The Boy Scout car washes were actually a lot more fun, partly because I knew what we were raising the money for, but also because, well, we just had a lot more freedom to spray each other with hoses and dump buckets of soapy water over each other and throw sponges. The church parking lot where we held the car washes was on a corner with a crosswalk. One or two lucky guys would get the job of standing on the corner holding up signs and trying to convince drivers to pull in and get their cars cleaned. I pointed out to my fellow Scouts that there was a "Press for walk signal" button on the corner which we could use to make the lights change and stop cars. I thought it was one of those stupidly obvious things but my fellow Scouts thought that was a hilarious idea.
One time an 18-wheeler pulled into the parking lot and the driver gave us twenty-five bucks to go the best job we could which wasn't much but we had fun trying anyway. The only downside of that was he didn't invite us into the cab to have a look around, probably because we were all wet and soapy. And maybe he had some things in there he didn't want us to see. Just because we were Boy Scouts didn't make us completely innocent, though. One night the troop came to my parents' house for some reason and they all noticed the herb garden on our hippie neighbor's deck. And they all recognized that particular five-leaved herb that he was growing. I'm probably making it sound like I lived in the sort of pretty bad neighborhood where "mother" was only half a word, but it really was a nice suburb. It's just that every suburb, no matter how nice, has its seedy underside.
The Boy Scout troop had its seedy underside too and one really bad seed was Kevin. I was in Boy Scouts from the age of seven when I started Cub Scouts all the way through the age of eighteen when I earned my Eagle and I stuck around for a couple of years after that as an assistant Scoutmaster and Kevin was the only kid I ever knew who got kicked out of a Scout troop.
I heard stories from friends in another troop that he was about to be kicked out of their troop but his grandparents, whom he lived with, pulled him out and put him in ours before that could happen. And I overheard some conversations between the adults that Kevin was a kid to watch out for, and not in a good way. If any money disappeared, they said, start the search with Kevin.
One Saturday when we were holding a car wash my mother was one of the adults there helping supervise us and making sure we only used the hoses for spraying cars and each other since the one time we'd used them to wrap up one of the younger kids it ended up being hard to get him back out again in spite of our combined experience with knots. My mother also had the keys to the church in case anybody needed to go the bathroom, although Kevin convinced her he also needed to use the phone. His story was that he needed to call some of our fellow Scouts who weren't there and remind them about the car wash.
If you're under a certain age then I think I should explain that there was a time before cell phones, when we relied on land lines only we didn't call them "land lines" because that's all we had.
My mother stood and watched Kevin dial but she didn't notice that he dialed a few extra numbers. She did think he spent an unusually long time waiting for whoever he was calling to pick up. She eventually pulled the phone out of his hand in spite of his insistently saying, "It's still ringing!"
It wasn't ringing. I'm still not sure what he was listening to but my mother found out he wasn't calling any Boy Scouts when the church secretary showed her the phone bill.
If you're under a certain age I may need to explain what a 1-900 number was. You could call and for some fee--I remember a lot of them being advertised as "just" 75 cents a minute although I think there was also a fee just for calling--you could listen to something. Some had sports information, some were fortune tellers, but most were, well, graphic--internet porn for the blind, I guess. Some claimed you could talk to a real woman, usually pictured lounging around her bed in lingerie, but I guess the one Kevin called was a prerecorded message. I never called one myself so I have absolutely no idea what he heard, and since my mother was right there I know he didn't do any talking.
He'd be kicked out for that and moved on to another Scout troop where the leaders were thoroughly warned about what he was capable of. I still wonder sometimes what became of him, but mostly, when I see an amateur car wash being advertised, I wonder what seedy underside it hides.