Weebles or Webelos?

            That is about one of the stupidest titles I have yet to come up with, but since the tale reaches way back to the land before both Comstock and even Jolly Old Joe’s, I thought something childish was apt. Who are we kidding, it is apt either way. In the great tradition of Thies I thought I would share a story that goes back to the misty days before we all knew each other in order to regale you with my stunning prowess as an outdoor man.

            As expected of all the hearty young men of my age, I was thrust into the social activity of Cub Scouts from the moment it became an option in what, third grade or something. I already resented the forced application of “friendship” based on some activity we were all told we would enjoy, but Scouts was less heinous than most as many of my real friends also happened to be members, such as Jeff  and Dave, as well as a smattering of others such as Schultz who dogged my footsteps even back then. I drew the line at Little League which no amount of coaxing could force me into; I in my Calvin-esque preference to play by myself with imaginary creatures or sit reading voluntarily in the confines of a large rabbit cage I dragged into my parent’s backyard. I digress.

            Scouting is a grand tradition based on the Spartan notion of introducing military structure into children’s lives as early as possible, though admittedly in a real fluffy kind of way. Case in point, as lowly Bobcats at the bottom of the totem pole hardship duty was more confined to making shit out of popsicle sticks or peanut butter rather than being woken at 4 to haul ass somewhere to scrub toilets. We worked hard up through the ranks of Wolf and Bear; even though I would have preferred to stop advancement at Wolf the bastards promoted me anyway to new heights of responsibilities. We wore the blue with pride along with our little yellow scarves and all that. Some were more highly decorated than others, having mastered such crafts as applying Elmer’s glue or racing little wooden cars, but things even out and by the 5th grade we all made Mighty Webelo, which is Indian for something like, “little white bastards adopt the ways of our people in a real half assed manner”. That might not be verbatim.

            Being a Webelo was a pretty big deal. We got a different color scarf, were undisputedly the oldest cubs (except that idiot who still couldn’t glue) and got to go on the fabled winter campout in Alleghany with the Boy scouts who were anxious to see who might be tapped to come up into the big leagues. We trained for months and when January hit every one of us could identify the correct color snow not to eat, make up to three semi-obscene shadow puppets with out flashlights, and stir a whole 5 gallon jug of bug juice using nothing but one’s filthy hand.

            On the Webelo side of things, it came down to Jeff, Dave, Pete, Mike S, Keith “Do-Bee”, and me. We were almost matched in number by parents; my father, Mike S’s, Pete’s, and Jeff’s dads all electing to come along as well. Our fearless and reckless natures were well known and documented, so every effort was made to keep the ratio low. On the Boy Scout side of things it was a host of assholes from the St Andrew’s troop, many of whom we didn’t know. Word on the street was that we could expect them to come at us the first night and probably not let up till dawn. It was all right though; most of us had been fighting Charlie for years now, albeit in neighborhood level finger gun kinda way, but we expected no surprises.

            Before we even got in the cars, we got the riot act. Standard stuff really – no knives, no other weapons, especially no knives, stay out of the dad’s beer and liquor, and yes, no knives. On the way down in the Scuto car Keith was trying to surreptitiously put his knife away after flashing it around the car at the other frightened campers (the boy wadn’t right) and managed to slice his hand open good and smear blood all over the Scuto back seat. Mike’s father was apparently very unhappy and despite a powerful desire to leave Keith by the side of the road, managed to bandage up our first casualty and confiscate the knife.

            We arrived well after dark, the first incidence in what I would find to be a grand scouting tradition. Always arrive at night when maximum chaos will introduce every impedance possible to make set up a shitty experience and guarantee the remainder of the trip will be conducted under the guidance of overtired young minds. Though the intrepid young Webelos would have preferred a tent or even lean-to, the father opted for the fully loaded cabin with electricity option. Wusses. After getting us settled in, they disappeared off to caucus in the Boy Scout fathers cabin where popular rumor had it that the fruits of Dionysus flowed freely and the steaks were the size of toilet seats. Left to out own devices, we munched raw hotdogs and engaged in the traditional activity of young boys left on their own; pummeling each other until someone got hurt.

            Jeff was the first to spot them having retired to his cot after being Dutch rubbed by Pete and bit by Keith despite the impressive defense applied by Dave and myself. Masked faces flitted by the window. They had come and we were unprepared having distracted our defenses in the attempt to impose ‘Lord of the Flies’ style order.

 

“Is it locked? Is the door locked?!”

 

            It hadn’t of course; the council of fathers had forbidden it under the concern that they would be forced to deal with the inconvenience in a heavily inebriated condition. Jeff screamed in terror as three large figures, suspected by some to be the very same escaped convicts invented in a tale of terror but an hour before, and by some to be the first wave of the Boy Scouts. The raiding party was small; probably an advance unit dispatched to probe our defenses and report back. We couldn’t have that; it just wouldn’t do.

            Pete and Keith were our muscle as both had been in more fights, often against each other, then any of us could count. They didn’t shy away. Pete was big enough to engage one on his own while Keith tackled the second with Mike’s help. They took a combative approach, Pete with a thumping style and Keith fighting dirty. Keith then pulled the second knife he had apparently brought and it was enough to scare the first two off as everyone knew he was crazy enough to use it.

            Dave and I double teamed the third and managed to make a capture having wrestled him down on the bed and sitting on him.

 

“We got one! We got one!”

 

            We ripped off the rubber Boba Fett mask and as per expectations saw not the grizzled visage of a hardened and well ass pounded convict, but the fresh freckle face of one of the Guam boys. Our first inclination was to keep him hostage against further attacks, but Keith was getting itchy fingers with the knife. We consulted our knowledge of the Geneva Convention but found it wanting. Between Keith’s torturous desires and Jeff being freaked out by the kids presence, not yet having ruled out in his own mind that the kid was not supernatural in nature or “the real Boba Fett”, we decided to let him go, keeping the mask as spoils of war.

            Furious debate erupted. Do we forget the faces of our fathers and bar the door against the inevitable reprisal or face what may come? In the distance we could hear the shrieks of rage as the war party assembled in response to the affront we incurred against the Guam kid. Jeff, conflicted about disobedience was moved to suddenly fly to the door and lock it secure. It wasn’t a moment too soon as the handle jiggled furiously as he bolted to the back door to perform the same action, even as the raiders moved around the outside for the same objective. Secure! The masked figures made a clamorous din of banging and howling, but we would not budge. Well, except for Keith who had his knife out and wished to let them in. Jeff huddled beneath his cot and begged us to find a way to make them stop.

 

“We’re not letting you guys in.”

 

“You will, and we’re gonna pound ya!!”

 

“What? That doesn’t sound like a good idea at all! We’ll stay put. Thanks.”

 

            They were forced to admit that were the circumstances reversed, they would probably not let in a bloodthirsty party of goons who seemed effectively stymied. It finally became a matter of psychological torture against Jeff, who was almost convinced to actually let them in rather than listen to the din of their enraged pounding. Finally, to save poor Jeff we negotiated a truce whereby we would return the captured mask through the window if they would go away and not return the following night. They capitulated and thus ended the great battle of opening night. Not quite ‘300’ but come on, we were in 5th grade.

            The next morning after a breakfast of cold cereal the boys decided to try to conquer the hill right outside the cabin door while the dads lazed about nursing hangovers. Upon reaching the summit, some 90 feet up or so, a rousing game of ‘king of the hill’ erupted. Actually rather than it being a game per se, it instead was a concentrated effort of Pete to throw Keith and Jeff off the hill for kicks and the rest of us joining in. We were about to have our second casualty. Jeff, taking a loose shove from one of us responded by barreling down the hill at breakneck speed, screaming the whole way with his arms flopping helplessly behind him. He would have gone right off the edge of the precipice had the cabin not been there to stop him. BOOM! He hit the side full force, bounced back a little, then collapsed in a heap.

 

“What the hell was that?” the hung over dad’s asked from the doorway.

 

“Jeff…uh… slipped and hit the side of the cabin.”

 

            Jeff’s father rushed out, picked up the semi-unconscious lad and ushered him inside for some hot cocoa while the rest of us continued our game. Jeff rejoined us after about a half hour, and wouldn’t you know it, on his very first foray up he went ahead and did the same damn thing. We were thus banned from the hill for the rest of the morning for not being able to play nice and not chuck Jeff into the side of the cabin. Completely unfair!

            The fun of throwing people down a huge mound of earth ruined, we decided to make like a shepherd and get the flock out of there to less supervised territory. It was time to play explorer as it was our impression that in all likelihood the wilderness 100 feet from the cabin and beyond was virgin territory never tread by human feet except perhaps for some itinerant Cree or other indigenous tribe. I chose to play Pissarro, as in my mind he was inexorably linked to Legion of Doom superstar Bizzaro and thereby the most insanely powerful of the old time Conquistadors. Before you get all PC and insist on pointing out that the Conquistadors were hardly role models, bear in mind we were in 5th grade and the little details like the genocidal massacre of every thriving society in the Western hemisphere had not yet appeared in our social studies books.

            Roaring through the underbrush after less faux Kryptonian Spaniards, I became the next man down. As my eyes had been focused far on the back of Dave’s jacket, I completely missed the big pricker bush in front of me and rammed my face deep into it and cut the cornea of my eye in the process. People like to use phases like “the pain exploded” and whatnot, and I like that so I’m going to do the same thing. The pain exploded in the front of my face and I feel into the wet slushy snow. Dave and Pete took the task of guiding me back to the cabin after I spend a good half hour blinded and yelling on the side of the hill. My problem was that when I opened the unaffected eye, the cut eye would erupt in pain. I learned this lesson two years previous when blinded for the good half of the summer by yellow caterpillar fur; a tale for another day.

            Using my caterpillar-fur-in-the-eye expertise, I was determined not to let the happening ruin my day and the promised fun that lay ahead. I would do everything blind. Hell if Bazooka Joe could get by and have zany adventures with one peeper, who was I to bow down to the pain of fate? Screw that little bubblegum dork! I would not back down. The next activity sledding; this didn’t pose so much a challenge going down as trying to blindly dodge the oncoming sleds on the way back up the hillside. Once it became known that I was a sitting duck with the fast development of echolocation being my best chance for not getting creamed, the rest of the winter revelers took to aiming for me. I found a fast advantage in the ability to open the unaffected eye ever so slightly as to gauge the presence of an oncoming missile. Once came upon my so fast that all I could do was leap vertically and smash my boot square into the bombardier’s nose, bloodying it but good. Only the most foolhardy of sledders came for me after that.

            Next to be injured was Keith, or Do-Bee as we called him after the giant mascot on teen drama ‘Romper Room’. He was as careless a sledder as he was a knifeman and managed to flip his toboggan into the only exposed rock on the entire hillside and gash open the side of his face. At the sight of yet more blood the Counsel of Dad’s voted to shut down the activity all together knowing full well that the following day they would be on the hook to explain each tiny little boo-boo to over concerned mothers. Whoever thought it was a good idea to take pre-pubescent rowdy youngsters with imaginations in overdrive and no common sense into the woods in wintertime was cursing himself by that point and the worse had yet to come.

            After patching up Do-Bee, it was decided that a nice safe, boring nature walk would be the best way to finish out the day. This of course sucked for me because who wants to be led around blind to “look” at nature. I was forced into the march anyway and in the end was happy I did in order to bear auditory witness to the debacle that was to come. A difference of opinion immediately broke out in the hiking party. The Counsel of Dad’s was under the impression that such a walk was for the purpose of experiencing and appreciating nature. For the more junior set, however, it was clear and evident that the purpose was to seek out and destroy as much nature as possible. Like a shaggy horde of Huns armed with ‘walking sticks’, we fanned out beating the underbrush, decapitating helpless ferns, and ripping up and absconding with countless fossil rocks that had lay undisturbed for countless millions of years before us.

            Finally exasperated by our aggressive tactics toward Mother Nature, we were turned back by the weary elders to prepare for dinner. Someone noted that the cabin could be reached in a fraction of the time by ascending the near vertical escarpment of 100 feet or so. It seemed like a good idea at the time and we started up the pass of least resistance. I was being shoved up by various people from time to time, and nearing the top I was lucky enough to have the Guam boy’s father taking responsibility. Suddenly he pushed me into a tree and bade me in a panicked voice to hang on. Behind me I could hear calamity! It as if an avalanche was in process and screams of the doomed wafted up from Hades to torment me. Moments later, silence, eerie and complete.

            I had no idea what happened and was stranded holding on to dear life to a tree as my ears strained for the sounds of human existence. I considered that the Rapture might have occurred and instantly became angry that those sons of bitches would be swept up into the heavens over me and vowed to seek revenge if that was the case. I’d learn ‘em what a real Anti-Christ was about! Then my father, panting just a bit, asked if I was all right and helped me up the last few feet to the edge behind the cabin. I found only him; I; Mr Scuto and the irascible Dave Walsh managed to make it to the top unscathed.

            What had happened was that Mr. Guam lost his footing seconds after having me grab that tree and proceeded to fall cartoon style creating a giant tumbling ball of dust, snow, body parts, exclamatory characters, as well as some little lightning bolts and pain lines thrown in. Andy Capp and the Missus times ten! The disaster managed to suck everyone in its path in but for the lucky 3 who managed to dodge the bullet. Creaking one eye open  I could look down and see the prone little figures slowly begin to rise and shake themselves like beaten dogs. By virtue of his fleet feet, Dave managed to be the only one of the younger set then to escape injury that trip; an omen of more serious things to come.

            Rather than risk the peril of more falling Guam’s and whatnot, Mr Scuto shuttled the survivors back up in his minivan by driving down and around to the base of the hill. A day later, bedraggled, bandaged and liking our wounds we drove back to Buffalo to recuperate and watch our fathers catch hell for the egregious lack of protection provided our fragile young selves. Of the group, only I went on to become a full fledged Boy Scout, though wasn’t enough of a wienie to make it all the way to Eagle.

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4 Responses

  1. I should post my story of the couple Webelo camp outs, one which included two teams of youths; one atop a 50 foot hill and the other team at the bottom. The game of hurdling rocks at full force towards each other ended when one Webelo was pegged in the teeth. Such was the folly of being on the team at the base of the hill, and not keeping under cover.

    Again, Mike ignores the #2 rule of the blog (#1 being at least 24 hours between posts) and uses full real names. You have obviously learned nothing from the history this blog has had (some items are not privy to the reader, and only discussed in the moldy Comstock blog basement).

    You lacked the discipline, devotion, and heart to make it to the triumphant pinnacle of Scout-hood, the Eagle Scout. Contrary to the popular adage; not only is it not lonely at the top, but it is exhilarating – laughing all the while at the buffoons tumbling down below.

  2. I look forward to seeing your story, though fret over the prospect of trying to fit one of mine into the forest of yours and the others with the 24 hour rule.

    In this case I felt OK using the real names since I don’t feel I have had anything offensive to say about any of them. Let’s face it, closing the barn door now after the entire rest of the structure burned down and fell into hell is laughable. At this point I feel amost obligated to piss off everyone I ever used to know just so no one feels left out. I can apologize later on Facebook and say it was all just jokes.

    As for your last comment… yeah, I dated in high school K.D.

  3. It is not just this lone post, but if someone finds a full name anywhere on this blog they may assume this refers to any other post.

    As you for your last comment, what the hell does that mean?

  4. …. Dammit! I hate when you have a good point! I’ll edit the names out.

    The last comment was a crack at the pic of you I usurped for my Facebook profile last week. I think it was Anna, who comments here often, who mistook it for a picture of KD Lang. Classic!

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