I’ll never forget it. It was 32 yrs ago, and I was in the Boy Scouts of America, and I was a red head, and, and I was a frightened little kid. Now, just thinking about it I am frightened, I am a frightened big kid. Much of my red hair, well, I’d have to say it is now more like a rust and dull and silver mélange than a bright strawberry blonde, as it was. Frankly, I didn’t really like the others saying I wore strawberry blonde hair, anyway. It was like they were calling me a sissy. But, on this adventure I was off scouting around this Caspian village. I guess I am, and always have been, proof that curiosity does not kill the cat (It just labels you as a mischievous red head). I think that was just a phrase made up to keep nosy Boy Scouts of America in line and out of mischief. I am also living proof that nosy Boy Scouts will manage to get into the oddest, most memorable of situations. The Scout master, just a kid himself, surely thought to himself, “Where could that damned red head kid have gone?” There were 20, maybe 30 of us on 3 horse carts. No, 26 of us. Twenty-six was a number that was practically seared into us, tattooed, branded. The leaders thought it would be lots of fun. They may have well fastened us to anything that didn’t move. By the end of it all, we had practically learned to count to 26, a million different ways. And, to this day, it sounds great—in theory but it all went wrong, really wrong somewhere early on. I remember our 3 horse carts rolling along. We were in North Western Iran and had taken a long hot bus ride to the Caspian area. Twenty-six kids, on a bus in northern Iran? I deserve a gold medal, something really memorable. Well, instead, I wish that the whole thing had never happened. Surely, it wasn’t just the fault of that kid with the strawberry hair. But, I would have thought that the kid would be more like a beacon, a lighthouse than some loosed-in-the-night, stranded vessel. Three carts, chugging along from Iran toward the U.S.S.R. at a break neck pace of no more than 4 miles per hour? It wasn’t surprising that some of the kids had to pee. After all, that is one of the things they do best. Carve stuff and pee. They should give out peeing merit badges! You can tell that even recalling the adventure “pisses” me off. There were 3 carts, 26 of us in all. When one gets out to pee, several others find need to do the same. At least 3 from each cart decided they had to go. At least, they decided they had to go again, because the boys had just had a pee break 30 minutes earlier. All the kids who had hopped off to relieve themselves had been accounted for, or so they thought. Nobody remembers having seen Andy, the strawberry haired kid from Texas and that blond kid from Florida, for a while. Both was a quiet kids. They had surely loosed us in that village. We had some sugar tea and treats that the kids all really loved. The scouts were fascinated with these friendlier than friendly Azerbaijani families. Some of the men saw this as a chance to get a chance marry their daughters off and see that they had a better future. The villagers saw this as a way to show case everything they had. Ed had not realized yet that the two were missing, yet. The boys had planned on an overnight in the village and heading north a bit before returning to their camp in the Alborz Moutains north of Tehran. That strawberry blonde kid? He was my identical twin. He was my identical twin, and we never saw him again. I get sick thinking of it and am off to Tehran, again in May. Our family only brings out pictures of my twin on special occasions.
Birds of a feather don’t always stick together