I’m great at boats!

greatatboatsSome people are just meant to be on, near, or in the water. Or they are actively fish. I happen to be one of those non-fish, but still exceptionally water-centric people. I get twitchy if I’m more than 45 minutes from the ocean, despite repeated warnings from Hollywood disaster movies that make it clear that only people from the middest of the Midwest will survive various earthquakes, asteroid strikes, tidal waves, or gradual sea-level rises caused confusingly but probably plausibly by global warming in the course of a two-hour film. Doesn’t matter, I like being near the coast. It only stands to reason that I’d tackle the “Boating” badge as soon as oceanly possible, with the help of my partner, who I am calling “Mister J,” and who not only introduced me to Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comic (see above), but also recently listened to a long-ass audiobook about naval history and decided we should visit Battleship Cove in Fall River, Mass.

Home to the USS Massachusetts, or “Big Mamie,” a WWII-era battleship and now the namesake of a mediocre Narragansett beer, I’d been once before to the national maritime park and museum as a sparky five-year-old chilling with my grandparents. Upon my memories, it was clearly the perfect place to, as directed by my badge book, “be an old salt” as I recalled the rules of the slightly wetter road and brushed up on my high-seas manners. I also feel I could have earned the “Wedging My Giant Ass into Tiny Spaces” and “Climbing Really Narrow and Steep Staircases That Are Probably More Accurately Described as Ladders” badges, but I’ll settle for the all-purpose Boating one.boatingbadge

For starters, the Boating badge requirements recommend learning a few sea chanties, story-songs traded by sailors for entertainment. There are many options, but really only two are necessary and I will brook no arguments on this point. And frankly, everyone should be glad I didn’t just watch Jaws and call it a day on earning the badge.

With a song in my heart and some extra Motrin coursing through my old-ass musculoskeletal system, I set my cell phone to 24-hour nautical time (that was really a requirement) and proceeded to explore the ships moored at Battleship Cove. And really, this shit was a blast. We charted our course from bow to stern of a destroyer, battleship, and submarine, delving into brigs, galleys, and captains’ quarters. As requested by the GSUSA circa 1983, I ensured that the ships stayed away from swimmers, divers, and people fishing; spotted buoys (there was one down the street at another museum); and treated the water habitat with care. I also verified that at no point was Mister J seasick, hypothermic, not breathing, or inflicted with a sunburn of any stripe. Successful at sailing, I am, despite the fact that these ships all appeared to have been powered by gas, steam, or something else other than wind.


Such boat, much sail. Is the Boating badge entirely earned yet? Not quite, as I need to find a personal flotation device, but SOON. I still recommend a trip to Battleship Cove, whether you’re a boat enthusiast, a child, or a peculiar adult like me.


Juliette Gordon get Low, get Low, get Low


Look at this six-year-old shit. She’s a delicate flower, a blossom of lyrical movement. (IT ME, SO DON’T SAY I’M MEAN TO AMERICA’S YOUTH) Also, I’ve no idea who the other girl is and am frankly confused she’s in the pic because normally my dad was better at framing the significant bits.

The level to which dance has been an intrinsic part of my life and my soul (whatever ratty bits of it still exist) shouldn’t be underestimated, if you’re given to underestimating stuff. As an art form, as an expressive activity, as a hobby, as an actual professional job, and as a chance for my knees to shriek “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE MIDDLE-AGED, STOP FUCKING GRAND PLIE-ING!”, my Terpsichorean predilections are a big-ass thing.  Learning to dance represents one of my earliest memories and offered a primary way for me to express myself – namely because I enjoy entertaining people and who doesn’t like applause, particularly the polite kind mustered up by dance-recital audiences.

Also, if you get the Juliette Gordon Low reference? Good on you. If you don’t, you’re on the Internet, I don’t need to edumacate you.

So upon deciding on the first badge to re-earn, I selected “DANCE” both because I’d literally just curtained a run on a dancing sort of performance show and because I was quite convinced I could get my friends Victory and Raven to jump on board with an Earning Experience (tm pending).

Victory is *entirely* on board, having been a Girl Scout in the yesteryear. Raven – not so much. Our evening was meant to involve me mocking the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” (terrible film, watch Secretary or literally anything else instead), and Raven is …. perturbed that I’ve suggested instead expanding our ownership/worthiness of bits of fabric meant for preteens. She feels “hoodwinked” into my nonsense, but it all works out, particularly after a call to her partner, who notes that Girl Scouts learn immensely useful skills, some of which none of us possess. FULL BUY-IN FROM ALL, YAY TEAM!

dancebadgeThe Dance badge calls upon its penitents to choose six activities, among which are to practice some new dance moves, see a movie or television musical, participate in a dance class AND show, and discuss some dance feelings. We are primed for this event, having recently been to dance classes and being in shows. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ON TWO POINTS.

To get things going, I start with the requirement: “Select a piece of music and move your body to this music.” My ladies and I choose Ginuwine’s “Pony” and proceed (marginally wine-fueled) to “swing, bend, turn, stretch, pull, push, twist, strike, dodge (no, I don’t really get that one, either), bounce, shake, hop, skip, walk, and gallop” to the music. We do very well, frankly, and this is a satisfactorily completed requirement.

Next up? We have to watch a musical performance on television or in movie form. We/I select Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance of Rhythm Nation on “Lip Sync Battle.” Raven says, “maybe we should watch West Side Story or something” and yes, someday, we should. But we are tapping into a cultural touchstone of dance right now, and JGL got some moves.

In discussing how the musical performance made us feel (Yay! That was a thing! What are we doing again!?), we move smoothly and excitingly on to the next quest: “Learn about three different types of social dancing and demonstrate them.” Ours were the stripper rise, the frappe, and the bend and snap. I also jitterbugged briefly, but the stripper rise has always proved more useful, if only for the shock factor for the more prosaic among us. I proclaim zero responsibility for the bend and snap, I’m blaming Victory for that, while acknowledging the flexibility and grace required to complete the move. All three of us dance it right on up. Untz, untz, untz, untz. House dancing ensues.

And blissfully, it stops. All is silence. All is badge-earning. Luckily, we three have just one event necessary to our business left: Demonstrate feelings, the ways people move, and an expression of nature.

Luckily, Victory, Raven, and I all have dance explosions equal to this task – Victory, by way of the dance, waves goodbye to her dog’s ovaries (there was a recent spaying). I launch myself into a prolonged expression of a willow tree swaying in the wind. This is pretty basic, dance-wise, but I’ve had a rough couple of months and this is all I can personally dance up on, emotionally.

Raven saw a bagel cutter at Finagle-a-Bagel once that really spoke to her. She danced that up.

We three ladies earned the crap out of the Dance badge. And we have no intentions of stopping. I’m actively earning the Boating and Personal Health badges, with the help of some lovely friends and loved ones. Regardless of whether anyone happened to be a Girl Scout in the past, the efforts, the motivations, and the enthusiasm related to my silly little project seem to speak to people. The skills I’m learning while earning badges seem to make people smile. That’s enough for me. 🙂






On my honor, I will try…

As an over-eager, ambitious, and probably entirely obnoxious pre-teen, I engaged in that youthful rite enjoyed by some — but more importantly available to practically everyone — Girl Scouts. The vast majority of entertainment and education in my childhood stemmed from weekends spent camping, sleeping over at the Museum of Science, learning new skills, making new friends, etc., etc., all via the opportunities provided to me through Girl Scouting.

And frankly, I don’t recall all the skills I acquired by following my dream of earning literally every badge available to me. I’ve got one badge emblazoned with an astronaut and I could no more pilot a space shuttle — or even do the math to calculate a planet in retrograde — than I could actually fly through the stratosphere by flapping my arms real hard.

This sad state of affairs — more commonly known as a “mid-life crisis” — calls for action and being me, it’s the more outlandish of actions that I could possibly take to broaden my horizons. Others would take a class in pottery or something down at the adult ed center; I’ve instead dredged up a copy of my trusty Girl Scout Badges and Signs book and have opted to re-earn a few of my favorites, thrilling to the chance to learn some excellent skills that I assume will be entirely applicable to the world of 2016 and my adult life as they were to a wee-er me.

This particular adventure won’t be quite the same as that embarked upon by my 11-year-old self. Regrettably, the earth has turned many a time since I last donned my Girl Scout sash — AND vest, since I required an overflow garment to proudly display all my earnings. I’m older, theoretically wiser, and definitely wider, so unfortunately, that sash just doesn’t fit anymore.

Other things to keep in mind:

  1. No cookies. Grown-up me has celiac disease and can’t eat Girl Scout cookies. Not even the gluten-free ones, since they’re pure starch. However, please do support your local troops by buying cookies and eating them or, like me, giving them to friends or family. Or just watch this.
  2. Vastly less wholesome. As mentioned, instead of being a charming Junior Girl Scout, I’m a fairly bitchy gal in the waning years of my thirties. If I can earn the Horseback Rider badge by caring for, tending to, and riding off into the sunset on a bucket of Miller High Life ponies instead of finding an actual horse in my urban hellscape, I probably will and I’ll do it with way saltier language than I might have done a couple decades ago. I’m also unlikely to try and make any new friends, sorry, folks.
  3. The Internet. I may — as evidenced by this blog — incorporate the now-fully-in-existence-and-accessible-by-the-general-public Internet into the earning of badges, perhaps doing slightly fewer collages and dioramas and more YouTube videos and Photoshop displays. This would involve learning how to do both of the latter, when really, I’m significantly better at the former, so we’ll see what happens on this last point.

And that’s really it! First up: I inveigle two friends into joining me on my first adventure — earning the “Dance” badge all of an evening.