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Taking One for the Team

By Tim Hayes

We all know one.  The dad who misses the first inning of a big game to park the car and walk to the field from a distance.  The lineman who sacrifices his body to protect the quarterback so that the team can score.  The mother who spends that Wednesday shopping and cleaning, then cooks a turkey and a bounteous meal that special November Thursday, while everyone else snacks and talks and watches parades and football.

These people rarely get the credit they deserve and have earned, but they’re not looking for credit.  They’re not looking for glory or fishing for compliments.  They’re the great unsung heroes, and they carry out their heroism humbly.

I was an unsung hero once.  But I demanded some credit.  I longed for glory and compliments.  I was not humble.  I was mad, and wanted restitution for my sacrifice.  Here’s how it went down.

Age nine, Cub Scout den meets at my house, Mom serves as Den Mother, the big Halloween Pack Meeting looming and our little den wants to blow those other dens’ doors off with something spectacular, unrivaled in the annals of Scouting.

Before long, eureka!  We will recreate the (then brand-new) Peanuts story of the Great Pumpkin!  And not as ourselves as recognizable Cub Scouts, but with actual 3-D recreations of Charlie Brown and everyone in the TV special.  Hah!  Take that, you sorry other dens.  Prepare for epicness at the local Moose Hall in three weeks.

We actually had a spitting chance to win first place in this talent competition, unlike my cursed luck with the Pinewood Derby races, where no matter how fast my little “Yellow Lightning” car zoomed around my bedroom, when it had to perform in front of more than two people it forgot how to run in a straight line.  But this Peanuts thing felt like a stroke of genius.  A sure thing.  A slam dunk.

Mom performed above and beyond with this project.  She took the leap and led 10 little male doofuses into the tricky, sticky quicksand of papier-mâché.  Bless her heart, she’s the most courageous woman I know.

If memory serves, we started by blowing up some really big balloons, then dunked long, wide strips of newspaper into the goop and draped them over, around, and under those balloons, ending up with pretty good “heads” for the characters.  A week later at the next den meeting, the papier-mâché had dried, so we popped the balloons and started paining on faces, poking holes so we could see out, and making an opening big enough to get the things over our noggins.  All the main Peanuts characters had a part—Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy, Pig Pen, the Great Pumpkin himself, and…Lucy.

LUCY?!

Hold the phone here, Mom.  This is a gaggle of Cub Scouts.  We can’t have a Lucy!  We are of one mind on this point, right guys?

Well, we not only ended up with a Lucy—who was pretty integral to the story—but guess who got to play the role?  Yep, yours truly.  Taking one for the team.  The unsung hero, that’s me.

Some are born to perform in drag, others have it thrust upon them.  But I did not go quietly into that papier-mâché performance.  I had some clauses built into my contract to protect myself from the avalanche of Monday morning abuse this Friday night fiasco would surely produce in class, should word get around who was inside that big round female head.

My terms.  One: I would absolutely not wear a dress.  Two: No dialogue for Lucy.  She would work in mime for the first time ever.  Three: The whole troupe would enter the Moose Hall’s big meeting room together in full giant-head regalia and nondescript sheets, and leave the same way.  We would accept our applause once we had returned, completely out of costume.  Four: Everyone in the den would swear to keep his big trap shut about this forevermore.  These conditions were accepted, and the show went ahead as planned.

Fact is, we killed at the Pack Meeting.  No one saw it coming.  We won the competition, hands down.  We blew their doors off.  A theatrical triumph in every way.

I had it made in the shade Monday morning as our class settled in for the day.  Or so I thought.  Just before the morning prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, the kid behind me leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Nice wig…Lucy.”

So much for Scouts honor.

Copyright 2017 Timothy P. Hayes