The Wonder Years (2021) s01e06 Episode Script

Be Prepared

1 ADULT DEAN: Growing up in the '60s, I was surrounded by images of the ideal middle-class, suburban life, and I wanted nothing more than to have my own big, fat slice of that American pie.
Can you blame me? Those smiling white people made happiness and prosperity look so damn appealing.
It only seemed fair if other families got to have these cool, middle-class experiences, who said mine couldn't, too? Hey, Dad.
Can we go to the beach? Sharks.
My dad.
That's who.
Hey, Dad, can we rent a cabin in the woods? Bears.
Hey, Dad, can we get a dog? Fleas.
But I was not going to give up that easily.
I was on a mission to find my own version of the suburban middle-class dream, one my dad couldn't possibly say no to.
And I got this one for archery, and this one was for canoeing.
- What's that one for? - Camping.
We went on this super cool trip to the state park.
We didn't shower or brush our teeth for two whole days.
- Cool! - Whoa! Yeah.
And I chopped down a tree with a hatchet by myself.
Oh, man.
The Dixie Scouts.
Of course! It had everything the great outdoors, terrible hygiene, and the unsupervised use of a lethal weapon.
Couldn't get more all-American than that.
Hey, Brad.
Cool uniform.
And it appears the ladies love a man in uniform.
That clinched it.
Is my sink done leaking? Yep.
Third time's the charm.
- I think you mean the fifth.
- [Door closes.]
Hey, Dad.
Can I join my friend Brad's Dixie Scout troop? The Dixie Scouts? So you want to join the white troop? Or as I call them, the junior Klan.
No, but, Dad, it's not like that.
Brad's father is the Scoutmaster.
I'm sorry, did you say Scoutmaster? The man in charge is called "master"? Listen to yourself, son.
But, Dad, all my other friends are doing it.
Yeah, your white friends.
I'm not letting you join in with those East Montgomery boys.
Well, what's the harm in it, Bill? Well, for starters, I don't like how the white Scouts stole all their rituals from African tribal rites of passage.
My dad was of the opinion that if there was something of value in American culture, it was definitely stolen from Black people.
["Ed Sullivan Show" playing.]
Elvis Presley? Ha! Everything he does, Big Mama Thornton did first except better.
Coca-Cola? [Scoffs.]
They'd be nowhere if Africans hadn't domesticated the kola nut.
Santa Claus? You know the real Saint Nicholas was a black Moor.
Are you sure about that, Bill? I thought the Scouts got their rituals from the Native Americans.
And where do you think they got it from? I shouldn't have been surprised that my Dad didn't want me joining Brad's troop.
Like a lot of men from his generation, he didn't think we needed to mix with white people to have a better life.
But that didn't change the fact that I really wanted this.
Lucky for me, my mom was there to save the day.
Well, you want to be a Scout, you can join the troop your brother belonged to.
That's right.
We got a perfectly good troop right in our own neighborhood a Black troop.
I forgot all about it.
Yeah, I'm not surprised.
You were on the road with your band back then, and I used to take Bruce to all his meetings.
Well, I'm here now, so I'll take Dean, get him signed up.
You don't have to worry your pretty little head about a thing.
Ask for Deacon Loren at the church.
He's the troop leader.
Now you don't have to worry about one little thing.
[Water dripping.]
Let's go, Dean.
[Door opens.]
Oh, oh, oh and I know Ohh Through the highs and the lows I'mma find my way home Sorry, men.
Troop 24 is no more.
- BILL: How come? - We had to shut it down when the older boys got drafted to Vietnam to fight.
Guess I did too good a job teaching those boys how to run through the woods and shoot.
Well, my friend Cory and a few others would like to be Scouts.
Maybe we could start it up again? No, not with me.
I'm too old to be sleeping out there on that hard ground, and eating all of those weenies and beans out of a can gave me the gout.
Well, son, we tried.
- Dad, you could do it! - Wait, what? Yeah, you could be the Scoutmast Scout leader.
You already know a lot about it, like how the Scouts stole all their ideas from Africa.
Is that so, Bill? I didn't know that, and I was a Scout for 40 years.
True, I'm acquainted with the history, but you know how busy I am with the college and the band.
Don't worry.
You'll figure it out.
You're good at everything.
Welcome to the Scouts, Bill.
Look, Ma.
Bruce's old uniform fits like a glove.
Well, it fit about as well as Bruce's old baseball glove, which I had to attach to my arm with duct tape to keep from falling off.
Mm, it looks good, but it's gonna look even better after I take it in.
- Or cut it in half.
- [Chuckles.]
Can't wait to fill this baby up with merit badges.
So which one should we do first, Dad? "We"? Yeah, Dad's taking over as troop leader.
- You? - Yeah, me.
Where are you gonna find the time to run a Scout troop? Well, I thought maybe you could help me out with the paperwork and making snacks and maybe lead a few meetings if I have band practice.
Where am I gonna find the time for you to run a Scout troop? Looks like somebody's not getting her Kissing badge.
Dad's gonna be a great leader.
He's smart.
He can figure out anything.
Oh, you're right about that.
Your dad is the smartest man I ever met.
And what I don't know is all explained right here in the book.
I couldn't wait for my first troop meeting, and we had a great turnout.
My dad had a full slate of activities planned.
You all ready to get these merit badges? - ALL: Yes! - Let's have some fun.
Keep stacking that wood, son.
How's that leak coming? Just need to put in the washer, Mr.
You're one step closer to getting that Plumbing badge.
I finished trimming the bushes.
Good work, Norman.
Now clear the weeds out of that flower bed and you'll have yourself a Gardening badge.
[Door opens.]
- Oh, man.
- [Door closes.]
We are never getting the stinky-boy smell out of this house.
Bill, why is there a young man painting our front door? He's working hard to earn his Home Repairs merit badge.
You sure he's not just checking items off your Chore Chart? Ooh, is there a Laundry badge? 'Cause I don't feel like doing my chores, either.
Lillian, merit badges "Encourage boys to try out new activities that may result in new skills.
" I'm sure that is not what these little boys signed up for.
Yeah, Dean said we'd go out camping and canoeing, not digging up other folks' weeds.
Whoa, whoa.
Looks like somebody doesn't want his Good Citizen badge.
[Door opens, closes.]
COACH LONG: Hey, Bill.
Come to get Cory.
How's it going? Ah, you know.
Just over here, men being men.
- All right, now.
- [Both laugh.]
What's up, Dad? Hey, Mr.
Williams, I'm almost done baking those cookies.
Now, I remembered not to use walnuts, 'cause you said it makes your tummy hurt, right? You know what, Cory? I'm just gonna go ahead and give you that Cooking badge.
And First Aid, too.
You could have just saved my life.
- Congratulations, son.
- Thank you.
Hey, Bill.
These boys need to be outside, in nature hiking, fishing, sleeping under the stars like I did when I was a Scout.
ALL: Yeah! Hey, Dad, you could take us camping.
Well, I wouldn't want to step on Bill's toes, but if you need my help or rather, my expertise DEAN: He doesn't.
He can take us, right, Dad? Of course, son.
Bill Williams.
What you know about camping? It's just like going on the road with my band, except more marshmallows, but if you want to spend time with your boy, I guess it'd be okay if you came along as my assistant.
Well, I I see it as a co-leader situation.
Ah, let's not get hung up on titles.
We're doing this for the boys, right? Of course.
Titles are just words.
Just words.
Like, uh "Eagle Scout.
" "1/16 Cherokee.
" Just words.
Just words.
Spending a weekend in the woods with a bunch of 12-year-olds was definitely not my dad's idea of a good time, but there was no way he was gonna let Coach Long show him up.
So before our trip, he broke the bank at the sporting goods store.
- The man came to play.
- Uh, Bill? What What What you doing with all that stuff? Now, you know I could survive for a week with just a knife, a canteen, and two sticks to rub together.
Well, you enjoy your sticks.
I believe that if you're gonna do something, you should do it in style.
This tent had all the bells and whistles literally, it had a bell.
Not sure why.
Maybe to scare away bears.
Anyway, it was amazing, and I couldn't wait to put it up.
I think we put A-23 where C-27 should go, - and where's B-26? - Be cool.
It's just letters and numbers.
We'll figure it out.
Y'all still working on that, huh? Now, don't you worry, Bill.
If it rains, you can put that pretty box over your head.
Yeah, well if you hear a bear in the middle of the night, don't come running to ring my bell.
[No sound.]
It's at a frequency only bears can hear.
Yeah, bears don't work like that.
Who wants to go chop some firewood up? - ALL: Me! - Come on, y'all.
I'll stay and help with the tent.
Thank you, son.
I refuse to believe that this grinning idiot is smarter than me.
I think that's supposed to be a skylight.
Well, it's a door now.
Hey, Dean.
You won't believe it, man.
We were chopping down trees, right? And a copperhead came up from under the log! Then Mr.
Long cut it in half with the hatchet! But, listen, the head was still wiggling.
Then a hawk flew down, grabbed it, and carried it away.
If it wasn't for my dad, we'd all be dead from that snake.
And Norman would have been carried off by the hawk.
Well, uh, the boys are exaggerating a bit, but, uh, I did work up an appetite saving all these lives.
You know, some of y'all start a fire.
And the rest of y'all, sharpen up some sticks so we can roast some hot dogs.
Come on.
Actually, I know you told me to get hot dogs, but I did a lot better than that.
Freeze-dried beef stroganoff.
What you feeding us? Beanies and weenies would have been a whole lot easier.
Cliff, this is the food of the future.
The salesman told me this is what the astronauts use.
All we got to do is add hot water and we'll be eating like kings.
Come on, guys.
If you close your eyes, it's just like eating at a fancy restaurant in whatever country beef stroganoff comes from.
In that moment, all I could think about was what my mom and sister were having for dinner back home.
Mama, no.
I couldn't possibly have one more piece of Dean's favorite cornbread.
Not after I ate two helpings - of Dean's favorite short ribs! - [Laughs.]
Girl, well, I hope you saved some room for a big piece of coconut cake.
Mmm! It's Dean's favorite.
[Both laugh.]
[Playing "Reveille".]
At 6:00 a.
, Dad decided to wake us up with a Scout bugle call that he told us was a tradition stolen from the Matabele warriors of Zimbabwe.
["Reveille" continues.]
All right, men, grab your notebooks, 'cause I want you to explore the area and identify native plants so you can earn your Nature badges.
- Oh, man.
- Oh, man.
Or I saw on the map there's a crystal-clear lake with a swimming dock not too far from here.
Who wants to get their Hiking badge and their Swimming badge? ALL: Yeah! Okay, now we're talking.
Walking sticks? Seriously? That salesman clearly worked on commission.
Hey, you sure you know where you're going? We're almost there.
Let me see.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.
We been off this map at least a mile.
My lensatic compass tells me the lake is just up ahead.
Well, my 1/16 Cherokee blood tells me it's back that way.
Are you still spewing that BS about being part Indian? I didn't believe you in third grade when you made it rain, and I don't believe you now.
Let's go, son.
[Birds chirping.]
Almost there.
You said that 20 minutes ago.
Look, I don't care about the lake anymore.
Can we please just go back to the campsite? [Breathing heavily.]
Uh, let me see here.
Admit it you're lost! You have no idea where we are.
I know exactly where we are.
[Indistinct conversations.]
- See ya, Lisa.
- Bye.
- All right.
- Good meeting you, Sharon.
NORMAN: Dean, where you been, man? We ran into these Pixie Scouts, - and they were really nice.
- Yeah.
CORY: One of them didn't have nobody to talk to, so I told her about you.
She wanted to meet you.
She was wearing a two-piece.
All right, it's getting late, men.
Let's go ahead and head back to the campsite.
But I didn't get a chance to swim! I don't think I've ever been so angry at my dad.
I knew I shouldn't let it out, but I couldn't help myself, so I turned to him and summoned up all the 12-year-old eloquence I could muster.
This stinks! You stink! You ruined this trip for me because you don't know what you're doing! You shoulda just let Coach Long be the leader! I stood there, waiting for my dad to whoop me for being so fresh or drown me in the lake Wait a minute.
Nobody brought that hatchet, did they? There's no telling what this man might do.
But he did nothing.
Coach Long is right.
It'll be dark soon.
We should head on back.
You lead the way, Cliff.
I could tell my dad was feeling terrible about what I said at the lake.
I was feeling pretty lousy myself, and he obviously needed my help putting up that tent.
But you know what? I was cooking a marshmallow, and those things go from brown to black real quick.
[Breathes sharply.]
It looks like your father could use a hand.
It's not my fault he doesn't know what he's doing.
He's really bad at this.
Bad? [Laughing.]
He's the worst.
Always has been.
Now, when we were around your age, a bunch of us would go out into the woods, and your father would stay home and practice his saxophone.
And he would yell at us, "Y'all can waste your time chasing those squirrels, 'cause I'm gonna stay home and practice so I can play at the Blue Note in New York City.
" And I'll be damned if he didn't play there before we graduated college.
And I'll be honest I couldn't believe when I heard he volunteered to be the troop leader.
Then why'd he do it? Well, if I had to take a guess, um he wanted his son to do something that was important to him, and if that meant looking a little foolish well he was man enough to let it happen.
- [Chuckles.]
- [Distant laughter.]
Boy, how many times I told y'all about playing catch with the hatchet?! Hold up.
When you're 12, it's hard to process the first time you realize your dad isn't good at everything.
Or in the case of my son, when he was 8.
Stupid "John Madden Football.
" Like that proves anything.
[Insects chirping.]
[Book thumps.]
[Chirping continues.]
There were so many things I wanted to say to my dad in that moment that it was hard to realize he wasn't the perfect man I thought he was.
That I was ashamed of the way I embarrassed him back at the lake.
That I was grateful he was willing to leave his comfort zone and do something he hated so I could do something I loved.
All these thoughts swirled around in my head, until finally, I said Dad I haven't BM'd in two days.
Is that a bad thing? I think you'll live.
Just don't tell your mother or you'll be gulping down castor oil.
That stuff is almost as nasty as my stroganoff.
[Thunder rumbles.]
Oh, y'all see that lightning? Mnh-mnh.
Grab your things and get to the car.
[Gear clattering.]
We do not play with God! Come on! Come on, now! [Thunder rumbling.]
[Tent poles clattering.]
[Thunder crashes.]
Well, men, it looks like it's not letting up.
Now we can't earn any more badges.
You know, there's one more badge I remember seeing in the book that we can still get before your parents expect you home.
[Thunder crashes.]
[Jazz music playing.]
You hear that? The bass player lays down a melody, and the cat on the piano responds.
It's called "antiphony.
" Straight from traditional African music.
Thanks to my dad's quick thinking and a $5 bill he slipped to the maître d', that was the night we all got our Music Appreciation badges.
Who's ready for another round? ALL: Me! It was also the night we ordered our first drinks from a bar.
There's no alcohol in a Roy Rogers, but we didn't know that.
We were convinced we were wasted.
Maybe it was all that cigarette smoke.
[Cheers and applause.]
Or maybe it was because none of us had BM'd in two days.
Ladies and gentleman, I see a familiar face out there.
If y'all make enough noise, maybe we can convince Mr.
Bill Williams to come and join us for a number! - [Cheers and applause.]
- Yeah! Yeah! Go, Mr.
Williams! [Chuckles.]
[Blowing soundlessly.]
[Cheers and applause continue.]
[Music begins.]
This was also the night I realized that my slice of the middle-class American dream might not look like other people's but I had a cool cat for a father, a man who would do just about anything to make me happy and that was enough.

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