Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What the Hell?!? Friday -- Of Boys and Hygiene

An off-line (well, on-line, actually?!?) conversation with Cate (you can call her Cate) of SWS fame got me thinking about my long-ago experience as a Webelos leader.  This started when my son was eight, and joined the Cub Scouts.  I helped coach softball, which is a hoot, 'cause I'm less athletic than the average trombonist.  But, I also became the Webelos leader, since the Pack needed one (and it's easy to talk me into things) with a meeting at my house on Wednesday evenings.  This went on for four years - my house infested with invaded by 11-year-old boys, until my son passed through Webelos, and we moved on to Boy Scouts.

As a result of this ordeal  experience, I know a lot about 11-year-old boys.  The path from cute little baby boy to grown man is long, twisting, and full of pot holes.  One of the deepest and muddiest of these is age 11.  A typical 11-year-old boy is only marginally human, and not at all civilized.   In the absence of diligent parental supervision, he will happily spend that entire year in a cave with a colony of toads, never brushing his teeth, combing his hair, taking a bath, or changing his socks.   I have a clear recollection from my own checkered youth of being sent to wash my hands before dinner one day.  They were literally covered in dirt on all sides.  I carefully washed the palms of my hands, since those are the parts you use to hold the bread and utensils.  I was really quite exasperated with my father when he sent me back with explicit instructions to wash all surfaces of both hands.

I genuinely didn't get it.

This 11-itis-hood is a wonderful, primal, enigmatically feral time of life, if you can avoid major infections.  But, alas, all good things must end.  For many boys, this primitive, idyllic quasi-nirvana pops with the suddenness of a lightning-strike, on the day that they discover GIRLS.  The transformation is a wonder to behold.

It goes more or less like this, usually some time between ages 12 and 30:

Tuesday evening: GIRLS discovered.  In this epiphany, they are revealed as something not yuckie and disgusting, to be avoided at all costs. Frex:
They smell good.
They look . . . interesting.
Their voices - what is it about their voices?
They're -- soft.   Well, probably, I imagine, don't ya think?
When did THEY change?

Wednesday morning (after a night of disturbing, incomprehensible dreams):
Bath taken, hair combed, teeth brushed, fresh underwear and socks donned.
Mirror looked into, for maybe the first time ever.

Several days later: Question pondered:
"Is it worth the trouble of shining my shoes?"
The first of many moral dilemmas.

The actual timing of this metamorphosis is deeply personal.  Possible spectrum runs from as early as eight (very rare) to never. (Unfortunately, not so rare.)

And, as Howard Hughes so capably demonstrated, considerable backsliding is possible at any later phase of life.  This may be why wives are important.

A note on Fate:
Early bloomers can become metrosexuals
Late bloomers can become math or science teachers.

Some are immune.  For the most part, they become chemists and/or engineers.



Call Me Cate said...

Well-played. My husband's SIL teaches 5th grade and she completely corroborates your findings.

I work in the IT field and I think a lot of those types are also immune.

Jazzbumpa said...

Oh yeah. Chemistry is for guys not geeky enough to go into IT.


Marisa said...

You really nailed the developmental process of the 11 year old boy. I enjoyed reading your post very much.

Have a great day!