Bull Scat

Did you think I was dead?

That would suck, wouldn’t it? This space could go for years and years into tiny oblivion and none of you would ever be informed of my demise.

Here’s the honest truth: I’ve nearly stopped working on my story. See, I have a problem. This story is about my family. And I’m having trouble telling it because it’s too personal. How do you tell a story that has the success or failure of your marriage intertwined into it? How do you tell when about it when things hurt?

See, there’s this canoe trip. It’s a Boy Scout canoe trip and I want to go. I wanted to go until I started going to the meetings about the trip. There was a definite message from the guys who were organizing it – No Girls Allowed. 

Since then, Mike and I have argued, a lot. I’ve talked to all my friends and lots of strangers about this. And I keep coming back to the same message that these guys running the trip don’t want some woman coming along and ruining it for them.

I could tell you the details. I could. Basically, they didn’t believe I had any experience at this kind of thing. Then, when it became apparent that I actually did, they rejected every single idea I had regarding the trip. Every one. They were barely polite, gritting their teeth as if I were some geek who had showed up at their after-prom party, they being the popular kids, and their parents told them they had to be polite.

Oh, I tried to be enthusiastic during the planning meetings. I was encouraging during the canoe training, willing to take every test given to the boys. I did fine. I fucking know how to paddle a canoe.

This is a sucky story. I’m not doing it justice. See, I don’t want to quote any quotes because it isn’t my job to be vindictive and publish the true nature of someone’s short-comings. I’m not willing to make myself the foil here either. Usually, I don’t mind being the idiot for my stories. This one hurts too much.

Did you ever go on a vacation or even to a weekend getaway with people who didn’t want you there? I did. A couple of times back during college when I had lowered expectations of what friends should be. My taste has improved since then. I dumped those friend.

I didn’t pick these people as friends, either. I inherited them from the Boy Scout troop. I’m friends with lots of the Boy Scout parents, but I’m still getting to know many of them. Now I know a couple that I’d like to avoid, a couple who made it clear that no amount of expertise on my part is enough to make it worth taking a woman on a canoe trip.

The hard part is that Mike and I fell in love on our canoe trips. We kept going well after we moved away from the Explorer Post for which we ran them. I counted states the other day. I’ve paddled a canoe, a raft, or a kayak in eleven different states. I’ve been on nine or ten canoe treks of four to seven days. Mike and I have paddled a loaded canoe with our dog through three to four foot swells. I’ve suffered hypothermia while paddling. We’ve paddled 21 miles in one day. I’ve cycled ten miles to do the shuttle after paddling sixteen down a river. I’ve snuggled up with my husband and our dirty dog in a tent when the temperatures dipped below freezing on a late summer trek. We’ve paddled rivers so bony that we might as well have dropped the canoe from a second story deck. We’ve paddled in wind and rain and hunkered down, even coming across a rattlesnake once when we had to get off the water in a thunderstorm. I know how to paddle a damned canoe.

I should not have to explain myself, to justify my experience in order to be able to go on this trip. None of the other adults were required to demonstrate their experience to go. Most of the kids are completely inexperienced. I would be a fucking asset to this group.

But in the end, I was the one who decided not to go. I did it. I couldn’t see asking for any help no matter how much I needed it on this trip. I wasn’t going to let myself sing, which is what I usually do when I’m on the water. I was going to try to stay quiet, to try to stay out of the way, to try to be extraordinarily helpful, to try to be really friendly. Oh, I hate having to behave that way. It’s nauseating.

But the reason, the real reason I’ve decided not to go is that if I can’t feel comfortable enough to ask for help if I need it, I’d be a real risk to the safety of the group.

This is what could happen: My back would go out or my sugar levels would tank. I’d stay quiet, thinking I’d suffer through the trip. I’d keep trying to contribute, exacerbating my problem. The other people would be oblivious because they don’t have as much experience outdoors as I do. Mike might try to help me, but he’d try to keep it on the lowdown because he doesn’t like making waves and I would insist on not asking these people for help. My situation could deteriorate. The group could conceivably get into some real danger if one of its members drops down below a functioning level, needs medical attention outside the range of professional medical help. Yup, not being willing to ask for help on a trip can be a real hazard.

That’s why I shouldn’t go on the trip.

But it’s bogus. The leader of the group, an assistant Scout leader, said some shit about the boys not being able to have a good time if I go, as if I would represent mothers everywhere and keep them from farting and laughing about it around the campfire. As far as I know, the presence of a woman is not a detriment to a boy’s development. Oh, I get that my boy might need some space at some point, but he wouldn’t mind me going on one trip a year, a trip that I was really excited about going on.

You know, I am a real fan of the Boy Scouts, in general, but like any organization, it has its limitations. Did I just hit the bone of one of them? Maybe I did.

My marriage is suffering because of all these debates with Mike. It feels as though it’s suffering. He’s trying to bridge the gap between the two factions. You might imagine how that’s going. Mike does not like confrontation. I don’t usually back down from it. That’s usually an asset for our marriage. I’ve learned not to push him too hard and I can be the go-to person for fighting outside forces.

See, he’s been so busy with the troop that, despite a recent vacation, I’m feeling neglected. I’d gone into this troop with enthusiasm, thinking we’d be working as a team. Oh, we work as a team alright, as long as I’m cooking and running errands. Our team has collapsed over the fun stuff, the real stuff, the part that I find has any value. Mike gets to have all the fun and I get to stay home and clean up the Dutch ovens when its over.

That’s starting to feel like bull scat to me.

Thank you for listening, jules