Monday, April 30, 2012


How can you not like a rope swing?
Tarzan inspires all of us. Admit it.
Not just the scantily clad Jane, but the swinging on vines.
Like many of us in this country, my first experience with a rope swing came at scout camp.
Scout camp. What an anachronistic group. You do realize that the Boy Scouts were started because a certain Sir Baden Powell thought that the youth of his day were too soft to serve their country in war?
Anywhen, that is neither here nor there.
The rope swing at our camp, went across a "river". Really it was more of a hyped up stream. In the late summer the snow-melt that filled the stream was long gone, leaving us a foot deep trickle to adventurously swing across.
As everyone knows, the rope swing is not so much about skill as it is about hand strength. Panic and fear of water greatly help in this endeavor, as does the natural hand strength found in teenage boys.
Swinging across was not really the problem, letting go was. So we had three of the older boys go first to catch the rest of us. One mighty swing and we would travel the vast 9 feet to the opposite bank.
Leaders went first, then the boys, with one leader left to catch the rope and hand it off the the next boy.
We had leaders, women leaders. Even at that age I found it odd that a group called the "boy" anything would have women leaders?
Ah, well.
All the leaders but one were across, and me. I loved the rope swing. So I stayed till last, pushing the other mewling brats in front of me so that I could have a go with a little run and jump plan I had been formulating.
A leader, lets call her... "Susan" (Her real name) was waiting with me. She was one of the Mom leaders, and she took the  whole "scout" thing real serious. She was all about "regulation" she absolutely refused to wear or do anything that was not in the handbook or the catalog. Even her uniform was immaculate. It was regulation every thing, her husband seemed rich to all of us. His kids always had the coolest stuff and she was always dressed exactly like she should be. She bought the entire uniform thing out of the BSA catalog. She even had the recommended knee high socks that begin where her regulation skirt ended. Pleated and pressed and tucked in.

I had a uniform shirt and a Rambo knife. That was good enough for me.

She terrified me for some reason. It could have been her voice, or maybe it was how close together her eyes were? My younger brother told me it was her fingernails. They were long and painted in breathtakingly garish colors. They were also as sharp as  razors. Whatever it was, she scared the hell right out of me. Her sons were punks. The youngest had bitten a chunk out of my little brothers leg years before and the oldest had gotten his ass stomped by a neighbor for hitting his fiat with a bottle rocket. Punks.
She was their mom, to the bone.
(JimmyJohns was Blue)

It was down to me and her, the Rope the river and a small horde of boys waiting on the other side.
Later this same day, she pulled me aside and held my head up so that our eyes met, she dug her fingernails into my jaw and leaned in real close, she whispered in my ear "If you ever, ever tell anyone! I will come into your bedroom at night and KILL you!"
It was not until a few years ago that I realized she sounded exactly like Christopher Walken.
So I reached for the rope, thinking she would be the last one across. Actually, I was hoping that she would walk the five feet to the bridge and just let me swing across alone. But the other Leader, lets call her "Shirley" (her real name) had swung across with a hoot and a lithe turn of the ankles. Shirley kicked ass. She wore jeans and a t-shirt, her regulations started and ended with "do exactly what I say", she wore moccasins and drove a 4WD Jeep Eagle.
I guess she had thrown down the gauntlet.
Susan grabbed the rope from my hands and went for it.
Kids today. They will never know the joy of living in a non-recorded life. Had this been now, all the little hipster scouts would have had their phones and DSLRs and GOPROs pointed directly at the action. You tube would have loved this one.
It would have gone viral.
She went in a downwards trajectory, and when the rope should have started to swoop her across to the other side, her fingers, or perhaps the nails, failed her.
She plummeted the 6 or 7 feet straight down with a girlish squeal.
The splash shot up as high as the banks on both sides. She hit knees first and flopped forward on her stomach.
I was the only one left on her south side.
The regulation scout skirt had flipped up on her back.
It took me a second or two to realize what I was staring at. The sound my mouth made when it snapped shut caused Susan, still on her hands and knees, to glance back at me. Realization, em-bareass-ment and sparkly hatred swept across her algae smeared face.
The catalog apparently, did not have a regulation underthing for women.


KMW said...

So she had funky underwear or was she "going commando"?

The Tom said...

Au natrale, commando, bare as god made her.
I do need to clarify that :)
Thank you