I Never Was A Boy Scout

(I am conflating some things, changing names and stuff like that.  But I am telling the truth.  What happened actually happened.  I imagine it was/is rather common.)

This is no deep dark secret, though it was never anything that we discussed around the supper table with the kids and Gramma, and I never told Mom and Dad.

Donnie’s mother was Den Mother for about five or six of us who were in a little Scout Troop in our neighborhood.  I attended one meeting at her house, ate a few cookies, got a handbook and learned how to make a paste out of water and flour; a skill which has saved my life and the lives of everyone I know on innumerable occasions.  It is probably the only life-saving skill I have.  I may have been ten years old.

Why did I never go back?  Why did my career end before it had never started?  The truth is that I am lazy.  I looked down the corridor of years and saw how long it would take to become an Eagle; to reach the summit of Scoutlife and soar and said, “Nah, not for me.”  As a result I never have been good sitting Indian style, or at paying attention at meetings and starting fires with moss and flint.  I guess I never really wanted to be, though I do admire the Natty Bumppo’s of the world.

Ronny was different.  He stayed in, and got good at all that stuff, and had a sash that got progressively more busy with badges and ribbons as we got older.  We hung out, all of us, scouts and non-scouts.  It was an egalitarian society of boys, and the odd girl in dungarees as jeans were known back then before “denim” and “jeans” entered the language.  As long as they could run as fast as the rest of us, what the hell?  I never gave them a second thought.

Oh, there were one or two who were different.  They were “Girls”, and wore dresses, and made mud pies, and jumped rope and giggled.  We chased them away.  The ones in dungarees came and went, occasionally wrestled when we played “pile on” or had free for alls, and played in the outfield when we played ball, and stood up on the swings at the playground when the “parkie” wasn’t there to enforce the rules against standing up on the swings at the playground (as senseless a rule as there ever was).

And life went on, and we got older.  Even Ronny, who was there, but he wasn’t if you know what I mean, got older.  He didn’t fit right, and we always felt a little strange, and he always acted a little strange when he was around on the ever more rare occasion.  Other than that he was a normal guy.  Tall, with straight black hair, no pimples, slim, athletic looking, he could have been a model for one of those Greek statues one sees in all the best museums.  Did I mention he had a clear complexion?  He was quiet, and a bit awkward.  I remember that the guy couldn’t tell a joke and couldn’t make a wisecrack that landed with effect on its target.  He was a good looking goof.  No one really missed him, but we all waved at him and opened up our little circle when he showed up on these fewer and fewer occasions.

Soon enough we had discovered girls.  It was difficult at first fitting them into our busy schedule of ball games and rough house, but we managed.  We were all sophomores; those of us still in school thought less and less about that (small loss) and more an more about them.

There was a bar on the corner, The Kingsbridge Tavern, run by a little Italian guy named Angie.  He may have had another name, but if he did I have long forgotten it.  Betimes we noticed it and entered its hallowed precincts, became initiates in its rites.  I mean to say that we cut our milk teeth on drinking at Angie’s.  I did homework at the bar, and had fights outside of it, some of them with people I never knew.  I often collected The Old Man and brought him home from Angie’s loving care, becoming, then, a sort of father to my Father.  That was not so unusual in my neighborhood.

Late one night (or early one morning) at about this time of the year, I was in Angie’s.  Only a few folks were there and the place was quiet.  Ronny walked in and we said hello.  He sat next to me and we “exchanged pleasantries” as a fellow from New Jersey often put it.  Ronny had joined the Air Force and must have been home on leave.  Or, maybe he was on his way to Basic.  It doesn’t signify.

We kept our seats and exchanged our pleasantries until Angie poured our last beer.  Then Ronny suggested we grab a six pack and go across the street to finish the evening under what stars remained.  I was then and am still a “dirty stay up”, and he was paying.  So, it was the best idea ever, and I joined him.

We drank one or two beers as we sat watching the sky lighten behind the buildings on Kingsbridge Hill.  And we solved some world problems.  Then, I turned to Ronny and made my excuses.  And then, he laid a hand on my arm and made me an offer.

“Nah,” I said, “I ain’t built that way.”  “Oh,” he answered, “Sorry.”  He was polite, an Eagle Scout I think.  I never saw him again.

A month or so after that night, when I had “sailed away for a year and a day to the land where the bong trees grow”, one of my shipmates told me rather crudely that the Chief Steward, whom I had thought was a friend, wanted to do to me what Ronny had wanted to do.  On this occasion I found a fire ax and sought the fellow out  but was prevented from doing him what I thought was a service to all by cooler heads.

He was a good cook.  But I never knew if he was a Scout.

There have been other occasions, but none recently.  I stay away from Scouts, and will lengthen my distance.



4 responses to “I Never Was A Boy Scout

  1. There have been “gay boys” in the Boy Scouts since the very first Troop was formed by Gen Baden Powell. Back in those days though the boys stayed in the closet, and effectively an early form of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was practiced.

  2. Same with the US Army. We had a detachment NCO everyone knew was homosexual, but he didn’t advertise the fact, and he was a good NCO, so nobody bothered with it. An early practice of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A lot of commanders in the Army felt that way. On the other hand, I knew a fellow in basic training who was going to join an Army band, but decided the Army wasn’t for him so he announced he was gay. Probably was. I really don’t know. But it worked. He was discharged pronto and I have no idea what he did with his life after that.
    As for me, I stayed in for a while, then joined the Idaho Army National Guard and ended up going to two wars and retiring as a captain. In my military career I have known several “gays.” Only once was I ever invited to join the frivolities (so to speak), but declined for, I suspect, much the same reasons that Peter did.
    If they (the homosexual men) were serious about their work, nobody cared enough to hassle them, because a good soldier is a godsend to most situations. But If they wanted attention more than they wanted to be a soldier, they inevitably ran afoul of regulations and were discharged. Until Obama, that is.
    I suppose most of us have an inclination to be a sinner in one situation or another. Often it is some sort of sexual deprivation, be it homosexual, heterosexual or whatever. Often it involves drugs and/or alcohol. Sometimes it is just plain old lying, cheating, or other associated sins. Whether we “act out” any of these inclinations, according to most Christian thought, is what finally determines us as a sinner, especially if we persist in such behavior. But it is NOT simply our “inclinations,” “temptations” or whatever else you want to call it. Such is part of being a human being – a shared heritage if you will.
    Accordingly, I have a lot of patience for anyone who is inclined to sin in about any fashion. We all have our moments where something unbecoming turns our head, whatever it is. And I even have patience and sorrow for those that give in a bit and are caught up in some practice they should have left alone. Forgive them, Jesus said, for they “know not what they do.”
    But I have lived long enough to know that a man who loves to fight too much ends up in jail for good reasons usually. And that a man who drinks too much ends up a drunk and drives anyway. Any man who habitually relies on lying and cheating has to lie and cheat more and more just to keep up until it all comes down around him. People caught up in sexual sins of any nature face a similar fate. If you hang out with these folks then what goes around comes around. I can’t afford that.
    When you must pretend that evil is good, you’ve pretty much lost the battle. I’ll stand aside for you to pass. I’ll return your friendly smile and wave, but I’ll stand aside just the same. Can’t afford not to. I have enough of my own troubles.
    Thanks for a thoughtful piece, Peter.

  3. progressiverebel

    When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in Apollo 11 he famously said, “The Eagle has landed”, The US Eagle of course and …… Neil Armstrong the Eagle Scout of The Boy Scouts of America. President Gerald Ford was an Eagle Scout and never betrayed our Trust. My two sons are Eagle Scouts and I have been proud to say they are Eagle Scouts. I am sorry that a Perverted Human being, “Predated’ on you. Scouting is a frame of mind. The “I’ll try sir, when asked to storm the Wall in Peiking or lead the men over the top in the attack. Scouting is about morals and learning. Perverts see sex everywhere and the Scouts have wanted nothing to do with it. That’s always been the Scout position. I have met and worked with homosexuals and I don’t care what they do. Just keep them away from the kids. Freemen stand and freeman fall, American Strong…

  4. Dirait on…

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