Boy Scouts answer the call of nature
By Dorothy Wilson ‘The Marion Mom’
The Boy Scouts lured me in.
“Drop off your kids!” they said.
“Five dollars a month!”
“No homework!” they said.
Don’t get me wrong — I actually have enjoyed our two-month stint in the group, so much so that I went all in and purchased full scout uniforms for all three boys from the Boy Scouts of America Store in Memphis.
I Google-Mapped it, which explains why I was stuck staring at a fence around the back of the building from a dead-end road.
I bet Google bets on how many fools like myself follow their obtuse suggested routes to the bitter end.
So after rounding the block (how hard would that have been, Google?), all six kids unloaded a little rambunctiously. A pockmarked teenaged boy with a screeching voice politely asked to help us.
“I need three uniforms,” I said.
Then, he exploded into a game of Stump the Customer: “What troop are they in? What pack are they in? What type of scout are they?”
“Uh… I think they’re Boy Scouts. Pretty sure they’re not Girl Scouts.”
He did not find that funny.
But he did dumb down his questions for me, requesting merely their grade and my zip code.
You know, we could have started there.
It turns out, they are not, in fact, “Boy Scouts” until seventh grade. I had a “Webelo” and two “Wolf Cubs.”
They loaded me up with shirts, pants, socks, hats, neck scarves, slides, belts, and patches.
“Do I have to sew these on?” I complained. Between the three uniforms, I had to attach 18 patches and hem three pairs of pants. In one day. Yay, procrastination.
“They aren’t iron-on.
Sorry,” he said, in that annoying way that makes you think he wasn’t really sorry at all.
Of course they aren’t.
Probably designed by a man.
I swiped my credit card to the tune of “Gasp” and carted my kids back home, only to discover we had left behind an entire bag of paraphernalia.
Well, after a second trip to the store (no U-turns-take that Google Maps!) and hours of patch placement and hemming, I presented three very handsome scouts at the den meeting.
Of course, by the time their names were called for awards (ack! more patches!), their wrinkled shirts dangled untidily and their caps cocked sideways.
If only they sold an instant-presentable button at the store. That would be worth its weight in gold.
That same week, I loaded my kids into the van to cart them to their various religious activities throughout town.
I simultaneously heard the dreaded clicking of a dead battery and the howl of an injured child.
I was not discouraged, though, because, like a good Boy Scout, I was prepared.
I shot inside to acquire a Band-aid and my portable charging station.
While the Band-aid did its job nicely, and the howler fully recovered, the charger had been left in the “on” position and was also drained.
Sometimes I think God is laughing at me. Not with me. At me.
My father, who is always so prepared he can outsmart that Cosmic Jokester, jumped off the van.
Ten minutes later, so did a policeman.
Shortly thereafter, so did a stranger.
When I finally made it home, I discovered that one of my kids had doused my laptop in lemonade.
All in the span of two hours.
SMH. In all caps.
The Boy Scouts can start a campfire with dryer lint and toilet paper rolls, but they ain’t got nothing for a fried motherboard.
They do have camping, though. The scouts invited the families to a camp out last weekend. I actually found myself excited to be under the tutelage of the camping cognoscenti, packing warm pajamas, sleeping bags, and toboggans to fight the frosty night air.
If only I knew what was to come.
For starters, we tried to set up our tent without poles.
That’s right, we forgot poles. So I drove home to retrieve them while the rest of the family scouted. (I did not use Google Maps.) Next, they fed us chili dogs.
I generally like chili. But I do not like the after-effects of eight chilified digestive systems disappating into the stale air of a cramped tent all night long.
Then, there’s the fire ban.
Forty degrees, and no fire.
Really? No warmth, no roasted marshmallows, no s’mores. Because the Cosmic Jokester decided to drought the land just in time for the occasion.
Finally, no one slept that night. In addition to Jack Frost and his little buddy, Dusty Arid, the night sounds stirred us from our slumber constantly. Seriously, is it possible to sleep less?
We had the hooting owl, the chirping crickets, a neighborhood dog chase involving at least one coyote, some kind of bullfrog on steroids croaking like a pack-a-day smoker, and the rare “Uncle Justin” bird.
Have you heard it? A nocturnal creature, it awakens to a dark tent that has been abandoned by its caretaker. So it hollers out its distinct call: “Uncle Justin? Uncle Justin?”
Flummoxed, the distressed animal exits its habitat and wanders through worn paths continuing its forlorn cry.
“Uncle Justin? Uncle Justin?”
Oh. My. Word. Uncle Justin, where the heck are you?!
The Webelos fugleman reunited the lost little critter with its owner, and we slept happily ever after.
By “ever after,” I mean for ten minutes until the dogs started barking.
The next morning, my friend shows me a fine specimen of an arachnid she just killed inside her sleeping quarters.
“Is this a brown recluse?”
Google says yes. Yes, it is a deadly, poisonous spider roaming around your tent while you slept.
You know, life goes on.
As long as life goes on, I’ll be sure to report it.
Even when someone spills lemonade on my laptop.
Dorothy Wilson lives in Marion with her husband Chris as they enjoy all the adventures life with their seven children provides.
Her columns appear monthly in the Marion Ledger, with reprints, like this one from October 2016, appearing in the online edition of the Evening Times.