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.