Oct/Nov 2004  •   Spotlight

Troop 345, More or Less

by Donna McDougle

Put the food groups in a basket. It won't matter yet what kind of basket. Willow, wicker, tin. Whatever. This is only practice.

A fish, a loaf, a cheese, a bottle. The wine should be red and the cheese un-American (perhaps Swiss or French or Greek). The bread, too, should be un-American. And the wine. But any fish will do. There are no rules when it comes to the fishes, except that they must have slept deep and have xx's where their eyes used to be and must, at some point, have been surrounded by men in gone-to-ruin Italian Suits (hand-tailored) whose Guccis are embedded in concrete. If the fish holds in its belly, once the belly is sliced, any of the following (to wit):

a. A too large diamond ring
b. Antipasto
c. Traveler's checks

...so much the better.

Put the food groups in a basket. A Yogi Bear pic-a-nic basket. This is not a drill. Avoid the Ranger and El Kabong. Gump the basket to the heart of the forest. Gump long and far and when you have gumped as far as you can, step back three long paces. There will be a stone—flat and sunbaked and covered in lichen Under the lichen will be carvings, oriental in nature. Polynesian. Whatever. Do not attempt to decipher these marks. You are not alone. The eyes of Troop 345 are watching.

Set down the basket and put your hands to the small of your back. Twist first to the left and then to the right. Make those small cracking sounds down the length of your spine. Lift your arms over your head and yawn. Yawn big, in a circle. Count the eyes on either side while you're yawning. Quickly. Through slitted lids. Divide by two. If the sum is greater than twelve, pick up the pic-a-nic basket and move casually forward. Hum or whistle something inane and/or tuneless. Roll your eyes and swing your arms. Let the notes fall where they will and do not—repeat Do Not—carry a tune. Only the basket. At some point, you will be somewhere. Await further instructions there.

If the sum is twelve or less, have lunch.