Granite State Merit Badges
Yup. We got a badge for that
I was never a Boy Scout. Frankly, it sounded like too much work, and I figured my knobby knees would look funny in those short pants. This meant that I missed out on all those fun activities like starting a fire without matches on a rainy day, or setting up a tent on top of an ant hill, or spying on the Girl Scout camp to check out their knobby knees.
Of course, what I really missed out on was getting merit badges, not to mention a classy sash to display them on. However, as a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, I have developed a list of semi-useful skills and habits that, to my mind, deserve recognition. So, I’ve come up with Granite State Merit Badges, awarded only to those who have striven to achieve the highest standards of New Hampshire living, or who simply have too much time on their hands. In keeping with the times, these badges are gender neutral. If you’re brave enough to wear one, I don’t care what bathroom you use.
To earn this badge, you must own a minimum of five items of flannel clothing, and you must wear them throughout the year. In New Hampshire, flannel is our major fashion statement. All right, let’s be honest, it’s our only fashion statement, unless you count L.L.Bean boots, which only count if they are more than 10 years old.
To earn this one, you must eat lobster from the shell and eat it all, every little bit, down to the last morsel in the last leg. (No, you don’t have to eat the green stuff, called tomalley. We’re not monsters.) Note: Eating a lobster roll does not count, nor does lobster served in a fancy restaurant with a reduction of organic Romanian raspberry sauce. You have only melted butter, the way God intended lobster to be eaten.
To be worthy of this badge, you must demonstrate frugality on a master’s level. Examples of prize-winning parsimony include: refusing to part with an item of clothing simply because it has holes in it; saving and reusing aluminum foil, rubber bands or string; bringing home those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner from motels; and repairing your car with so much Bondo that a magnet will no longer stick to it.
To earn this badge, you must demonstrate an ability — nay, an enthusiasm — for driving on roads that would make people from Florida and southern California break out in a cold sweat. Acceptable conditions include snow-covered, black-iced, mud-mired, washboarded, and roads subject to bars and gates.
Successful recipients of this badge will be able to respond with simple one- or two-word expressions to any and all situations including: proposals of marriage, the house catching fire, winning the megabucks lottery and the unplanned arrival of triplets.
This badge is awarded only to those who have eaten baked beans made from scratch. Applicants from uncivilized areas, where beans only come in cans, may apply for a special exemption. An additional ribbon is attached for those who actually make the beans themselves, and a special double ribbon for using salt pork and a real bean pot. We’ll be right over.
For this badge, you must have used duct tape for something other than fixing a duct, including auto body work, shoe repair, patching window screens and emergency first aid. Thanks to a recent ruling from the merit badge council, colors other than the original grey are now allowed in the interest of diversity.
For this one, you must swear that you will only abide 100% maple syrup, preferably from New Hampshire. (If stranded on a desert island and only out-of-state syrup is available, you’re excused.) You must also present a minimum of five ways to use maple syrup other than on pancakes and waffles. I can think of a dozen without even straining my brain. If you make your own syrup, you get a special ribbon and our heartfelt admiration. That is not a pastime for sluggards.