Even at the age of 8, I knew I was destined to be the lone-wolf type. I dropped out of Cub Scouts in the third grade because I didn’t fit in with their secret handshakes and crochet merit badges.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great institution, minus its discrimination against alternative lifestyles, but it just wasn’t for me. Perhaps it was the beginning of the lone-wolf syndrome.

Later in life, two younger brothers (Bader and Fred) became Eagle Scouts, leaving me in the dust. This led to years of wondering whether I could have made it to the top had I only toughed it out. I guess shoulda’s, woulda’s and coulda’s rule the world.

Any doubts of my worthiness as an Eagle Scout were erased a few weekends ago when I came across a most unusual situation.

A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to see where she hunts in Virginia. I’m always up for an outdoor adventure, and since I hadn’t fired a shot the previous week hunting, I wanted to target practice.

Plus, I really wanted to see if this woman could handle a shotgun like she said she could.

Before we picked up her 8-year-old boy, her Chevy Suburban — which is bigger than a Hummer — needed gas. While checking the oil, I noticed her back tires were so bald that the steel radials were showing through. She said she knew about it and we were on our way.

Upon entering the property, we had to navigate through an old railroad tunnel which was nearly a mile long. That was awesome. She got extra points when she asked me “if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Corny humor is my specialty.

About a mile after the tunnel, we parked. We are deep in the woods now, far away from homes and any cell phone signals. After getting out of the truck, I noticed a loud hissing sound.

One of the back, bald tires had a hole in it and it was going flat fast. I asked her if she had a spare, and she said yes, but no jack. My immediate thought: “We are screwed.”

We had an option to climb the highest mountain and check for a cell signal or walk miles to the nearest home, but I wanted to percolate on the situation for a moment.

The hissing stopped when I pressed my fingers over the hole and I immediately knew it needed to be plugged. But with what?

I asked my friend if she had any rubber bands — she thought I was nuts — but they were too skinny to plug the hole. I started scrounging around in her glove box and found two plastic pens with rubber grips on them.

I cut the rubber grips off with my knife and they made a perfect square. My first three attempts at stuffing the rubber grips into the hole with my Leatherman’s tool failed and the tire was now three-quarters flat.

I knew the probability of this working was slim and I kept telling her that. On my last fervent try, the hissing stopped. But I knew it would not hold for long on its own. That’s when another epiphany hit me: “Oh, beautiful duct tape, where art thou?”

Red Green would have been proud as I stripped off the duct tape and began applying it over the plug in a criss-cross fashion. Things were really progressing now. We are mobile, baby! But do we take the chance of getting stuck in the tunnel?

At first I stayed out of the vehicle and walked along beside it, making sure that we avoided rocks and mud puddles — an impossibility because of the rain and terrain.

But the tire held so well that eventually I rode inside. We were able to make it through the tunnel and came across two of her relatives in a truck which had a jack. I changed the tire and we were on our way back to civilization.

My friend did a great job, not only driving, but being patient and positive and helpful through the whole ordeal. Major extra points for that.

MacGyver’s got nothing on this Cub Scout drop-out.

I challenge any Eagle Scout to plug a tire with a pen and duct tape. But, you gotta send me the photo, too.

Carpe Diem, everybody.

— Christian is a Register-Herald reporter and had all of his hunting gear with him that day. E-mail: cggenbach@register-herald.com

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