Published Sunday, February 10, 2013
Around this time of year, the sawdust flies.
Weapons are sharpened and oiled. Battle plans drawn up. Munitions purchased.
The stage is set for yet another year of copious amounts of lost blood and numerous slammed thumbs.
And there is a lot of muttering under one’s breath so the precious offspring won’t hear, and then run up to mom and announce, “Guess what dad just taught me to say?”
I speak of Pinewood Derby. For the uninitiated, the Daytona 500 for Cub Scouts.
This was a bittersweet year for me. I have built, destroyed and rebuilt more Pinewood Derby cars than I can remember. With all three SONs of Thunder in cub scouts over the years, it adds up.
This is our last. Youngest SON is moving up to Boy Scouts next year.
On the one hand we have that incredible bonding experience with our sons. Or, as some put it, a total guilt trip to make sure your kid’s block of wood doesn’t look too dorky. And you’d better not come in last place because you will crush him for life. Absolutely no pressure. None.
On the other hand, we have the whole “what do you mean it’s just a cut? We’re going to the emergency room now!” spoken in ever increasing levels of volume by the Little Black Dress.
As I said, bittersweet.
This year, we went with “The Baconator.” A rather brilliant idea if I do say so myself. We recently got a rather large dog, about the size of a llama. Said Gigantor loves those dog bacon treats and while pondering what this year’s entry would be, I spied the bacon strips and The Baconator was born.
An aside: The Dress is beyond adamant it was her idea, that I only came up with the name. To keep peace and be able to sleep safely at night, “as you wish” my dear.
I cut the block of wood into something non-dorky, and The Dress glued on the bacon strips. It was awesome.
We were not the only ones who thought it was awesome.
A couple of hours before the Friday night practice runs - the actual race was Saturday morning - The Dress calls and puts Youngest Thunder SON on the phone.
Apparently, we had left The Baconator on the kitchen counter. And, apparently, Gigantor just could not resist the temptation of the delicious treats covering said derby car. Let’s just say Gigantor had a feast.
And so The Dress had to high-tail it The Big Pet Store to get more bacon strips and glue it all back together so we would, you know, actually have a vehicle in the Pinewood Derby.
Every year, I help glue on various weights - some no more than 1/10 of an ounce, to get to the perfect weight - five ounces. Bacon strips are heavy, much more than we realized. We needed to kill an ounce.
So I used one of those electric hand tools with 5,000 attachments and started sanding the bottom out. I did quite a good job, because after a while the wood started smoking and The Dress sweetly advised me to slow down or not only would this Baconator be eaten, but burned up as well. But we got the job done, despite enough sawdust in the kitchen to start a bread crumb factory.
Alas, The Baconator was not the fastest, nor was it voted “most unique.” (We are appealing that one.) But it was definitely the tastiest, and that counts for something in my book.
A few moons ago, I was the cubmaster for the Mighty Men of Pack 47. And I thought it appropriate to say a few words to try and keep the whole thing in balance.
Fellow cubmasters are more than willing to borrow these -- I believe they will stand the test of time.
Addressing the crowd, I said:
“You are all winners.
“You have worked very, very hard.
“We are all proud of you.
“This is the Pinewood Derby. It is not Life.
“The place you finish in this race has no bearing on your future.
“When this is all over, your family will still love you.
“Enough about the dads.”
I then turned to the cub scouts and said:
“Mighty Men of Pack 47 - Time to race!”
And we did.