Friday, July 12, 2013
The Hypocritical Oath
People always say they're suckers for men in uniform. I admit I am one of those "people", especially when it comes to, say, Val Kilmer circa 1986. Also, as much as I hate to give a nod to Tom Cruise because he is certifiably insane (obviously, because the "source" from People magazine is never wrong), but the guy can rock it when he's groomed from head to toe, there's a dewy glow along his brow and his steely gaze is fixed on saying, "Sir, yesSIR!" (Now if he could just master the "Ma'am yes MA'AM!") In addition to the uniform, men with badges also wield a certain appeal. You can really tell how important it is when someone dies. If you die and you have served your country in the military or community the picture that gets showcased on the nightly news is never the one from New Year's Eve wearing a sweater vest and Old Spice, it's always the one in uniform with the badges and the American flag hanging in the background.
However, despite the similarity of making oaths to perform duties to God and country, not all uniforms and badges are created equal. For example, Scouts have uniforms and badges and yet they get no respect. I guess we revere those who save lives and put away bad dudes more than those who clap in circles and give "rounds of applause". Just a few weeks ago when we were flying home I passed a military officer down the airplane aisle so I caught his attention and simply said, "Thank you for your service." But I would never single out a Scout Master and say, "Dude, thanks for teaching my son how to do blue darts." When I worked a small stint at a photography studio we had mothers who came in all the time making their Eagle Scout sons wear their uniforms with all of their merit badges as an outfit to showcase in their senior pictures. I always wanted to pull these boys aside and give them some hot wings and a Mountain Dew before going in so they could literally hold on to a little manhood before it was stripped away in front of the soft focus lens. I imagined whispering to them, "Repeat after me: I am cool like VinDiesel and one day I will have a girlfriend. Say it." They would repeat back, "I am cool like VinDiesel and one day I will have a girlfriend." I would gesture a friendly smack on their butt and say, "Good. Now go get 'em tiger. This will all be over soon." Regrettably, it never went down like that.
It may not seem like I'm very high on the organization but the truth is, I support it. I married an Eagle Scout. I'm also in the process of raising one, and there's actually a lot of crap to do. One of the requirements is that he has to have a certain number of nights spent camping with his troop, so he spent this entire week up in Rocky Mountain National Park passing things off. His leaders are outstanding and they were very organized in letting us know the things Drew needed to complete beforehand. We diligently hacked away at his list - he gave a speech, wrote a letter to "express [his] opinion" on a topic (and then the manager of our housing development called him back to say that the weeds in our yard were not his responsibility), prepared a creative introduction of himself (his rap was a big hit), and attended a public meeting. The only remaining requirement was to "develop a plan to teach a skill or inform someone about something". We had discussed various ideas and he assured me that everything was under control. Unfortunately, "under control" is teenage boy code for "wait until 9:30 the night before and search for ideas on YouTube." Which reminds me, I would like to amend the scout motto from "Be Prepared" to "If Momma Ain't Prepared Ain't Nobody Prepared".
THE NIGHT BEFORE.
I was not amused, but that's only because he hadn't yet arrived at the part where he was rummaging through the junk drawer mumbling, "Where are all the paper clips?" He eventually found some and made his way toward me and said, "Ok, Mom. Check this out. I'm going to fold this dollar bill...and then attach these two paper clips. When I unfold the dollar bill the paperclips are going to magically link together. WATCH." He unfolded the bill with hearty enthusiasm, paper clips went flying, and he almost ripped the dollar. I observed in great frustration and mild amusement. "Wait!" he urged. "Let me try again." NINE FORTY-FIVE. He returned to YouTube and came back a few minutes later to show me how to hold a rope from both ends and tie it in a knot without letting go. His right hand shot over his left, his left folded under his right, and he stood there struggling to get it right. Samantha walked into the room to discover the scene, saw Drew fumbling and said, "Give it to me." She performed the trick, threw the rope on the couch and triumphed, "There." And then she walked away. Drew ran back to the YouTube video to practice his tricks, and I returned to the couch and practiced not killing him. Ten o'clock.
He got home last night so I've been gathering facts today about how things went. "How did your skill teaching go?" "Oh," he said. "Well, it didn't work the first time because I forgot how to fold the dollar bill but I eventually got it right." Communications Merit Badge - check. As we speak he is upstairs arguing with his sister as they clean their bathroom, so I think he really soaked it in.
No respect. There might be a reason for that....