Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pinwood Derby: 20 years in review

It says 3rd Place, Best Effort

When I was 8, my mom got the idea that it would do me good to enlist me in the quasi-military institution known at the cub scouts. I remember a few things about this period in my life:

* My troop leader had a blonde moustache.
* The other kids were all catholics and often reminded me that they disliked me, unsolicited.
* I had a horrible pinewood derby experience.

For those of you who don't know, The pinewood derby is a contest of crafstmanship, creativity, and fair play where children are handed a block of wood and four wheels, and are asked to create awesome cars which are raced against each other on a downhill slotted track. I wish I still had my old car. It was a testament to a child who obviously had no idea what he was doing, and definitely didn't have any help from his parents. I cut out notches from the wood block, and drew the number 7 on either side (for luck) and two wobbly stripes down the center on raw unsanded wood with worn out markers. Ok I'll fast-forward through the story. We all got trophies for one thing or another. I still have my "Third Place, Best Effort" trophy on my mantle. I display it as a badge of honor, like a battle scar. It was a huge failure that really changed my life, maybe for the better. Who knows. All I can say is that the story scores me huge pity points with the ladies. Pity is underrated.

I have re-visited this experience a couple of times in my life. I live around the corner from the park where the races were held and where my scout troop met each week. In art school, I did an art project where I built some new cars, portraying my scout troop experiencing horrible tortures and deaths, burning in hell with the motto "Be Prepared" written on it in flaming letters. But when Art Prostitute invited me to create a car for their exhibition at the Scion Space being held this Saturday, I saw it as a chance to redeem myself, to cleanse myself of all these bad feelings, to truly grow and learn from the experience in the way it was meant, and to win this thing.

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