A Polo Player Goes Camping

boy scout

In the course of emptying out my polo bag (to stuff it with spare socks, jeans, and manly-man, I’m-totally-prepared-for-this lumberjack shirts), I found not only several items I thought surely lost, but also a bottle of hot sauce, six beer bottle caps, and about a ¬†half cup of glass from the break in on my car a few months ago.

I went ahead and wiped out the bag a bit more than I expected, imagining my underwear filled with trace amounts of glass. Whoa boy.

And so I packed, with the gentle and disappointing reminder that this wasn’t for a tourney–that I didn’t really need to bring my favorite Gunk bicycling cap, my mallet, my spare tube.

Oh, well maybe I’ll just pack the cap and the mallet in case. Nobody will notice them in the trunk.

I pick up my nephew after spending a whole day dreading the high pitched squeal that only emanates from a pack of ten year olds at work and he is decked out in his full camping regalia. He is excited, and it makes me happy to be part of this, even if it does mean that I’ll probably miss bike polo on Sunday. I push my wheel covers out of the way (I might need them too, you don’t know what cub scouts do these days) and put his stuff in the car with mine. We’re off, and he’s already planning how we’ll kill a squirrel and eat it.

Bonding.

We meet with the rest of the pack at a Chik-fil-a. I look at my car compared to the other parents: stickers from my club, a bike rack, inexplicable mallets and those wheel covers poking up from the back seat. They all have SUVs with “proud of my cub scout” on them. Maybe the “read local” sticker I have will qualify me as an alright uncle. who knows.

The parents ask me where I live and what I do. I tell them I’m an editor, and they naturally ask of what. Well, it was good while it lasted.

I explain the blog and my regular job, which leads to a series of questions about bike polo and an equal series of blank nods and half-smiles. I order an extra chicken sandwich to stop myself from crying. It’s always worked before.

The cabin we’re staying at has bunk beds and I sleep on the top. I’m scared of falling through and killing my nephew, but it seems to hold. as soon as I hop down the scout master tells me I should lock my car doors, even though we’re in the woods. I wonder what would prompt this until I see a cub scout named “Francis” using one of my mallets in an attempt to chop down a tree, and two other scouts trying to break acorns with my helmet.

“They’re all so violent,” I say.

“It’s the scout way, exploring,” the scout master says, looking blankly in satisfaction as one kid digs my wheel covers into the ground.

I begin to think that this is some kind of LARP for the Hunger Games, but it’s a fleeting though.

After we eat a dinner made of hot dogs and leaves we’ve found, it’s time for bed. My nephew is used to staying up until 1AM but I convince him that if he doesn’t go to bed now, a bear will attack him and eat his legs. It seems to work.

After we’ve all settled down, someone tugs at my shoulder. It’s another parent who holds up a fifth of whiskey.

I stumble out of my bunk and we step outside into the cold darkness. The rest of the parents are there, too.

“So you do a lot of biking?”

“No, I don’t.”

“You got a bike rack there.”

“It’s for bike polo.”

“That’s not a real thing, is it?”

“Of course it is.”

One of the parent scoffs and tells me that it’s not really a real thing. I try to channel Alias by explaining why his sentence is so entirely wrong, but somehow all my eloquence comes out as a curse word and I turn to walk back into the cabin. I’m stopped, however, by tripping over my air pump, which has been fashioned into some sort of scarecrow using my face cage and some sticks.

“This whole place would really benefit from some bike trails though, all this walking is the dumbest dumb that ever dumbed,” I say as a closing argument before going back inside and falling asleep in the wrong bunk bed.

(This is how I imagine my upcoming weekend will be. I’ll let you know how close I am)

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