Jim Holtz column – No name calling rule tested by American cousin

Holtz reminisces about his younger days and the (in)famous Tarzan Club and a visit from a distant relative.

The ongoing kerfuffle in down south featuring the president and his fellow liberal Democrats versus the right wing Republicans reminds me of a spat I had years ago with my somewhat thick-headed American cousin, Harlan Sculpepper, over his membership in the Tarzan Club.

That was the club my buddies Bob, David and Howard and I created when we were eight. When Harlan and his mother, my mother’s older sister, came up from Idaho to visit, he naturally wanted to join our club.

Who wouldn’t? I had doubts about letting him in because I knew that he could be stubborn, nasty and was not, as my older brother liked to say, the brightest candle on the cake.

Still he had a Red Ryder BB gun that he liked to carry around and since none of us were allowed to have a BB gun let alone carry one around, we let him join, hoping he would let us shoot it.

Of course, he refused to let us even hold it, citing his father’s credo that “a real man don’t let nobody touch his gun, drive his truck, or beat his dog.”

Once Harlan was voted in, the problems began. First, he didn’t want to pay the 25-cent initiation fee saying that it was an unfair tax. Nor did he want to pay the 10-cent per week dues for the same reason.

When we tried to explain that both assessments were what enabled us to go once a month to the A and W for a root beer and a hamburger he said that he might agree on one condition, that we eliminate rule six in the Tarzan Club Official Rules: “No name calling.”

My mother happened to overhear this in the kitchen and stepped out the back door to intervene. The No Name Calling rule had been her idea after listening to my older brother and me relentlessly lambasting each other with various inappropriate labels.

Harlan said that the rule was an infringement on his constitutional right to free speech. My mother tried to point out that maintaining the rule which had already been unanimously passed by the four original Tarzans was really in Harlan’s interest since he had access to only one inappropriate name and the rest of us could fire off dozens at him (Harlan could only remember one bad name: “Dodo brain.”).

Plus, since he had just joined the club, he would profit from the already accumulated dues the next time we went to A and W. Harlan wasn’t convinced. His school in Idaho had just re-enacted the Boston Tea Party incident and he said that taxation without representation was the work of the devil.

In protest he took three packages of Kool Aid we had in the club house (we didn’t have any tea) and poured them into nearby Skunk Creek.

My friends and I wanted to throw Harlan out of the club, but frankly, were a little afraid of him. After all, he was bigger than we were and had that BB gun. Fortunately, my mother said that she had a veto over all our decisions and vetoed our original vote to make him a member.

That same evening my aunt whacked him in the back of the head as well, muttering that his daddy was an idiot. They went back to Idaho eventually, and the Tarzans went happily on their way for two more years, until Howard wanted us to change rule one:”Boys Only” and accept Becky Wimpleman as a member.

That was a change not even the mighty Tarzans could survive.

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