Friday, December 02, 2005

She is Spartacus!

My friend Janet was so goth when we met in university that it's incomprehensible that she was ever a Girl Guide. Yet she was, albeit a highly disgruntled one. I had a similar situation to the one that she describes here when I was in the Sea Scouts, although, unlike Janet, I never took it so far as to stage a revolt (or "mutiny", as we called it).

When we went to camp, we were always forced to go to chaplain services on Sunday morning. "But what if we're atheists?" my friend Barry and I asked. "There's not gonna be any atheists in my Scout troop!" Scouter Jim told us adamantly. And he was right, in fact. It's the policy. You can be a Jew or a Muslim, and you'll get a separate badge for it, but you can't be an atheist. (Or gay, for that matter, which doesn't really make sense given the practice of wearing sashes and earning merit badges for textiles and figure skating.)

But even though simply being in the Guides would have been intolerable enough for her, you can imagine how she would chafe at having religious instruction crammed down her throat, given that Janet was one of the key players in my Aristocrats post. And indeed she did:

You see, I hadn't paid my weekly dues to the girl guides. in fact I think I was three months overdue. I kept forgetting to put the money in my stupid pursey thing that clips on to your belt. One of the leaders was fed up with my forgetful ways and pulled me aside to have a talk. As she complained about my forgetfulness, she also took the opportunity to tell me what a bad girl guide I was. Just look at the sad amount of badges on my sash. I looked at the 3 badges I had earned--baking, art, and fire prevention (still don't know how I managed that).* She then pointed over to another girl, the shining example of a girl guide. White, blonde, kinda pudgy (from eating her baking) and her sash was chock full of badges. Even her shoes were tied with special guide knots. The leader then told me to go away and start acting like a good guide. Later in the evening, we were told to gather around to learn about God and Jesus Christ. This made me mad, because even at the tender age of 11 or 12, I was proud of being an atheist. I mean my father (the physics teacher) told me that God was energy, and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Plus, there were some Jewish and Muslim girls in our class, and I felt bad that they had to be subjected to lessons of Christianity.

At that point I knew what I had to do.

At break time we were allowed to leave the school gymnasium and play in the school yard. As soon as we were outside, I launched my campaign. I believe 'religious zealots' was a phrase I kept using, and before long I had rounded up about 15 girl guides, including the blonde pudgy perfect guide. She was spitting mad that she had been brainwashed for so long. I remember screaming 'Everyone head for the hills'. There were no hills, but nonetheless, we started running. At the very end of the school property there was a deep ditch that was mostly gravel. We dove into it and hid. It took about 20 minutes before anyone noticed that a substantial pack of guides was missing. From where we were hiding we could see perfectly the hysterics of the leaders as they shouted and ran around looking for us. We laughed, we ate fruit roll-ups and chewed gum (a no-no in guides), and some girl guides even practised spitting. It was a good time. But then it started to get dark, and the 'perverts that come out after dark' stories that leaders had all told us started to worry some of the girls. They took a vote and decided to head back in. I figured, 'what the hey, I'll go in too.' After all,the evening was almost at an end, and I wanted to go home and watch TV. You can just imagine the state of us as we walked through the gymnasium doors all covered in grey powder from the ditch. Some girls were even covered in their own spit. The leaders were furious as one of them had managed to get into the office to call the police. I was proud though of my girls because when asked who organized this campaign, no one said anything. Girl guides don't snitch.

The next revolt story is centered around my discovery that 'Crotch Rotch' didn't exist (something the leaders would tell us to make sure that we changed our underwear at camp). This made me mad and that's when the second rebellion occurred.

*My theory is that if is a child successfully bakes something without starting a fire, that automatically qualifies her for both badges.


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