I come from a line of distinguished scouts. My father was an Eagle Scout in Grenada County. My sister, brother and I were all in the scouts. I even got my love of handwork from being in Brownies. (The first thing I ever embroidered was a Brownie purse. When I finished it, I had sewed the entire purse to the front of my uniform and the thing had to be cut off.) So when my son wanted to be in the Cub scouts I was very pleased.
When he got older and the men took over the scouting pursuits, he was to be recognized at some ceremony for advancing to a higher rank. He had been sick when a required overnight campout took place and this was the last requirement to advance. The Scout master called and said, "If you'll get his daddy to camp out with him, we will allow that as meeting the requirement." "Well, sure! No problem. They will do it this Friday night," I said. I passed on the message and Daddy said, "I'm not camping out, you do it." "What? You know I hate the great outdoor experience, you do it, " I pleaded. So late Friday afternoon, Ben and I (yes, me, ever the scapegoat) began setting up camp in the backyard.
First we made a little circle of pinecones and old bricks. That would be where the campfire would be. Next we pitched the tent. One pole wouldn't quite stay up straight, but it was good enough. Oh, yes, did I mention that earlier in the day, I had a perm? In those days, I had more hair and I kept it "fluffed". My hair has been the bane of my existence since I was quite young. Very fine and as I've aged, it's just the worst! (The one thing in life that I don't want to end up known as is the old lady in the nursing home with a beard...but even worse, the bald bearded lady in room 235.) So to preserve what little I have left, I've quit perming. But that week I got a doozey of a perm. And, one more thing, I had been to Gayfer's and gotten the newest Estee Lauder night cream. (Important Info for rest of story.)
We threw some blankets, pillows and two flashlights in the tent. I also found an old green water hose and opened the window to our bedroom. I pulled one end of the hose into the bedroom and closed the window enough to hold it taunt. I then brought the other end of the hose into the tent. This would be our emergency communication line to Chicken Daddy. We tested it out. Worked like a charm.
We lit the campfire, roasted a marshmallow or two and decided it was time to hit the sack.
We left just enough of the flap unzipped so we could look out at the stars and I thought, "This isn't so bad. A little stuffy, but I can do this." We decided it was time to go to sleep.
At some point in the night, Bo, our dog who terrorized the neighborhood if he ever got out of the backyard, began running and hurling himself on the side of the tent. We weren't quite asleep yet and we began yelling and telling him to stop and finally he settled down. All was quiet on the western front.
I had just removed a twig that was stabbing me in the back through the tent floor when I heard a strange noise...sort of like a splash or a thud. It stopped. What time was it? It had to be almost sunrise..where is the flashlight? Click...oh, it's only 10:15.
I slept fitfully. It was a little tight in the tent with my new perm and all. I was sort of wedged in between the pole that wouldn't stand up straight and the dog on the outside of the tent. Time check: 12:30. Ben was fast asleep. I heard the splat noise again. And then again and again. What in the world was it? Rain. Oh, please, not rain. Maybe it would pass. It was probably just a shower I thought.
About 1:00, the bottom fell out. I grabbed a flashlight and shook Ben. "Get up, quick!" I commanded. I felt rather strange. My head was hitting the top of the tent..oh, no, my perm! My hair mixed with the humidity had inflated and it seemed that my hair filled every square inch of the tent. There were dirt and twigs stuck to my Estee Laudered face and when Ben's eyes flew open he screamed, "Who are you? Where am I?" "It's me! It's me, your mother, it's raining, run inside I'll get the stuff." Ben scrambled outside. I picked up the hose and shouted to Chicken Daddy, "We are coming inside! We are coming inside! Turn on the lights!" (Silence, no answer.) I gathered flashlights, pillows and blankets. Bo growled and began pulling the blankets and nipping at me. The tent fell flat, I was getting soaked, my hair was deflating as we speak and my face...it was unspeakable. As I dashed to the back porch, I looked at the bedroom window for a glimpse of light. The hose had been thrown out the window and the window was tightly shut.
When I finally got into the house, I looked at myself in the mirror. No wonder the poor child was terrified. I looked like Freddie Kruger's wife. I devised my revenge. I was going to bed just like that...twigs and leaf fragments affixed to face, half inflated and half deflated hair, the whole enchilada...I personally think it served Chicken Daddy right. He never even turned over.
Lessons to be Learned:
1. If you aren't a real outdoor LOVER, then scouting may not be the best way for you to help your child pass away the time. Maybe you could guide him toward something a little less taxing like fencing or fly fishing.
2. Perms are best gotten during non-humid times in the south. Let's see that would be Christmas day or New Year's Eve.
3. The real test of how much your husband loves you is NOT if he will or will not camp out with your son in the backyard, but rather will he be ever ready, garden hose in hand, waiting on a distress call from the tent situated right below the bedroom window.