Friday, April 6, 2012

B.S. of America

(Originally posted September 21, 2007; this was my first impression of Scouts, before we found a more welcoming Troop.)

I don't remember whether I talked about this before... I don't read these things, after all... but tonight was the night. My first-ever Boy Scout meeting.

Alright, technically it was Cub Scouts, but it's for the boys: one Tiger, and one Bear. But it was a first for all three of us. Except that it all seemed so very, very familiar somehow.

When I was in the third grade, my dad tried to get us involved in the Royal Ambassadors. That's the "Royal Ambassadors of Christ", by the way... the Southern Baptist Convention's version of Boy Scouts. We went to a few meetings at our church (which were like Sunday School, only on Wednesday night), and one camping event. One. Some moron kept us up all night screaming along to "Father Abraham", and I was so exhausted that when I fell asleep, I wet my sleeping bag.

That tinge of Sunday School and psycho camp leaders, crossed with the psychological scarring left over from Air Force Basic Training -- and I know I've blogged about THAT before -- is what I've been dreading ever since July, when Kater finally prevailed upon me to sign the boys up. She wore me down; convinced me that it wouldn't be like the R.A.'s. That it wouldn't be like Girl Scouts, with the cookie sales and screaming girls. It is a lot more expensive than Girl Scouts, though, because the patches and awards come out of the dues. Fine. I would rather pay dues than do fund raisers.

Speaking of raising money, guess what we got to talk about first at our first ever meeting: that's right. Specifically, we got the half hour sales lecture about how to sell popcorn. I guess cookies are too sissy.

It was the usual fundraising snow job you've seen if you have elementary school kids. They passed out the traditional glossy sheets with "fine, high-quality" prizes pictured next to perfectly reasonable goals. (Sell 10 units, take home a talking light-up wristwatch... just like the one worn by Duran Duran vocalists on the reunion tour!)

But, it is all for a good cause. After all, the money is used to fund our camping trip. Where we get to do fun things like the morning flag raising, the evening vespers, and - if we're lucky - one of the priests will come along and have a mass on Saturday night!

Wait a holy minute there... what the fuck? I'm shilling popcorn so I can earn cheap trinkets and the chance to go out in the woods to worship fucking GOD with an alleged non-pedophile? My first meeting, and I already have to suffer through 30 minutes of live "paid TV", complete with screaming audience, not to mention a 15 minute sermon about earning a religion badge, and all so we can pay to go have church time in a forest?

Oh... oh, calm down... it's nonsectarian. They only require that you have "a" faith. They welcome all Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Ba'hai.... wait a minute. No "Pastafarians"? No room for di-agnostics? (FYI, that means I don't know if there's a god or two... but I can tell you what's wrong with your religion.)

I can hear the song and smell the urine as I write this.

Don't worry. I kept my mouth shut in the meeting. They didn't make me pray. They didn't make me swear fealty to any great mythical Beings. But they did slip in a few snide remarks about how "The Boy Scouts is one of the FEW organizations that still think getting closer to God is important." And somehow, that really wound me up. Are they completely clueless? Are they victims of Bill O'Reilly's fake "War on Christmas" conspiracy? Have they not heard about this George Bush guy that's moved into the White House? Honestly.

But the part that burns me up is that I feel like I have to do this. My boys see all the "fun" that the Girl Scouts get to have (I personally would rather have all of my soft tissues abraded with a lemon peeler than have the kind of fun that they have at Girl Scouts, but I guess we're all different), and they want to go camping and do the pinewood racecars and all that good stuff. They want to bond with me, and I want to bond with them. I want to give my boys something special, and make them feel like we are doing something together.

I just can't help thinking, if I wanted to shill crap door to door and go pray in the forest... I'd have become a Mormon Amway salesman.

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