I am not sure how it happened. All I know is that I left the house with these instructions, "Do NOT come home as a Cub Scout Leader." The next thing I knew I was writing a check for not only my son's Cub Scout uniform but also for my new Pack Mother's uniform. My friend, Bobbie would be my assistant.
Remember how I used to complain? "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride?" Well, the part about being the bridesmaid changed dramatically after I had a child. Suddenly I was the Bride of everything. It must be that yellowbrick road on my back. Or maybe it's the doormat I wear around my neck that reads, "Please, wipe your feet before walking all over me."
I used to have a "Post It" note by my phone. It was given to me by my friend, Assistant Den Mother, Bobbie. On it she wrote, "If nominated, I will NOT accept; if elected, I will NOT serve." (Ulysess S. Grant) "Now," she said," I want you to put that by the phone and when anyone calls and asks you to do something, read that to them!" I think she, along with my family and other friends, was sick of me accepting all kinds of jobs and then griping about how much I had to do. I don't know what happens to me when someone asks me to do something. I guess I am flattered that someone thinks so "highly" of me or could it be that big target on my back that says SUCKER?
Anyway, I was the Pack Mother or Den Mother or whatever they were called. And I dutifully wore my yellow blouse neatly tucked into my A-line navy skirt to every meeting, and attended all the monthly Cub Mother meetings, decorated for the banquet, helped run the Pine Wood Derby and all the other things millions of mothers all over America do for their little boys. (BTW: Bobbie verified this story in church Sunday...before the service.)
Toward the end of my Head Den Mother tenure, we were asked to be counselors at Strong River Day Camp. Why, yes! Of course I would love to. (Remember my distaste for the heat.) I wasn't teaching then, so vacation days were very dear. Yes, oh, yes (please let me!) of course, I would be delighted to take one of my precious days and tramp about in the woods with sweaty little boys. There I go again...where is US Grant when you need him? I rode the UN-airconditioned bus to the camp with at least 400 campers. They smelled ok on the trip out to the camp, but let me tell you, the trip home was the longest two hours I've ever spent in my life. I was compressed in a seat near the middle of the bus and all I remember was screaming, "If you close that window one more time, I'm having the driver throw you off this bus, little boy!"
But I am ahead of myself. The bus ride home occurred AFTER the biggest scare of my life. It's a good thing I was in my thirties when this happened or I might not have lived to tell this tale. When we arrived at the camp, all 400 campers vacated the bus (along with our driver). I trudged up the hill and went from area to area trying to keep up with all the activities... at some point, I was asked where my lunches were? What? You mean every boys' lunch on my bus? You mean someone didn't have them in a cooler somewhere? "No", said the camp director, "they should be in a giant black garbage bag on the bus." Lovely. It was 104 in the shade. Those lunches were probably ruined. (But what's a little food poisoning between friends?) "Would I go get them?" Oh, certainly, I'd be happy to walk 1/2 mile to the bus, retrieve the giant garbage bag containing hundreds of lunches and haul it to the mess area (and I mean mess).
FYI: To give you an idea of the primitive nature of this "camp". For dessert, we ate ice cream sundaes out of a long gutter.. "What do you mean, eat out of a gutter?" I snapped. "Oh, yes, mam, we do it every year. The gutter's been cleaned." Oh, well that sure makes it better.
I took out toward the bus to retrieve the garbage bag. Now I want you to picture this, me (in shorts, I was in my thirties) grabbing a black garbage bag full of lunches that I couldn't pick up if my life depended on it...dragging that blasted bag through the piney woods toward that 100 foot dessert gutter situated in the middle of the mess area.
I stopped momentarily to try and regain my composure when I thought I heard something behind me. I turned and out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. A bear, a wolf?
I froze. I looked like a female version of Santa Claus hoisting her pack along behind her and my steps were a little more lively because of the noise. I stopped, listened, heard a twig snap. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came several men in white uniforms running behind me. (Those kids could starve, I was high tailing it out of those woods...I left the garbage bag and ran full throttle to the mess area. )"Who in tarnation are those men in the white coats?" I shrieked. "And why are they running after me?" I was panting and "sweating" like a nanny goat in a pepper patch. "Oh, they weren't after you, Lady. Some patients from a nearby mental facility were visiting today and one of the patients got loose. They were just trying to capture him. He was right behind you." I remember swooning slightly and then I heard somebody yell, "Hey, lady are you going to get those lunches or what? We got to eat. The ice cream is beginning to melt."
Lessons to be learned:
1. Learn early in life what the word "NO" means and the USE it.
2. If you accept a job, don't gripe and complain about it. You could have used rule #1.
3. It's best to eat ice cream sundaes out of cups or sherbet dishes...eating out of a gutter takes some of the ambience out of the dessert.
BTW: That "Post It" note is the only thing about US Grant in my entire home, I promise.