is doing this just to make his friends giggle at the lefties.

  13. Matt

    We don’t need Joe C for that, Ian. I’m sure it’s comforting to believe that Joe C is actually a conservative in disguise, but the fact is that he’s more indicative of modern leftist thought than you’d like to believe.
    Were the S.F. antiwar marchers carrying a banner reading “We support our troops… when they frag their officers” undercover conservatives? Are all the people making Bush/XXXler comparisons undercover conservatives? Are the raving lunatics at the Democratic Underground undercover conservatives? Michael Moore, Cynthia McKinney, Gore Vidal, Barbara Lee, Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich; all conservative operatives designing to make the left look silly? If so, they’re doing a pretty good job.
    The right has its Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyes’s, but they’re pikers compared to the above-mentioned folk.

  14. lee

    i wanted to be a cub scout because being a brownie sucked. i snuck into my cousin’s room one day while he was at school and put on his cub scout uniform and he caught me and beat me up.
    so i went back to brownies. and that stupid beanie.

  15. badbob

    Over 85% of all Naval Academy graduates were Eagle Scouts- similar stats for the point and AF Acad..
    Think about it Joe C. Have you got anything to add you ignorant slut?


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