Column: Secret childhood organization never really had a chance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The He-Man Woman Hater’s Club.

We liked the Little Rascals.

We watched the episode at Larry’s house. It starred Spanky McFarland and Alfalfa Switzer. They had formed the He-Man Woman Haters Club. That club had a rocky road thanks to a girl named Darla and her dazzling smile.

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One of us &045; it might have been me &045; suggested that we ought to form a Men’s Club. It was quickly agreed upon by the other boys that we would form the secret society.

We formed a tight little secret organization whose members would be known far and wide as bastions of loyalty, wisdom and unquestionable bravery.

We would share those things and the hatred of girls.

We weren’t completely sure why we should hate girls, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

After all, it was a well-documented scientific fact that girls had cooties and were noted tattletales. That might not have been the truth, but we couldn’t handle the truth.

The Men’s Club headquarters was promptly located in an abandoned brooder house. It was a building that once housed baby chicks.

The chicks were gone and we wanted to keep the chicks out, so we put up a sign reading, “No Girls Allowed” on the wall of the brooder house. The sign was a thing of beauty.

It was written in dripping white paint on a broken cottonwood board.

We were loyal, brave and wise, but that wasn’t enough. We needed a secret and complicated handshake.

We quickly came up with a secret handshake. It was a simple handshake. We found that complicated handshakes were much too complicated for us. Each member would spit into the palm of his right hand before shaking another saliva-filled hand.Once the vital handshake had been decided on, we practiced it until we had perfected the procedure.

Some may think of such an exercise as disgusting, but we preferred to think of it as a show of intellect. It was likely the demonstration of low intellect. We found that a side-benefit to the handshake was that it was an easy and painless way to wash our hands. The washing of the hands was a ceremony that the boys in my set ignored whenever possible.

The handshake out of the way, we proceeded to the establishment of initiation rites. As a secret society, we decided that there needed to be some initiation rites involved. One of the boys had an uncle who was a member of a fraternal organization that required initiation rites. He told his nephew that the initiation rites kept the riff-raff out.

We weren’t exactly sure what riff-raff was and more than one of us worried that we might be riff-raff, but it was unanimously agreed that we needed to keep the riff-raff out.

There was a long and spirited discussion as to appropriate initiation rites.

Nobody wanted to do the blood brother thing again. We’d all been there and done that. That process involved slicing a finger with a large, sharp knife and then pressing your sliced finger against a similar digit of a proposed blood brother. The commingling of blood made for blood brothers.

We had discovered that in our group, this endeavor not only made for blood brothers; it produced light-headedness, fainting and vomiting as well.

So the whole blood brother thing was shelved. We needed something exceedingly cool to keep the riff-raff out.

Maybe we could sleep all night in the woods without a tent or even a sleeping bag?

Sleep? There were things that go bump in the night in the woods. Those things didn’t bother us so much as the mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls did. The thought of being sucked dry by mutant skeeters caused us to dump this idea.

Someone suggested &045; it definitely wasn’t me &045; that the rites of initiation should include a fight with Monster McGurk. This would be a fine test of courage, but was dismissed as lunacy.

McGurk was a monster. There would be few survivors. We knew how our fathers felt about hospital bills. Most of us had not yet been completely paid for.

Another suggestion was the requirement that each prospective member eat a live cricket. You couldn’t just toss it down either. The cricket had to be chewed at least 22 times.

This idea was dropped when several members declared a cricket allergy.

I suggested that our initiation rites should consist of breathing air and drinking water.

Our initiation rites stunk. So did the brooder house.

The Men’s Club disbanded after one meeting.

It was just as well.

We liked girls.

(Hartland resident Al Batt writes a column for the Tribune each Wednesday and Sunday.)