When I was around 8 – 11 I was in Boy Scouts. I don’t remember quite how I became a member or what made me want to join but I do know that it was not one of my favorite things in life. There are 4 levels of Scouts for those who don’t know (at least that’s how it was then). Cub, Webelos, Boy and then Eagle Scouts. I started in Cub Scouts and we met at one of the other Cub’s house (Mike). Mike’s Mom was the “Den Mother”. I’d like to say that we all sat around and learned how to become men but the truth is we just got together and ran around his basement like sugar infused fools. Once in a while we would review the manual and talk about things we could do to get patches for our uniforms. One of these things was to try and make a bow and arrow out of a stick that we had to cut ourselves. Anyone see where this is going??
So Bruce (my step-father) gives me a small knife and tells me to go into the woods and cut a small tree. Sensing that I had no idea what to do or how to handle a knife at 8 years old he followed me to the back of our apartments to where the woods were. I found a skinny little tree and decided it was to be my bow. I bent the tree over to expose a nice smooth area that I could easily cut into. I held it with my left hand and had the knife in my right. Bruce told me to make sure I cut down and not up. So picture me bending this thin little trunk in half so that my left hand is now lower that the cut spot that I planned to chop with my little pocket knife, I remember “cut down not up” and proceed to put the knife on the tree. Of course it does not cut into it like a laser through the wood which was my expectation so I put all of my strength into it. Of course I had to do it by the book and instead of picking up a stick on the ground, I try to cut through a live tree. I’m 39 now and couldn’t cut through a live tree with a pocket knife! Even if it was only an inch thick. So the inevitable happens – the knife slides right off of the trunk and right onto my left index finger. It cut me pretty wide and deep and it was bleeding like crazy. It was squirting all over the tree, my clothes, everywhere like a B movie horror scene. I dropped the knife and Bruce yells “Jesus Christ I told you not to do that”! Well no, technically you told me not to cut upwards – I did what you said and look at me now! Of course that part was all in my head and didn’t come out of my mouth. All that really came out were my wails of pain. To this day I still have that scar to show me how great of a Cub Scout I really was.
When I became a Webelo Scout (age 10/11), we went to spend one night at the campground for their jamboree. The older kids got to spend like the whole weekend there and it was definitely a big deal to them. You see the Scouts were like an eclectic group if you were still in and made it through Cub and Webelo ranks and were a full Boy or Eagle Scout. Most didn’t stay in that long but the ones that did were kind of catty for lack of a better term. They all acted like they knew everything and were on their high horse. Kind of like the way Jr. bowling is, if you were ever in a bowling league as a kid you know what I mean. All those snotty ass kids with their fancy arm brace and spin ball ranking on us who throw the ball straight (normal). Judgmental pricks. Anyway at the Jamboree it was raining, cold and windy and downright miserable. I figured I wasn’t about that life and promptly dropped out of Scouts shortly after that event considering the only reason I ever joined the Scouts in the first place was The Pinewood Derby!