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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Boys, Power Tools and other Dangerous Things

Introducing the "E-Racer" and the "I-Racer"

As the kid-bearing half of a bi-coastal marriage, I am heavily engaged in the business of independently running my household between (and especially during) my husband's visits. This role is not as taxing as you may think as I have a tendency to reserve the most undesirable parenting projects for dad's visits. However, due to some poor planning on my part, I was unable to punt responsibility for the boys' Pinewood Derby Cub Scouts event.
For me, this was a most formidable and dreaded venture on many grounds:
First, I do not own a power tool. Nor do I want to own one. Not even the pink one that comes in the Big Momma Toolbox.
Second, I have serious reservations about all things "scout" and suspect that under this well-orchestrated front, we have unwittingly signed our boys up for some Idaho branch of the militia movement.
Third, at every pack meeting, I am waiting to get "outed" in front of my sons. No, not exposed for what you are thinking but for the even greater sin against nature--you know--serving those seven years on the ACLU Legal Panel.
With these fears in mind, I embarked on the derby project after first buying a junior hand saw, sand paper and paint. I even rented the scouting movie "Down and Derby" to inspire the boys. Of course, this backfired as it only made the boys suspicious; they worried that I would take over their car projects as did the obsessed fathers in the movie.... If they only knew.
Instead, after seeing those slick-shined movie cars, I worried that my sons would be humiliated at the big event with crummy mom-made derby cars. I even went on-line to see what a finished derby car might cost me. Alas, it was not the $200 price tag that deterred me so much as the illegality of this option. Apparently, the Scout is supposed to make his own car.
Although violating the Scout's honor code was not exactly a felony in my book, it was not one of the seven virtues I had hoped to instill in my boys. I briefly wondered whether any sociologists had yet undertaken a study of the percentage of scout-honor-code violators on death row...
Thus, a frenzied week of intermittent sawing of seemingly impenetrable blocks of wood followed. I noted that the boys' brief sawing efforts were interspersed with many, many Wii breaks. Slowly, the cars began taking shape, albeit not quite the shape the boys had in mind. Although they had downloaded some mighty fancy figure-eight car designs, my veto power had been silently exercised in favor of the humble doorstop design.
So, once each block of wood was finally cut into a simple wedge, the boys tried sanding the now splintered and spiky edges. After a nanosecond of this nonsense, they entirely gave up on the concept of sanding. For life.
Painting presented as a much more appealing activity. Fortunately, the boys did not seem to regret their earlier color choices of Pepto-Bismol pink and traffic-cone orange for their racers. They globbed on rivers of paint. Some landed on the cars.
So Derby weigh-in day finally arrived. In their cockpit preparations, the boys carefully peeled off the newspaper that stuck to their splinter-sticky cars. Then, the boys hammered on the wheels. Next, they affixed decals. Then, they affixed more decals. Then, a few more. And WA-LA! They were now the proud owners of the only cars in scouting history that resembled rolling Chia pets. With decals.
The orange one, covered in I-Phone apps, was dubbed the
"I-Racer" by Paul. The pink one was named the "E-Racer" by Ben.
On racing day, the line-up was intimidating. The man-made racers shimmered with the white-hot promise of speed beneath their layers of high-gloss car wax. There was not a trace of a scout fingerprint to be found on these beauties as they had apparently been buffed into oblivion--along with any concept of their children's input. I briefly wondered whether there was a derby car assembly line hidden somewhere in the Mercedes factory. How did all those scout dads have the time to create those perfectly smooth and aerodynamic speedsters?
I looked at my sons faces and wished I had at least splurged on the Big Momma toolkit. It was too late to back out. My kids turned over their sticky Pintos. I just prayed they would not be humiliated....
No time for regrets. The race was on.
Caution: actual racing footage follows. Hang on.

1 comment:

  1. Your commentary is hilarious. From the actual race footage, looks as though the orange sticky splinter car took the checkered flag by about three car lengths. Hope the scout dads hung their heads in shame.