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Friday, January 18, 2008

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Derby Day

Few events on our family calendar carry dramatic tension like the annual cub scout Pinewood Derby. Untangling the Christmas lights may run a close second, but that's more of a solo performance by my husband, whereas the derby is an ensemble piece.

This year, we had a new cub in the pit crew. Double the fun.

Here is Team Pittman just moments before the race.

Can you feel the anticipation? No? Can you hear my yelling at the children to SETTLE DOWN OR I SWEAR TO GOD WE'RE GOING HOME RIGHT NOW? That's why. This picture was snapped moments after a mob of running, shrieking derby contestants and their belligerent hanger-on formed a stampede in which one of them got run over.

Yes, three boys can be a mob. Next year, I am bringing a Taser.

Anyway, we all recovered our composure and team spirit, and managed to have a good time.

If you've never attended a Pinewood Derby, you have no idea how elaborate and high-tech a set up it is. There was a special aluminum track with photosensors at the finish line. There were serious looking officials with laptop computers tabulating results. There were sound effects. There was bad eighties music.

I almost flashed my breasts.

We raced honorably. Both boys' cars had consistent second place finishes throughout most rounds. To my Beta Male progeny, this was thrilling. "We're number two! We're number two!" we chanted.

I texted updates to Patrick, who was home catching up on work after spending the previous day in the traditional eleventh hour pinewood car assembly line.

I hope they get a trophy, he texted back. I had hoped so, too, but in the final tally we came home with participant medals. My eldest, slightly alpha son, plotted all the way home how to have a car next year that could compete in all four categories for speed, creativity, patriotism and most unusual.

In the meantime, here's this year's fleet:



Blogger cce said...

Oh God, I'm having flashbacks to last year's Pinewood Derby where we had a paltry showing of fourth. I thank my lucky stars that my O decided to sit out Boy Scouts this much pressure.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I've never heard of this circle of hell. Do the Canuck Boy Scouts do this too? Is this something I'm going to have to pay an uncle or possibly brother to help with since my husband is about as handy as a cactus?

10:44 AM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

I had never heard of this until a friend of mine was telling me about it since his boys are in cub scouts as well. This is some very serious business from what I understand. I had no clue it was this popular.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Jonivan said...

This was the funniest post of yours that I can remember reading! I laughed out loud just now! (spelled because i hate e-cronyms) Tasers! The breast flashing! (thats weird of me to say because we are related but damn it thats funny) Sounds like a good time! ha.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Jonivan said...

...And your youngest was holding a leaf!

2:29 PM  
Blogger lenniekat said...

My dad and I each made a car for racing back in the early '80s -- was I a girl scout then? I can't remember... I can remember, however, the good spirit of the race, the teamwork my dad and I shared in making our racers, and the way the race transformed my dad to age 9. Dad and I both still have our cars from that one race. Funny, huh?

8:34 PM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

I have been through the derby experience too, with both my boys. My oldest insisted on designing his own car, and I am not much of a woodworker, so the finished product was quite crude in appearance... an ungainly stump compared to the other streamlined vipers. But at the weigh-in, the official - apparently taking pity on us - told us it was considerably under-weight and could use a few extra grams. Another dad gave me a piece of lead, which I tacked onto the top of the car - man, was it ever ugly! But it was heavy now, just one gram short of the limit, and it screamed down that track like a shot. It won almost every race, the ugly duckling that became the swan, and we ascended to the provincial finals. Our homely car drew many curious looks - and even pitying smiles from some of the pro's - but they took the car seriously when the races began. It was fast! Alas, we didn't win... but it was such fun.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...

Aww, the baby's holding up his leaf for the photo! Such a sweet boy.

I've heard pinewood derby tales of some dads hiring machinists to make the cars super-fast. That doesn't seem fair!

Geoff, what a cool story!

10:30 AM  
Blogger Ron Davison said...

Like Susanne, I loved the leaf. And why not? Raw material - sort of - for the other tree product turned into car, like an advertisement for going green. I still remember our son, so dejected, holding the car his professional artist uncle made - a bit of odd art that was completely lost on this 8 year old.

6:50 PM  
Blogger J Pyron said...

Loved this recap of one of the most hellish weekends we've had in a long time. My son is in Den 7 as a Wolf, so we were right behind you trying to take the whole thing seriously. My husband and I are not scout people, so the fact that our son now loves this activity is beyond us. I'm sure that will draw the ire of many a former or current scoutmaster, but so be it!

9:01 AM  

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