Thursday, January 10, 2013
My two older sons, one of them especially, had been asking for several years to join the Cub Scouts. I kept putting it off because I thought we were busy enough and didn't need another set of activities to keep up with, and also because it has long been one of my unconsidered, passivity-inducing attitudes to avoid anything that might demand of me either fundraising or mild interaction with strangers. However, as they continued to bring the subject up frequently enough to indicate that their interest in it, whatever form that took, consisted of something genuine, I told them last fall when school started that they could sign up. When I went to get the uniforms I was a little regretful that I had made them wait until they were 10 and 9, as they have already aged beyond the blue-uniform Cub Scout years, besides being well behind the other kids as far as obtaining badges goes. We were predictably busy in the fall and our attendance at the meetings was haphazard, and I eschewed the fundraising completely; though when my wife found out, after the deadline had passed, that I had shirked this, she admonished me and said that if the children were part of the pack, they had a responsibility to do their part in the fundraising. This view of the subject had never occurred to me. I had always thought of fundraising as a form of harassment towards which one should adopt the most suspicious and hostile attitude at one's disposal, and was truly shocked that anybody friendly to me could view the matter in a different light. Besides this the local pack is not the most crisply efficient in terms of organization--and I am not of that class of super parents who would be of much help in correcting this--but as with everything we undertake, our involvement is becoming more regular and we are slowly becoming full-blown members of the troop.
This said, I was quite unprepared for the scene at the first few meetings. Most progressive parents nowadays shun the scouts, and do so with a fair amount of zest, because of their position on homosexuals--this being that, if you are openly gay, you can't have anything to do with official scouting--so consequently there are no such families involved in it, at least where I live. I know I should be indignant about this policy too, but I don't seem to be able to get very worked up about it. I have not yet come around to the conviction that every institution in society, even those whose purpose is dedicated to fostering the development of competence and leadership in boys, is obligated to endorse, tacitly or otherwise, an acceptance or approval of homosexual behavior. The scouts' position is perhaps a little extreme--I do not know that you need to bar gays unequivocally, if they are willing to respect the mores of conduct that the organization considers dear to the atmosphere and philosophy of young manhood it wants to promote--but I increasingly have the sense that from the gay standpoint, any hint that their sexual preferences and desire to publicly proclaim them, even where these are tolerated, are less than 100% embraced as wonderful and appropriate in every situation, is unacceptable, and merits to be attacked with sarcasm and vitriol. But getting back to the meetings, the crowd of adults that one encounters there is a mixture of rightish-leaning, or what is more probable, liberal-disliking, patriotic, and blue collar--several of the fathers are policemen. There a couple of libertarian families. All of the parents seem to be married, which as you know is becoming rare at this socio-economic level. There is a definite ideological undertone running through this group that society, and particularly young boys, is suffering from the lack of strong and proper masculine leadership in the family and community, and that they at least are not going to fall prey to this. I know I rant about this stuff all the time, but at the same time I don't really know how or have the fire to be an authoritarian parent and husband the way some of these guys are. Various ceremonies such as doing the scout pledge and salute, and of course all of the rituals involving the American flag, which would probably be seen as silly by most white collar professional types, are treated by the leaders as matters of the utmost seriousness. I'm not used to being around people who think and act this way anymore, and at first I felt really out of my element. However, as I say, I am getting used to the other parents now, and they are starting to perceive, I think, that I am not going to try to impose a more namby-pamby attitude on the proceedings, and the children, to my admitted surprise, seem to like the uniforms and the ceremonies, and are not creeped out by the earnestness with which they are undertaken in the least, and I don't even think that is necessarily terrible, because the older two at least I just don't see having the temperaments to become rigid and obsessive anti-progressivists.
We did skip Scout Night at Monster Jam last Friday. Everybody has his limits and Monster Jam is one place where I have to draw the line and say, I just cannot sit through four hours of this or however long it is. Sorry.
I am glad to see that Mad Men star and heartthrob of all the sexually restless wives and mothers of my generation Jon Hamm has also developed an obsession with the Lennon Sisters. This makes it cool, right? And before you try to argue that I am referencing the National Enquirer, remember it was they who broke the John Edwards love-child story; so they are a legit news organization.