Red Squirrel’s Indian Summer (Part 2)

Indian GuidesThis is the second part of my Indian Guides story. If you haven’t done so already, you should first read Part One. Go on. You’ll like it. I’ll wait for you. 


I wasn’t sure how I had gotten myself into this situation – or rather I did. It was Tall Oak’s fault.

Tall Oak was Dad’s Indian Guides name. Mine was Red Squirrel. These names conjured up terrible memories: Mind-numbing lectures on Lenae Lenape wedding rituals. Sweaty, aimless hikes in remote woodlands. And the near constant, condescending, passive aggressive drone of our tribe’s chief, Grey Hawk.

Despite accumulating a lifetime’s worth of boredom, anxiety, and irritation during our first year in Indian Guides, Dad had signed us up for a second. The only consolation I could take from this was that Indian Guides was a father/son organization; so, yes, I have to suffer, but Tall Oak would be suffering right along with me.

Adding insult to injury, Dad volunteered to host the very first tribe meeting of the new season. I translated this to mean that a bunch of kids would be tromping through my house touching my stuff. The very idea made me cringe. Even though I had an older sister, we were born seven years apart and our paths rarely crossed. Therefore I was an unofficial only child, and, like many only children, sharing did not come naturally.

Dad, on the other hand…

“Hmmm…” Wearing a thoughtful frown, Dad peered into the fridge. The other members of the tribe would be ringing our bell any minute and he wanted to make sure he was prepared for their arrival. “I probably should’ve gotten more beer. Oh, well,” he shrugged. “It’ll do.”

Indian Guides meetings didn’t normally have beer, but Dad decided to blaze a new trail. Another trail he was blazing was his plan to have nothing – absolutely nothing – prepared for the evening. The Indian Guides host was supposed to have an appropriate Native American-ish activity on hand. As far as I could see, the only activity Dad had in mind involved a fridge full of Budweiser.

Chief Grey Hawk was not going to like this. Not one bit. And when the chief didn’t like something, he lectured and tut-tutted and generally made himself insufferable until everyone present fell into an eye rolling stupor.

The guests soon began to arrive. As each father shrugged out of his coat, Dad threw a can of beer at him at him.

Most were surprised by the projectile, but all of them caught it. All of them also followed up their catches with a paraphrase of “Now this is my kind of meeting!”

Dad laughed every time the line was uttered as if it was the first time he had ever heard it ever. He gave the father and son a hearty handshake and led them to the basement with promises of bottomless bowls of Doritos.

The only brave who didn’t get beered upon his arrival was the chief, who showed up last.

The chief heard the merry commotion wafting up from the basement — booming laughter and an elephant herd of scampering kids. “Everyone is here already?”

“Yeah, they’re here.”

Grey Hawk squinted at his watch. “Am I late?”

“Nope. I suppose the other guys were just eager to get started.”

Everyone is early! The chief beamed. This was clearly evidence that he was a beloved leader. “So, Tall Oak, what do you have planned for this evening?”

“Come on down, I’ll show you.”

What Grey Hawk found was a party. A roomful of dads on their second or third beer and wired kids with their distended cheeks crammed full with chips.

He did not like it. Not one bit.

“You’re serving beer?” Grey Hawk sputtered. “There are children here!”

“Oh, the kids aren’t drinking,” Dad replied. “I have soda for them.”

Before Grey Hawk could work himself into full blown level of insufferability, Dad whispered into my ear.

“Why don’t you take the boys up to the family room and show them that new video game of yours. You know the one: Revenge of the Cars.”

“Yars Revenge?”

“Right. That.”

As one, the young braves and I clumped up the basement stairs. I revved up the Atari 2600 and was soon dazzling my audience with my gamesmanship. The incessant beeps and boops of the TV were interrupted by an occasional raucous shout from the floor below, but we paid it little mind. This was the best Indian Guides meeting we had ever had and we didn’t want to squander it be eavesdropping on adults.

After everyone got his turn at Yars Revenge we switched to Phoenix, then Breakout.

The hollow thunks of the basement stairs alerted us to the fact that someone was coming up to ruin our fun. We turned to find a Grey Hawk seething in the doorway, his face beet red and his eyes little more than two malevolent slits peering through his glasses.

“Eric. Get your coat.”

So that was Grey Hawk’ kid’s name! I only knew him as Red Robin. Red Robin was wielding a joystick pulverizing me in Combat, the one where tanks battle each other with ricochet bullets.

Red Robin — someone I had always thought of as obedient and easygoing — ignored his father’s command. Instead, he viciously send my tank to kingdom come for about the dozenth time.

“Eric. Get your coat. Now.”

Red Robin turned from the game and shot his father a stare far more lethal than anything my tank had endured. I didn’t know he had such anger in him. No wonder Red Robin was so good at Combat, I thought; it was a much-needed outlet for his hostility. If I had Grey Hawk for a dad I’d be hostile, too.

Fortunately, I didn’t have Grey Hawk for a dad. I soon found out I didn’t have Grey Hawk for a chief either. As we boys destroyed our enemies in an imaginary 8-bit universe, our fathers were downstairs destroying a real enemy. An enemy of fun.

Tall Oak, of course, was the leader of this beer-fueled bloodless coup. In gratitude, he was unanimously elected chief. As the tribe cheered his victory, Tall Oak gave me a smile. I couldn’t help but smile back.

Things were about to change.


Tune in next week for the thrilling — or at least potentially amusing — conclusion to Red Squirrel’s Indian Summer!

73 Replies to “Red Squirrel’s Indian Summer (Part 2)”

  1. I picture Graham Greene, the actor as I read this. 😀 😀 Can’t help it and mean no disrespect to anyone.
    So funny. Tall Oak had a plan after all. Great storytelling, Mike. Love every word. Woot woot. I’m cheering for the winning team and the new leader. 😛

    1. I know next to nothing about Graham Greene, so I don’t know if I should feel disrespected or not. Do tell me why you picture Greene and why you feared that I (or somebody) might be offended?

      I must know! I wanna become outraged!

  2. I’ve never heard of Indian Guides. I would have been the kid following the grumpy guide. We used to play Indian when I was a kid.
    My daughter had a Girl Scout Leader who wore a frowny face and ruled with an iron fist. The ironic part? They had such meaningless outings like ceramic painting. I don’t think they ever did anything for the community.

  3. I totally expected the opposite to happen! Your dad had guts and focused on man bonding. What a fun story.
    By the way, was at the library and asked if they announced the winners yet, and they said no.

  4. Oh, my. Your dad sure had a way about him. I bet he was the most popular guy in the basement. But how is he going to lead Indian Guides when he does not like Indian Guide activities? I can’t wait for part three.

    Oh, my sisters are eight and eleven years older than me, so I understand your only child bit. But then my parents blew it by having two more kids, boys. So I was the middle child and the oldest of the new group, plus the youngest girl. You can imagine how messed up that it was.

    1. Five kids! That’s too many. My parents were big believers in zero population growth. So two kids and no more.

      I support their philosophy; so when my sister had three kids, I decided to go with one — for balance in the universe.

    1. Alex and I are not in Indian Guides (or Adventure Guides as they are now named) but if we were I would promise bottomless bowls of Doritos.

      In other words, my Dad and I have similar management styles.

  5. Oh dear, the beer/Dorito coup was successful. Now, what is Chief Tall Oak’s plan for the Guides? Something Indianish, I hope. I’ll be waiting for next week’s exciting conclusion to the saga. 🙂

  6. I’ll bet the Indian princesses show up next… my neighbor was an Indian Princess, much more glamorous than being a Brownie like I was…
    How did they choose your name, Red Squirrel? And another child was Red Robin? Were you color-coded for some reason?
    Oh, and I read the first part, but am too lazy to leave two comments. 🙂

    1. There were Indian Princesses? Cool! I never knew that! Did they camp and do scout-ish stuff, too?

      I have no idea how I got the name Red Squirrel. I never had red hair and only gray squirrels and indigenous to my area. I think the naming process was along the lines of “Here’s a type of animal. That’s your name now.”

      And shame on you for your absence of comments, Nurse Kelly! Your comments fascinate me! How else would I know that your Christmas trees repeatedly fall over? And that you leave rotting fruit in your basement to keep the bugs (and evil spirits?) away? And that your grandmother walked around with thimbles permanently affixed to her fingers? I LIVE for this stuff!

      1. Ahem. Get with the program, Red Squirrel! Indian Princesses were the Y’s counterpart to Indian Guides! Don’t you remember seeing girls with their dads at the pow wows? Or maybe you were prepubescent at the time and didn’t notice such things! That must be it!
        I really did envy my neighbor friend though, who was an Indian Princess… she got a cool name like you and wore a pretty feather headdress and made cool stuff like dream catchers and corn calendars.
        But I was in kind of a lame Brownie troop… and we never did go camping… I even had a mess kit. For some reason, the leader was all fascinated with whales and made us watch a whale documentary once. Very strange, now that I think about it! Why do you bring out such weirdness in me?!
        Guess you can add that sad story to the rest of them now… and don’t worry there are plenty more 🙂

      2. Sadly, I have no recollection of meeting up with any princesses. If I had, I’m sure my memories of the Guides would’ve been more pleasant.

        Whale doc. Got it. I’ll add it to the list…

        On a sort-of-related note: If you could’ve been an Indian Princess instead of a Brownie, what name would you have given yourself?

      3. Hmmm… let’s see… there’s Dancing Dove or Butterfly Rain or perhaps Waiting Moon… but not Dimming Moon, mind you, because that has a bit of a stupidity reference, dontcha think?! lol
        I don’t know, but I’m sure every boy and girl who had an “Indian” name, never forgets them! If there is a poetic sounding name for one who spews strange stories, I guess that would be mine! Haha!

      4. Oh no, Red Squirrel – must have “Princess” in it somehow… you will have to do better than that!
        Have you seen the movie “Moonrise Kingdom” with Ed Norton and Bruce Willis and Bill Murray? Talking about scouting and such reminded me of that movie. It’s set in 1965 about a scout troop. It’s kind of out there – which is why I liked it!

      5. Much better! Love the thimble reference! I can only hope I don’t end up with thimbles on my fingers someday… not a family trait I wish to carry on! 🙂

      1. These stories are being compiled into a memoir aren’t they? Something like, “Ramblings of a Former Red Squirrel” or “Just the Facts, Man” or “No Cats Allowed–of Mice and a Man”

      1. Speaking of moose, it returned and demolished my tulips…again. I frightened my students with my hysterics. Or was that they were hysterically laughing due to my scolding of “bad moose” to frighten the moose. The moose did leave–only after eating ALL my tulips.

      2. You’re right–they are wiggly, not squirmy.
        BtW: that was waaay too cute. How does one find these kind of videos? Better question: why are you searching YouTube for cute bunny vids? Shouldn’t you be editing your memoirs?

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