I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 8: Stuck
It’s amazing what a year can do for an awkward boy. Twelve months after the canoeing incident, I was a whole new person. Literally. I’d gained about an inch in height and a good three to eleven inches on my waist. Yes, I had officially passed through the stage of chubby preteen and entered my next much more awesome stage, fat teenager.
But I was very cool despite that. I still rocked the jigsaw puzzles, I had a closet full of plaid flannel, and I now sported a trendy and perfect bowl-cut. The grease look was in, so I was now careful not to shower more than once every four or five days. I’m sure I smelled like a wet bear coming out of hibernation, but everyone else did, too, so nobody noticed. Except maybe our parents and the teachers at our junior high.
God bless junior high school teachers.
I’ve always thought that a junior high school teacher could create the world’s most popular blog simply by sharing the weirdness she sees going on every day. Middle school kids have to be the most awkward, most disgusting, and most lost human beings on the planet. Nobody looks back at junior high with fondness. Nobody looks back and says, “oh, I looked good with my face covered in giant white heads and those rosy splotches where I went to town on other giant white heads.” Nobody looks back and says, “I had all the right answers back then.” And nobody looks back and says, “I really miss my corduroy overalls that weren’t long enough to cover my socks. God, it was so sexy the way they hugged my crotch and left nothing to the imagination.” I’m telling you. Nobody says that. Not honestly.
What I do look at fondly is all the lessons I learned in that weird transitional stage between child and adult. I really believe more life-shaping lessons are learned between the ages of 11 and 22 than the rest of life put together. And, for some reason, Scout camps were where I learned a lot of those lessons.
A year after the nipple incident, I found myself once again standing at attention every morning, watching a flag be raised, hand to heart. One morning someone had attached a pair of poopy underwear to the flagpole and hoisted it before we got there. It was epic. And they weren’t mine, which was a big bonus.
There was a small lake outside of camp, and on the edge was a fifteen-foot tower that the Scouts would climb up one at a time. They’d grab onto a metal bar hooked to a wire, and zip line into the lake while dangling precariously. I’d done it successfully many times, but on one occasion I had wet hands and slipped as I leapt from the tower. I immediately fell fifteen feet straight down, and cut my foot open on a stick. My pride was hurt, but not as much as when my entire troop came up with a cheer for the cheer contest: 689! 689! Danny fell off the zip cord line! We won the contest.
And who am I kidding. I acted like I was offended, but I felt like a mini celebrity once again, having my name chanted to the entire camp like that.
I also was a master marksman at the shooting range. I only got yelled at twice that year for accidentally pointing my loaded rifle at another human being.
God bless Scout leaders.
After we were done with our activities for the day, my friends and I would sneak into the shooting range and go dig all the lead bullets out of the logs behind the targets. We’d carve out shapes in wood, melt the lead in tin cans, and mold ourselves fantastic pendants and tokens. When we were done, our hands were laced with lead, our clothes were laced with lead, and I’m pretty sure I used my teeth on several occasions to pull tiny slivers of wood out of the lead once it had hardened and cooled. How any of us had kids when we were older is beyond me.
Oh wait, my wife and I adopted because my sperm don’t work quite right. I am just now putting two and two together. And all these years I thought it was because I had nuked my testis with my laptop. Could I be infertile because I constantly gnawed on bullets as a Boy Scout? Hm.
Anyway, back to Boy Scout camp and all the fun to be had there…