Thursday, March 08, 2007


If someone had trained me in the proper use of tools, such as the Swiss Army Knife, things may have been different. But no one did, and they weren't.

I sucked at the Pinewood Derby.

Royal Ambassadors, or RA's for short, is an organization of the Southern Baptist Convention that is basically Boy Scouts with Bible verses. We met on Wednesdays and (supposedly) talked about God and the bible and missions. We also went camping, fishing, and raced little hunks of wood carved into mini unmotorized motor vehicles down a preassembled track.

(I also was first exposed to pornography at an RA gathering, but that is a WHOLE other post screaming to be written.)

The point of the Pinewood derby was to practice your woodworking skills and to be with your father. I had (and have) a great dad, but he was not a handyman. Ours was the go-to-sporting-events-and-only-talk-about-touchdowns type of father/son relationship, not the let's-spend-quality-time-carving-wood variety.

As a result, I waited until the last minute before telling my RA leader Mr. Butler, who was also my neighbor, that my car wasn't ready. Not only was it not ready, it had not been worked on at all. Just a big piece of wood. He helped me out a little, but it was too late. Every year I was destined to lose.

I learned to soften the blows of losing, (and face it guys, losing at something like that is a gut wrenching event,) by convincing myself that the cars that won were not made by the sons and fathers, but only by the fathers. And, really, this was true. The winning cars were never simple things whittled by a Swiss Army Knife, they were fancy racing machines created with buzz saws and sanders-- tools only an adult can use.

But it's ok, don't feel bad for me. In my recent foray into East Texas I visited a Christian bookstore in Longview. I made two purchases, one of which will be the subject of a future post. The other is a Pinewood Derby patch to be given to finalists. It was only two dollars and I felt like a happy fraud when I walked out the door with it. I'm considering having it sewn on one of my jackets.


Jeanne Damoff said...

I think you should have just showed up with your chunk of wood, placed it on the track, and given it a big push. Then you could have yelled, "Go, Blocky! Go!" It probably would have lodged on the track after a couple of feet, but that would have been even funnier.

Jason said...

I was never an RA (spent those years as a methodist), but I do remember the Pinewood Derby. (Cub Scouts)

My dad and I drilled a hole in the bottom of my car and filled it with fishing weights until it was dead on the maximum weight allowed.

I think we still lost.

I figured you'd have to be creative to work in the swiss army knife. Nice post!

John said...

yeah, i never actually did the derby car either. just stuck the wheels on the block and called it a bus.

"As a royal ambassador i will do my best..." except with pinewood derby cars.

greenISgood said...
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greenISgood said...

What I was saying was that it's ingenious and a hilarious juxtaposition to put "Southern Baptist Convention", "Bible", "Missions", and "pornography" in the same post. Hehehe.

I know. I'm juvenile like that. Peace!

jenA said...

hahaha. my brother did that for RAs, too. I wish we could have done that in GAs. We just got stuck with tye-dying t-shirts.

el mol said...

my dad cheated on my car by putting illegal lead weight in the bottom. we won and I felt the euphoria of both winning and winning by cheating

Craig said...

Great Mitchell, so YOU are the source of my angst.

Craig said...
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ed said...