For those who actually read about my Eagle Project Disaster, this is a story about my music merit badge experience that probably should have clued me into the emotional root canal that would be the rest of my Scouting experience.
First, for someone who isn't brimming with love for the outdoors, the traditional merit badges can be difficult. Don't get me wrong, I love me some camping. I just don't want to spend 15 hours hiking into some remote backwoods location where no one can hear you scream.
I'm all about convenience camping. As a result, some of the bark-eating, latrine-digging, bear-proofing requirements in Scouts didn't exactly make me jump for joy.
It was during a particularly low point, that I thought I would take a break and do an "easy" merit badge ... one that dealt with a topic in which I was actually interested. I thought it might reignite a fire under me (unlike my futile efforts with flint and steel).
I love music. Good music. Music that makes me think about deep stuff. Music that makes me happy.
So, I found the Music merit badge, and thought it was a sign that even nerdy, awkward boys like me have a place in the Scouting program.
Because I had recently moved, I had no friends, so I threw all my attention at this stupid merit badge. It was like one of those guys who love wearing Hawaiian shirts. If left unchecked, the infection can spread until his entire house resembles the Tiki Room at Disneyland.
So, I went overboard.
Exhibit A: One of the requirements was to make up an 8-measure melody line. Now, 8 measures isn't that long. I decided to write a song to play on the piano with both hands, not just a melody line. In the end it was somewhere around 65 measures, and I was pretty proud.
After finishing all the other requirements, I made an appointment and went to the merit badge counselor's house. He asked me to play my song, and I confidently swaggered up to the piano. When I finished, I turned around with a big grin on my face, expecting him to be wiping a tear out of his eye, telling me I was the son he never had and offering to put gold plating on the merit badge patch once I received it. Instead, this is what I got:
"Oh Nathan ... (as he slowly shook his head) ... You can do better than that."
I was devastated. On top of that, he decided to give me homework (beyond the requirements in the book) and had me take a bunch of his classical CDs home to memorize the names of the songs from various composers for a quiz he would administer during our next appointment.
So much for rekindling my love (translate: marginal acceptance) of Scouting. It looks like I'm about as good with potentially interesting merit badges as I am with flint and steel.
(In case you're wondering, I did get the merit badge in the end.)