We are a blue-collar Scout troop without a full uniform between us – more Bowery Boys than Baden Powell. We don’t buy our gear at the official Boy Scout store which is strictly for fagateers but at the Army surplus stores on Canal Street. Who cares if our canteens leak and our hatchets shatter? They are what General Patton’s soldiers used and that’s all that matters.
Only once is our tough-guy veneer pierced. It is when we encounter a disfigured boy who pitches his tent right next to ours at a Boy Scout Jamboree. The merit badge sash he wears across his torso contains more badges than our troop has won in its entire history. He is also an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of The Arrow. This is like being a Green Beret and a Navy Seal. He is tall and well built. But, atop his perfectly formed body sits the most deformed head and face I have ever seen. His skull is squashed, elongated and lopsided. His features are randomly stuck onto the front of it like the plastic ears, mouth and nose of a Mr. Potato Head – a Mr. Potato Head who has been dropped from a great height. He has one misshapen ear on top of his skull and another down near his chin so that his glasses hang on his face in a vertical rather than horizontal line. His eyes, nose, and mouth are not much more than holes. Imagine the face of Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame drawn by Picasso then put through a wood chipper.