The following story took place a long time ago, during my 2nd grade year. Yep, way back in 1963. Here’s how it all went down . . .
We were sitting in class at Twin Elementary when our teacher told us that somebody wanted to talk to all the boys. In walked a guy, I can’t remember who, who proceeded to tell us all about the Cub Scouts. It sounded great. There would be hiking, camping, building model cars, all kinds of cool stuff to do. My buddies and I were all amped up. Couldn’t wait! All we had to do was go home and get the forms signed by our parents, which we couldn’t wait to do.
Of course, with my father there would be stipulations.
After I excitedly told him of the opportunity, he sat me down and we had a talk. Number 1, he thought the Cub Scouts would be a great idea. Number 2, he said there would be no quitting once I started. One full year would be completed, no excuses, end of discussion. Hell, that wasn’t a problem with me. I was stoked!
I couldn’t wait to get back to school to tell my buddies I was in, and it turns out they were too. It was gonna be fantastic.
We had our first meeting at the local church, the Cub Scout guy explained everything, and it all sounded great. Then he brought out the uniform. Hey, it was a little different with the little hat, scarf and knee socks, but what the hell, we’d all be wearing it so it’d be cool. I was ready to roll.
Not so fast Scout Boy.
Here’s what I heard from my friends when I got to school the next morning:
“No way I’m wearing that uniform, man.”
“That uniform looks stupid. I’m not wearing that thing.”
“Sounded good but I’m out. I quit.”
Wait. What? You’re quitting because of the uniform? After one meeting?
Turns out they were. My closest friends were out. The only other kid in my class who stayed in was a nerdy little kid named Quincy (name changed to project the nerdy).
Did I ask my Dad for a reprieve so I could stick with my buddies? I did not. I was dumb but not that dumb. A deal was a deal, man.
So, as it turned out every Tuesday Quincy and yours truly wore the uniform to school as required by the Scouts, and every Tuesday I was ridiculed, mocked, jeered, belittled and spat upon.*
*OK, nobody spit on me but it seemed like it at the time. It was 2nd grade hell I tell ya.
On a related note I’m pretty sure that was the year I learned to fight.
Anyway, at the next meeting we learned who our pack leaders would be, and it turned out mine was a new guy who had recently volunteered.
That man was my father.
Did he join because he knew I was going through a tough time? Did he know it would help me get through it if he was around?
Probably, but if it was true he never said a word.
Bottom line, pretty soon we were doing cool stuff like building and painting little cars to race down a ramp, constructing airplanes to fly, even going on all-night camping trips. It wasn’t long before my non-Scout friends wished their parents hadn’t let them quit, and in fact they joined up the next year. Hey, maybe it was how cool I looked in that uniform. Chicks dig uniforms, ya know.
All-in-all it was fun, and we did it all while learning about being leaders, being responsible and providing service to others.
But what I learned the most was to never, ever quit.