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The clubhouse gang

Tom Boyd

There is a den of evil brooding in East Vail.Yes, like demons from a bygone era, a group of young tyrants has built a treehouse high in the branches of an aging spruce, where they lurk and loiter after school. From their impenetrable crow’s nest they shout epithets and wield carved sticks in a menacing fashion, creating havoc in the hearts of passersby, bringing fear and lawlessness to a formerly peaceful neighborhood.There are six of the little scoundrels, as far as I can tell, maybe seven. But I think the seventh may be just an honorary member, the Tiger Woods of the group (therefore not allowed to vote on any clubhouse issues).Across the street lives a gaggle of peaceful village girls, all of whom are sweet, innocent and defiant in the face of brutal name-calling perpetrated by the demon boys (also during after-school hours). All the little girls want is to see the interior of the clubhouse, peer down upon the rooftops from that self-same perch where the boys now rule. But they are not allowed. And in order to gain access to this club they have done what every good, young, curly-haired girl is driven to do in times of desperation.They have called in the Rev. Jesse Jackson.Now, armed with the overwhelming backing of the public, Jackson has brought his Rainbow/PUSH organization to the front lines of the battle.But the demon boys, hidden away behind the particle-board ramparts of their unyielding castle, have yet to give in to the Rev. Jackson’s calls for equality and justice.As a responsible man of the media I am instantly on the scene, reporting every event as each moment passes.”What kind of a world do we live in,” the Reverend says in his trademark voice, “when little girls can’t join a boys treehouse club simply because of their race, sex, creed or favorite brand of apple juice!”Beneath the tree a national newspaper columnist is accosting the seventh member of the club as he climbs down, calling him feeble, and demanding that he make a stand on behalf of the helpless girls across the street.The seventh member, bewildered, merely replies, “My mom said I have to be home for dinner by seven,” as the newspaper man scribbles in his notebook, marking down the statement and calling it morally reprehensible.It is only fitting that the major television networks become involved. East Vail is now transformed into a forest of antennae and cable, helicopters circling above.From within the clubhouse a green steam of anger seems to be rising. Defiant but calm, their leading member is emerging from their sordid conference to issue a statement. He shows his snarled face and the media drops silent, the camera lenses focus like a hundred hungry eyes.But when he speaks, it is a little pre-pubescent squeak, a scraggly squawk that is lost in the wash of noise from the choppers. The CNN camera man screams at him: “Louder!”He clears his throat and again, the squeak, but this time audible: “Leave us alone! Get your own clubhouse!”The shock is complete, and no wonder — the world is stunned in the face of such incomprehensible aggression.But the boy quietly withdraws, no doubt playing some unclean game with his insensitive peers.And now the days are going by, but the boys in the clubhouse remain. And now the Reverend is called away to another cause. And finally the media masses are slowly dispersing, looking impatiently for another clubhouse, another brood of evildoers, another group of fair maidens to rescue from the throes of wonton discrimination.Tom Boyd is a lifelong local and assistant clubhouse chairman at the Vail Trail. He can be reached at (970) 390-1585 or tboyd@vailtrail.com.


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