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Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.

3/02/2006

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
We Will Be Good Penisheimers
When I was 12 or so I spent a year as a Webelo, which is the pupal stage of American scouting... Yes, the transitional period between wormy, larval Cub Scout and the splendid, colorful butterfly-dom that is, uh, Boy Scouts and... Jeez, never mind.

If I remember correctly, I think “Webelo” is supposed to be some kind of fuckin’ anagram or euphemism or something for “We will be good Scouts,” although frankly the connection there strikes me as tenuous, at best. And, frankly, I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention, there, back in the day.

Regardless, it’s clear to me that whoever thought that shit up was a fucking dumbass, because in addition to not really doing a very good job of evoking that little “good scouts” mantra, “Webelo” is the most awkward and stupid name for an organization this side of my grandfather’s beloved Penisheimers, a popular American social club that as I’m sure you know was founded by West Coast community leaders in 1887 to oppress the Chinese.

Man, I was a shitty Webelo and... Webelo... Webelo... Weeee-be-looo... Wheee-buh-looow... Wheeee-blow... Ah hah ha ha, “We blow.” I just noticed that.

Anyway, I was a shitty Webelo. Perhaps the shittiest. I had long, greasy hair and had been raised to hate America and not care about the Bible. All the clean-cut churchy dudes that had blossomed into full Boy Scout status and were supposed to be mentoring us Webelos, but they could totally tell I was a degenerate and didn’t even talk to me. My mom was too cheap to spring for a proper uniform, so I had to wear a faded, ancient Webelo get-up scrounged from some garage sale, and it was all fucked-up looking and unstylish and made out of, like, stained pantaloons and ripped lederhosen.

Pretty much the only people in my troop who acknowledged my presence, and really the main reasons why I signed up in the first place, were my buddies Chip Coldwell and Alex Stein. By getting on board with all that Webelo shit we could all go camping together, which was super appealing, since my mom had up and converted to lesbianism by that point and the only camping we did as a family anymore involved the female softball team. Joining the Webelos gave me my only real opportunity to go fool around in the woods without being subjected to shit like Sapphic tribunals tasked with deciding whether me and my 11-year-old weiner should be sequestered away from all the womyn-folk, lest they stray too close to my crotch and get raped by the pre-tumescent man-vibes emanating from my ding-dong, and I swear to god I’m not even making that last part up and if you say I am I’m going to punch you in the brain.

This should come as no big surprise, since I’ve already informed you that they were my friends, but Chip and Alex were almost as socially awkward as I was. Oh, and dirty Jews to boot, so the Bible-y guys and various squad leaders and troop chiefs (or whatever they had, I can’t fuckin’ remember) were more than happy to ignore them, too. The three of us often found ourselves left to our own devices on camping trips, squatting in the leaves discussing the latest episode of Dr. Who while everyone else was running around tying knots and praying and learning CPR and being wholesome.

Well, mostly wholesome. The older scouts occasionally made a stab at bad-kid-ism, but their frame of reference was just too white-bread and they could never pull it off. One trip, I think to the Big-Ass Scout and Webelo Good-Timey Jubilee, saw our troop meet up in the woods with a rival bunch of squares for a planned gang rumble, but everyone just ended up comparing merit badges and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or selling each other Grit or whatever and shit never threw down. I had a D battery in a sock that I was fixin’ to use to conk somebody on the head, so you can imagine my disappointment.

That same trip I came ‘round a tent near the edges of our site and spooked three or four of the older scouts. Turns out they were all jumpy because they were smoking — get this — dried pine needles in a rolled-up piece of brown paper grocery sack and didn’t want to get busted. They told me I was too young and naïve to cop some of their fine pine-needle buzz and I kind of laughed, because despite my young age I had already smoked several cigarettes made from marijuana at that point. Informing them of this just reinforced my dirtbag rep.

Hey, when you’re a kid, how often are you supposed to get scoliosis tests? Because I just remembered — the head troopie guy was also my middle school P.E. coach, and he administered a damn scoliosis test every other week. Everybody dreaded it — you had to march into his office and close the door, and he’d be sitting there wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses, smiling a tight little smile. Nobody would speak — you knew the drill. Take off your shirt and bend over toward him and he’d kind of feel and press around on your spine and ribs, looking for abnormalities and no doubt enjoying his massive boner. As best as I can remember he never stuck anything up my butt or anything, but those tests were still pretty traumatic, and I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to share my tent with the guy on camping trips, you know?

Oh! Man! One Webelo camping trip traumatized me even worse than those scoliosis tests. It was pretty much the second scariest experience of my life, an incident involving a kid named Carsten Vala. Remember the first scariest thing in my life, the time when I was just a little kid and went to go make a pee-pee in the big-boy toilet for the first time and I got up on my tippy-toes and rested my ding-dong on the rim of the seat to make a tinkle and the lid fell and clamped down on my lil’ nubbin like a giant clam on an old-timey diver’s leg? And I stood there screaming in horror until Dad came running to pry me loose? Well, the Carsten Vala episode was just like that, except without nubbin, thankfully.

Hmmm... No, actually, come to think of it, it really wasn’t like the toilet-clamp at all. And, to be totally honest, I don’t know for sure if it was, like, even officially the second scariest thing or not. I haven’t been in the habit of ranking that sort of thing and the more I think about it now the more it seems the scoliosis tests might actually come in at number two. Frankly, though, I kind of don’t give a shit.

But it was scary.

We were camping and doing the traditional thing where you tell scary stories around the fire, and it all seems like good squirmy fun until you hump your ass back to that dark fuckin’ isolated tent and have to lie there for nine hours quivering every time a nearby squirrel bumps into a goddamn acorn, because somehow the removal of that warm fiery glow makes the existence of the Moss Man suddenly seem all too possible and — what the fuck was that?! Shhhh! Shhhhhh!! What the fuck was that rustling sound?!

...And, shit, Carsten? You think a kid named Carsten Vala is going to protect you from the fuckin’ Moss Man? Carsten was Danish or some shit and wore those terrible little Umbro shorts all the time. What the fuck is he going to do? You can’t whoop the Moss Man’s ass in Umbros. You can’t whoop anybody’s ass in Umbros. The best you could hope for with Carsten is that he’d whip out a soccer ball and challenge the Moss Man to a scrimmage. And maybe you could book on out of there while the Moss Man dined on his flesh.

Oh, the Moss Man, yeah. Supposedly he was a crazy murderer that got all bit by dogs and cut up by barbed wire escaping from a local prison. As the story goes, he was on the run through the swamps around the clock for a solid week before finally shaking Smokey and the dogs off his trail and collapsing into a big wad of Spanish moss, where he slept for like four days. When he woke up, he found the moss had taken root and grown into the deep cuts and gashes all over his face and body, and this turned him extra double crazy, and ever since he roamed the Florida woods all hideous and mossy, just killing the fuck out of everybody in a most grisly fashion and — wait, wait, shhh! Did you just hear something?! Oh, fuck this. That better not be no goddamn Moss Man rustling around out there. Shit.

Laugh all you want, sure. We’ll see how hard you laugh the next time you’re out in the dark-ass woods all surrounded by spooky moss and you hear kind of a murder-y noise in the bushes.

Anyway, the older scouts filled us full of campfire dread and then expelled us from warmth and communal protection, sending us on a Bataan Death March through acres of moss back to our tents where we were to cower away the night. I was sharing a tent with Carsten on this trip, and while this was certainly preferable to bunking down with Coach Fondles it didn’t exactly settle my nerves in regards to fighting off forest haints. But we made it there OK and mumbled a few consoling words to each other as got in our sleeping bags and hunkered down, hoping for a few minutes of shuteye before daybreak. Surprisingly, I managed to supress thoughts of the Moss Man and drift off fairly quickly.

At some point, though, I was woken up by a noise. A rustle.

I was in the thick of dreamland and struggling to swim back to consciousness when I heard the noise again. Totally disoriented, I just kind of lay there. Where was I? Why was I all cold and unhappy? And why is that sound significant?

Then I heard it again. And close. And it hit me: Moss Man.

The thought jolted me awake. I lay there in the darkness, still as I could be, still woozy but with all senses on overdrive. And the rustling sounded again, loud.

This time, though, it was accompanied by a frantic, wordless moaning.

Whoah.

The initial shock lasted less than a second, quickly giving way to a handful of dueling lightspeed rationalizations. Raccoon? No, raccoons don’t moan. Wounded raccoon? No, no, too small.

Then it happened again. It was loud. And close. And it was accompanied again by that terrible, desperate moaning.

Cougar, maybe? Cougars don’t moan, unless... Cougar in heat? Bear? Dare I even consider it, like for real? ...Moss Man?

Ah, no — it suddenly hit me. It was probably some of those douchebag older scouts.

When they bothered to notice me at all it was usually to try and pull typical lightweight hazing shit that only fooled their fellow Baptists — sending kids out to go get left-handed steak knives or 30 feet of shoreline, rounding up dupes for a snipe hunt, that kind of thing. Lame. That kind of shit never worked on me, probably because I once read, like, an Encyclopedia Brown book from 1912 or something that wised me up, and I knew they were resentful that I never fell for any of their antics. The noise was probably just them thinking they were going to Moss Man me into some kind of candy-ass frenzy. Well, fuck them. I had survived the fearsome Tribunal of Separatist Lesbos, had I not? I’d show them!

Suddenly the rustling turned into a bona-fide thrashing. And this time it didn’t stop. And that moan started up again, and I realized just how close it was — it wasn’t in the bushes! It was right up against the side of the tent! I could feel it bumping against my leg!

I turned wholly candy-ass and started kicking and squealing. The moan transformed into a terrifying, bestial grunt: NNNGH! NNNGH! NNNNNNNNNGGGGGHHH!! Holy shit, it was loud, and right outside!

No! Wait! It was there — it was in the tent with me! AAAAAGH! I could see something spazzing around on the other side of the tent — it had Carsten! It was... Eating him alive! Or... or... Humping his face! Or something!

Frantic, I grabbed my flashlight. The terrible noise and commotion reached a crescendo, becoming unbearable. Every nerve in my body threatened to shatter as I clicked on the light, fully prepared to come face to face with what I expected to be endless horror, rivers of gore that moments ago were my fellow Webelo Carsten... I could only hope my death would be swift, that the Moss Man’s infernal powers met their limit at the edge of the physical world and I would escape his hellish grasp as my soul escaped the constraints of my earthly body...

The light came on. I trembled. I saw Carsten’s eyes, shining in the beam, but starting to dim as he succumbed to... to... the grasp of... a big wad of nylon? What the hell?

Turns out Carsten’s complicated dental headgear had snagged on his sleeping bag. He rolled over five or six times after sacking out, pulling the bag tight around his shoulders and head. His arms were pinned and he seriously couldn’t breathe.

I got him out of there before he died and we went back to sleep.

...Oh, wait! Shit! Just now I remembered the worst thing!

There, was this movie, right, Dressed to Kill, directed by Brian DePalma. And my mom got together with a pack of lesbians and went to go protest this movie, because it was supposedly misogynistic and promoted violence against women and stuff, though your guess is as good as mine how they figured that out, because I’m pretty sure none of them had actually seen it.

Anyway, Mom knew TV reporters and shit were going to be there, so she made me dress up in my ramshackle Webelo costume and join the protest. I was forced under pain of endless grounding to wave a placard and march around in a circle in front of the movie theater, because Mom thought it leant their stupid thing credibility to have a Boy Scout out there chanting “Hey hey! Ho ho! Bad ol’ movie has got to go!” or whatever with all the commies and killjoys and hateful rug munchers.

So I did. I muttered their dumb rhymes and marched around and carried my sign, and the people waiting in line stared at me like I was a giant douche, and Mom of course made a giant fuss over everything. She got some news dude to come over and interview me, and they had a TV camera and a light on me and asked me why I was out there. “Violence against women is bad,” I mumbled. And it is. I believed it.

In the back of my mind, though, the Moss Man was stabbing them all, the lesbians and the movie people and the TV guys and everyone else, just stabbing and stabbing them over and over and over again. With his penis.

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