Bobby's Good Deeds
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Now that I think back on it, I suspect that the Boy Scouts probably wasn't the best organization for me, when I was a kid. I wasn't really "the type", if you know what I mean.
If you don't know what I mean, all you have to do is take a look at the cover of a Scout manual. The picture is always of an athletic, handsome kid, who is obviously clever, and I wasn't any of those things.
On the other hand, any good Scout executive would smile benignly and tell you happily that, while the Scouts can't do anything about being handsome, they are experts at helping boys become more athletic and clever.
And, come to think of it, I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't been a Scout.
"Where am I now?", you ask.
Well ... I suppose that's the rest of the story.
It all started when, as I was trying mightily to become a full fledged Tenderfoot Scout, I learned the Scout slogan: Do a good deed every day.
That's not so hard, right? All you have to do is something nice for somebody else, or something that helps someone. How hard could that possibly be?
A lot of folks think that's the Scout motto - Do a good turn daily - but that's wrong. It's the slogan. The motto is: Be Prepared.
To get it right, you have to be able to do both of those things at the same time. That's where I had problems.
I thought up all kinds of good deeds. The trouble was, I didn't think them through all that well. I wasn't ... prepared.
Take, for instance, the very first official good deed I tried to do. I took my dad's new lawnmower and went down to old Mrs. Jenkins house to mow her lawn. I didn't tell her I was coming. That's part of doing a good deed, right? You want good deeds to be a surprise.
So there I was, with my dad's brand new lawnmower, which was self propelled, which was a new idea to me. I think that's part of why I wanted to do this particular good deed. Dad wouldn't let me mow our lawn, at least not with the new mower. That was back before lawn mowers had five or ten different safety features on them. When you pulled the lever to make it go ... it went. You had to push the lever to make it stop. If you didn't ... well ... it didn't stop.
I guess I wasn't too well prepared, because when the thing lurched into gear, and took off, and I stepped on my loose shoe string, chasing it, it jerked out of my hands. By the time I got hold of it, it had beautifully cropped ten feet of lawn, and six feet of Mrs. Jenkins' prized Azaleas.
I have to tell you, that baby could cut good!
I caught up with it, and pulled it up on the back wheels, so I could turn it around and get out of the flower bed, and sort of got tangled up in a Japanese Quince bush. Those are thorny, and I had on shorts. Who'd have thought part of being prepared for cutting grass was wearing long pants?
Anyway, there was a big bed of what turned out to be rare Calypso Oleanders, and by the time I got hold of the mower again, there were pretty pink petals scattered all over the place. I thought it was a nice touch. You know, it spread the colors out much wider than they had been. Mrs. Jenkins wasn't impressed, though, and my first good deed got me grounded for a month.
I thought my next good deed couldn't possibly miss. My mother sometimes talked fondly about a cat she'd had when she was in college, and how much she missed it. When I found a stray cat on my way home from school one day, it just seemed natural to take it home, clean it up and have it there for Mom when she got home from work. I gave it a bath in the kitchen sink.
Who'd have thought cats hated water so much? I mean everybody talks about how they clean themselves all the time and all that. And it let me pick it up just fine when I found it. But I guess my dousing it with water made it not like me, because it tore all over the house trying to keep away from me. And, now that I think about it, why in the world would adults choose cream colored furniture ... and drapes ... and bedspreads and stuff? My parents had all the breakable stuff up high, where my little sister, Suzy, couldn't mess with it. I learned something that day. Cats can jump really high when they're unhappy. How could I have been prepared for that? I'd never been around a cat before! That's probably why I didn't think about the fleas either.
After I got over being grounded for that, I decided to think things through a little more before I did another good deed. A long time went by without me doing anything. They don't make you keep a list of your good deeds, and read it at troop meetings though, so my Scoutmaster, Mr. Timmons, didn't know I wasn't doing anything.
In fact, I didn't try to do another good deed until after I was twelve.
This one was a no brainer. Dad was always washing his car. It was new, and he was real proud of it. I thought about it real hard, and came up with a way to do three good deeds in one ... sort of to try to make up for my inactivity in the good deed arena.
First, the car would be washed. Second, it would save him the money of having to go to the car wash place. And third, I'd let Suzy help me. She was six, and didn't get to do much of anything that looked like it was any fun to me.
I showed her how to spray water all over the car with the hose, doing the driver's side first. She got me wet while I scrubbed, but I didn't care. It was a hot day. But I couldn't keep any of the suds on the car with her spraying water like that, so I told her to go do the other side of the car ... kind of a pre-soak, like. I didn't realize the passenger windows were open until I tried wiping water off the window I was working on, and figured out the water drops were on the inside, instead of the outside.
Well, I got her to stop, and rolled up the windows, so we could finish. I meant to get a towel and dry off the seats, but Suzy got bored of spraying the car, and sprayed the house instead, where there was another window open. My Mom came out and got all upset, and made me turn off the water. She sent me to my room, while she changed Suzy's clothes, and wouldn't let me explain ANYTHING to her, which is why the car sat there for five more hours, in the sun, all wet on the inside, with the windows up.
I got grounded for another month for that one. All for just trying to do a good deed!
Later that summer I was playing in the woods behind our house, about four houses down. It was really just a couple of undeveloped lots, but we called it the woods, because nobody had ever cut any of the trees down. I was practicing with my sling shot. I got it with money from mowing lawns. That's not the kind of thing you ask your parents if you can buy. Parents don't understand how responsible you can be with stuff like sling shots and B-B guns. They just say "NO!"
The little steel ball bearings that worked best cost a lot, but they were worth it, for accuracy purposes. And, if you chose the right target, you could usually find some of them to use over again. That's why I was four houses down. Somebody had left an old sheet of plywood out in the woods, and I had it set up so I could shoot at it. I was real smart and had the top tipped closer to me than the bottom, which meant the balls bounced down, where I could find most of them again. I was pretty good, too. I hit the circle I'd drawn on it maybe eight out of ten shots. That's eighty percent. That's a "B", which was better than I was doing in school.
Now I know you aren't supposed to shoot a slingshot at animals and such. But squirrels are different. Who likes squirrels? And on The Beverly Hillbillies, they even talked about hunting them for food. So, when I saw this squirrel hopping along the fence of the Miller family - they live four doors down - and he hopped into their yard, I went to look. He ran straight to this tree by their patio, and climbed up to where they had this thing nailed to the tree that had a corn cob on it. It was the dried kind of corn cob, where the birds can come and pick the kernels off and eat them, while you watch from inside the house.
And if the squirrel ate the corn, there wouldn't be anything left for the birds, right? And I was pretty good with the slingshot.
Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking patio sliding glass doors and slingshots don't make a good mix. But I thought of that too! Honest, I did! I just meant to scare the stupid squirrel away from the corn cob. I did, too, except that the ball bearing bounced off the tree.
Do you have any idea of how much sliding glass doors cost? I sure didn't. And who in their right mind would actually want to feed a squirrel? I got grounded for two months for that good deed.
I was fourteen before I decided to try it again. The Johansens, across the street, had a dog named Cricket. He was friendly and all, and they left him in the back yard all day so he could run and play and stuff. I went over there sometimes to pet him. I was doing that one day when I saw his water dish was empty. I tried to fill it up with the hose, but I couldn't get any water to come out. Turns out they had this little thing where the hose attaches to the faucet that has a little lever on it to turn the water on and off. I'd never seen one of those before, so I didn't know how to use it. Anyway, Cricket was thirsty - I could tell - so I looked in the garage for something. All I could find was a jug of antifreeze. Well, you put that in the radiator, along with the water, right? So it must be like water, except that it just won't freeze. So I gave her some of that. She liked it too.
Thank goodness I bragged about my good deed to Mom when I got home. I know you aren't supposed to brag about good deeds, but I wanted to show Mom I'd finally gotten it right.
They took Cricket to the vet, and they did whatever was needed to save her. I got an education on anti-freeze. I had plenty of time to research it while I was grounded.
The one I think was the most unfair of all happened later that year, just before I turned sixteen. I was walking along, minding my own business, when I saw a briefcase sitting beside a trash can at the bus stop. Obviously, somebody had gotten on the bus and left it there by accident. I looked inside it, to see if there was an address for the owner. It was full of money! I mean really full of money, in nice neat packets, with little paper bands around them.
So now I had the best of good deeds right in my hands. All I had to do was take it to the police station and turn it in and everybody would be happy with me.
Except that I didn't have to take it to the police. They came to me. There were like ten of them, and they were really mad. First of all, they arrested me. It took a couple of hours to get that sorted out. See, it turned out that somebody was blackmailing the mayor, Mr. Hildebrand. That's all I found out that day, except that the briefcase I had picked up was put there while the police staked it out, to catch the blackmailer when he picked it up. They thought that was me, which was why they arrested me, which was stupid, but they didn't know that then.
The rest of it I learned while I was grounded, and had nothing better to do than surf the internet. See, the reason the mayor was being blackmailed was because somebody had taken some pictures of Trudy Hildebrand, Mrs. Mayor, or whatever you call the mayor's wife. Those turned up on the internet, after the blackmailer saw the police scream in and capture me for picking up the blackmail money. Those pictures were something else. I'd seen something like them before, when I accidentally got porn on the computer. Good Boy Scouts don't look at porn on purpose, but if it happens by accident ... well, you can't do much about that, right?
Anyway, I was surfing around and saw Trudy Hildebrand's name on a file, and when I clicked on it, there she was, sucking on a big, black penis. She's white. So's her husband. Even I knew that wasn't her husband's penis she was slurping on.
The thing that ticks me off so much is that I was trying to do a good deed, and it would have been a good deed, if it hadn't been blackmail money. And besides that, just about everybody agreed later on that it was that picture that brought about better race relations in town. It got everybody to talking about race relations. And it got us a new mayor, which everybody said was a good thing.
But I got in trouble for it.
So, I gave up good deeds. I stayed in Scouts, cause I liked going on overnight camping trips, and I learned a lot. I wish they'd have taught us about the dangers of antifreeze before they did, but they eventually got around to it.
What brought the good deed problem to a head ... OK, another head ... was one of those camping trips. One of the first things you learn in Scouts is about fire safety. Why they call gasoline "Scout Juice" is beyond me, because you are not supposed to use gasoline to light a fire. Of course some kids don't get that lesson the first time they hear it, and one of those kids was Jimmy Sprague. So, when his cook fire wasn't going as well as he thought it should, and I saw him stand over it and tip a can of lantern fuel so it would dribble out and fall on the fire ... and when I saw the fire climb up that dribble and start the can on fire ... well I knew action was needed.
Jimmy yelped and sat the can down on the ground, where it burned merrily from the opening on top. All I could think about was how badly Jimmy would be burned when that can exploded, so I yelled at him to run, and I did some running myself, so I could kick the can hard, and get it as far away from people as possible, so that, when it exploded, nobody would be hurt.
I wasn't thinking about being a hero or anything. It was just a good deed, to imperil myself, to save Jimmy. I was sixteen, by then, and had to set a good example, you know?
I got in a heck of a kick, too, and the can went flying, end-over-end, off into the woods. It splashed on my leg, and set that on fire, which is kind of hard to put out when you're wearing the clothing that's burning. Stopping, dropping and rolling didn't seem to do it, though it did set the leaves on fire that my leg rolled over. I finally slapped it out with my hands. When Mr. Timmons got there, it looked like the whole forest was on fire, but he ordered us to stomp it all out, which only took a few minutes. Then he went over to the can, which was lying on its side, still burning. He reached down, set it upright, and put his foot on the opening.
Damned if that fire didn't just go right out! Who would have believed it?
He couldn't ground me, but he talked about sending me home. I explained about the good deed, and all, and even threw in some of the other ones that hadn't gone so well.
"Bobby?" he said, when I was done. "You're not stupid. So how could you do so many stupid things?"
"I was just trying to do a good turn every day," I said sadly. "Except they never seem to work out."
He looked at me. "Maybe we should try to define a few good deeds for you to try out."
"You mean like walking little old ladies across the street?" I asked. Nobody wanted to do those kinds of good deeds.
He laughed. "Little old ladies don't walk anywhere" he said. "They ride those little scooters nowadays and hit you with a cane if you come too close."
"See?" I complained. "That's what I mean! How's a guy supposed to find a good deed to do?"
He looked at me, a little sadly, I think, and said all I could do was the best I could do. "Hold some doors open for people who are going into buildings," he said. "Or, maybe try carrying somebody's groceries for them," he went on. "But don't drop anything and break it," he added. He was smiling for some reason. "You can't go too wrong with something like that."
Easy for him to say. People go shopping every day, and they carry groceries all over the place, but not when a frustrated Boy Scout is there. They bring them home, and it only takes five minutes to transfer them from the car to the house, so you hardly ever see them doing something like that. You can go months and months without ever seeing anybody trying to carry groceries anywhere.
Well, you could go to the supermarket, where they carry them from the store to the car, but if you try to help them there they get all suspicious and surly. I guess they think you're trying to get money, or steal the groceries or something.
Anyway, I was almost sixteen by the time I got my chance to pull off my very first good deed that didn't go wrong. I was shooting hoops in our driveway when it happened. I had six years of failure behind me, and when I saw Mrs. Wilson struggling to carry two big paper grocery sacks from her sports car to her side door, I just knew my chance had finally come.
I have to say something about Gloria Wilson before I go on. She lived two doors down, and she was the only neighbor on the street who people didn't really think of as "a neighbor". I didn't understand it back then. Back then, she was just this really pretty woman who nobody ever talked to. I knew she was divorced, but that didn't mean anything to me back then. I had no way of knowing that none of the mothers in the neighborhood trusted her, or that a whole slew of the dads jerked off thinking about her.
Maybe I had a sheltered childhood or something. And I'll be the first to admit that my IQ is just average. Now that I'm older, I imagine the women all saw their husbands staring hungrily at Mrs. Wilson, which was why none of them would give her the time of day. And none of the men could actually do anything for her, because of their wives. But I didn't understand that back then. To me, she was just a really good looking woman, who always smiled, though she seldom spoke, and went about her business, whatever that was, without bothering anybody.
Well ... she bothered the men ... and she bothered the heck out of the women ... but like I said, I didn't understand that, back then.
Us kids knew who she was, of course. "That Mrs. Wilson", or "That woman", was what she was usually called, by one of the moms. I usually heard her called that at neighborhood picnics in the park, which were announced by fliers, and which she always attended. She always sat on a blanket by herself, after she went through the line like anybody else did. She always brought pie to those picnics, and her pie tin always went home empty. I was a fan of her pies. Most of the other kids were too. Why the adults didn't ever eat it was beyond me, but that left more for us kids, which was fine with me. My dad got a piece of her pie one time, and it made my mom mad. I didn't understand that either, back then. It wasn't like he took her pie instead of Mom's. Mom always took green bean casserole.
Anyways, I was shooting hoops, and saw her down the street with the bags of groceries, and off I went, a good Scout, on a mission, which I fervently hoped wouldn't end up in some kind of disaster.
I hit a gold mine.
There's no other way to put it. Gloria Johnson, being the pariah that I wasn't aware she was, and not having a man around to be handy, turned out to have more good deeds to be done than you could shake a stick at.
But I'll get to that later. First the groceries.
"Can I help you with those, Ma'am?" I asked courteously. Being courteous is the fifth law of the Boy Scouts. I was panting a little. The Boy Scouts had made me more fit, but I had run pretty fast to get there before she got in the house.
She turned to look at me.
"Bobby ... isn't it?"
"Yes, Ma'am," I answered, politely.
"Well, thank you, Bobby. Yes, you certainly can help me." She grunted as she transferred the two bags in her arms to me.
I've never been so careful of two paper sacks of groceries in my life, even though I had no idea what was in them. She got into her purse and took out her house keys, and opened the door.
"Just put them on the counter," she said. "There's more in the car."
I'd never been in her house before, of course. She didn't have any kids, and about the only houses you went into were those where your friends lived. She owned her own house, which meant she had to be thirty-something, which, to a sixteen year old kid seemed like a lot older than me, but she wasn't so old as to seem like somebody's mother. More like a teacher's age, or something.
I found the kitchen and set the bags down. I even waited to make sure the stuff in them didn't shift, and tip the bag over. I was right proud of myself when I met her at the door. She had two more bags in her arms and, in the shifting of them from her to me, I felt my hands run into something soft. It wasn't until I pulled back, two more bags in my arms, that I noticed it had to be her breasts I had touched.
When you're a sixteen year old male, at least in American society, breasts are a pretty big deal. You don't have any, of course, which is probably why they seem so fascinating. I had been interested in them for several years now. My particular favorites, up to that point in time, were a toss up between the ones on Mandy Templeton's chest, and the Playmate of the Month for September of the previous year. Of course I could look at Miss September's pretty much whenever I wanted to. It wasn't that way with Mandy. I looked at them as often as I could, without getting caught. You had to be circumspect about looking at breasts. Women were kind of touchy about that, it seemed. Even my mom frowned when I looked at hers. She had a pretty nice set too, and even though they were my mom's, they were the only ones around, most of the time, so I looked at them a lot. That's how I found out how impolite it is to stare at a woman's breasts. My mom ... educated me. You can imagine how confusing that was. I mean, Miss September was showing everything she had! Playmates don't seem to mind if you stare at their breasts. I'd always hoped to bump into one of them, just so I could stare without getting in trouble.
Suffice it to say I'd never actually felt one. Not until now. It was quite an experience.
So, when I got caught looking at Mrs. Wilson's, cause of how soft they had felt and all, I expected her to frown too. I stared right at them. She had on a halter top, and there was a lot of breasts to stare at, quite a bit of them uncovered. Then I looked up to see her eyes looking at mine, and she looked down into her cleavage, and then back up to my face, and I expected to get a lecture.
But all she did was smile. "There's two more bags. I'll get them," she said.
One of those bags did tip over, so I kept everything from falling out. I had to take some of it out, and by the time I got the bag sitting up straight again, she was right there, with the others. I was a little sad I hadn't been able to feel her breasts by taking the bags from her, but she set them on the counter before I could.
"There!" she said, like we'd done something important. "Thank you."
"No problem, Ma'am," I said proudly.
I'd finally done it! A good deed that didn't go bad!
"I'm a Boy Scout," I explained proudly. "We do a good deed every day."
"Every day?" Her voice went up a little. She had a kind of musical voice, that was really nice to listen to. I'd never talked to her before.
Boy Scouts also tell the truth. That's the first law: A Scout is trustworthy.
"Well, maybe not every single day," I hedged. "But we try," I tried.
"How sweet!" she said sweetly. "A man who tells the truth."
I blushed. It was obviously a compliment. Usually, when I told the truth, I got in trouble.
She got into her purse and pulled out a five dollar bill. "This is for your trouble," she said.
"Oh, no, Ma'am," I said, holding my hands out, like she was a vampire or something. "I can't take any money for a good deed. That wouldn't be right. I was just trying to be helpful, that's all. Being helpful is the second of the laws of the Scouts."
"Oh?" she asked, pulling the money back, but not putting it away. "What are the other laws?"
I stood up straight, but refrained from putting my hand up in the Scout sign. I thought that might be overdoing it a little.
"A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent," I droned.
"All those things?" she asked, one eyebrow rising a little. I had never paid any attention to a woman's eyebrows before, but hers kind of caught my attention for some reason. She had dark green eyes, with kind of some brown in them too. They looked really big to me right then, for some reason.
"Uh, yes Ma'am," I said, feeling kind of weak for no particular reason.
"Courteous," she said. "Wasn't that one of them?"
"Yes, Ma'am," I answered.
"Well, I know you're trying to be polite, but when you call me 'Ma'am', it makes me feel like an old lady," she said, looking hurt. "You must call me Gloria."
When you're sixteen, you don't call adults by their first name. Not ever, with the possible exception of an uncle or aunt, and then you have to put Uncle or Aunt in front of it.
"I couldn't do that, Ma'am," I said weakly. "That wouldn't be polite."
"Why not?" she asked. "If I don't mind, how could that be discourteous? Didn't you say a Scout is obedient?"
"Yes, Ma'am," I said, feeling like I was in a trap.
"Well, then, you must obey me when I tell you I want you to call me Gloria," she said.
It made perfect sense. I couldn't argue with her about that, even if it flew in the face of an unwritten rule I had always followed.
"Yes, Ma'am," I said automatically.
"Gloria," she said firmly, crossing her arms under her halter top. The naked tops of her breasts kind of bulged upward when she did that, and I stared at them.
"Yes, Gloria," I addressed her breasts.
One long, slim finger came to my chin. I had enough time to see that the nail on that finger was painted bright red before my chin lifted and those green eyes were looking into mine.
"My eyes are up here, tiger," she said, smiling.
"Uh ... yes Ma'am," I croaked.
"Gloria," she said patiently.
"Yes, Gloria," I said weakly.
"You are just a precious young man," she said, smiling.
I had clearly been chastised, but I didn't feel chastised, exactly. It was my first lesson in how people can communicate without always attaching blame or guilt, or something like that to a "correction".
"Sorry," I said.
"How old are you?" she asked.
"sixteen," I answered.
"Well, no wonder," she said, a smile in her voice. "I thought you were sixteen or seventeen. You're a big one, huh?"
I had never thought of myself as a "big one". I mean I knew I was taller than all the other boys my age, and usually stronger too, but that hadn't really made any difference in my life, up to that point in time. If anything, it caused me grief, because people expect bigger kids to make fewer mistakes. I never understood that, but it was true.
I didn't answer. At least I don't think I answered. I can't remember for sure. But she took her finger away from my chin and turned around to start taking stuff out of the bags.
"You want to do another good deed?" she asked.
"Um ... OK," I said. I had one under my belt, and even though I felt kind of strange, another one might be nice too. Maybe I could get a streak going.
"Help me put everything away," she said, handing me a jar of peanut butter.
While she put some things away, she handed me others, or pointed them out, and told me where they went. There was no stress, and it was kind of nice. When we got done she smiled at me.
"I could use a couple of nice young men like you around the house. I'd forgotten how nice it is to have someone to talk to."
We hadn't done a lot of talking, but I wasn't going to argue with her. I'd gotten to watch her walking around the kitchen in that halter top and shorts. She had muscular legs, that reminded me of a cheerleader's legs. She was only about 5'-8" tall, to my six feet, so it wasn't too hard to think of her as a senior or something, even though I knew she was lots older than that. I liked looking at her. Her butt was really round and firm looking.
I know I wasn't supposed to be looking, but how often do you get to be around a woman that age, and check her out?
"No problem, Gloria." I was proud that I had remembered to use her name.
"Well, thank you very much," she said, smiling at me. "Any time you need to do a good deed, just knock on the door. I have lots of things a talented young man like you could do for me."
Now, I know what you're thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter. That wasn't what she was talking about at all.
How do I know?
Easy. I went back.
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