Badger 6 may be a rough-and-ready fellowship of adventurers, but we can’t surmount every challenge thrown our way without some backup. This post concerns the unsung heroes of our service year, who keep the team aloft when adversity threatens to sink our ship.
Jerry “The Superfreak” (the team van)
At some point or another, every NCCC team names its 15-passenger van. It’s a natural response, on some level. These beasts of burden carry us from place to place without complaint, so it’s only fair that we show some affection in return.
The pet name that a team chooses, however, has a remarkably powerful effect on the van’s personality. Go with something cutesy, or creepy (“The Baby Napper,” for example), and that’s what you’re stuck with for the duration of the year.
The origin story behind Jerry’s name is pretty long, convoluted, and lacks any obvious punch line or payoff, but “Jerry” seems to fit the big lug very nicely. He’s earthy, somewhat cantankerous, quick to punish but quicker to forgive, and pretty much the life of the party. We love the fellow, and treat him like one of the family.
As for the “Superfreak” nickname, well, he picked that one up after I burned a copy of “Pure Funk” for use in his CD tray. After bumping some Rick James throughout the sleepy wilderness of Conowingo, we more or less decided that our van had found his theme song.
We probably talk a lot more about Jerry than we do about each other. Just one of those delirious inside jokes that comes from being cooped up together for months on end, I guess.
We had to replace our teammate Evelyn somehow. She’s gone for the entire first round, off fighting fires or something stupid like that, while the rest of us have toiled in Conowingo and Camden.
We were at a loss for how to properly recapture her unique and utterly irreplaceable personality... until we found a discarded paper bag puppet in a Conowingo cabin that sort of looked like her. Then we were pretty much good.
Evelyn Jr. has become a fixture at team meetings, contributing her adorable catchphrase “Whaaaaaat?” whenever we address her. She contributes such spark and life to our discussions.
Naturally, a sort of filial bound has developed between us and this beautiful bag, leading to the prickly question of what to do when Evelyn Sr. returns to the group in May. The only equitable solution, we’ve decided, is a fight to the death.
Every team of do-gooders needs a nemesis. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had the Foot Clan. G.I. Joe had Cobra, the Autobots the Decepticons.
For Badger 6, there is Badger 5.
No one can say exactly when our rivalry with these sniveling, self-righteous, smelly simpletons* began. But it probably had something to do with them strutting around the Perry Point dorms, proclaiming themselves “The Dream Team” and braying out “BADGER 5!” at every opportunity.
We decided to take them down a peg.
So, during our last week together at Perry Point, the members of Badger 6 were each given a target from Badger 5. Our mission: to double heel-click said target and remind them which team reigned supreme. For the uninitiated, a “double heel-click” is an acrobatic maneuver that requires leaping into the air, rotating 180 degrees and smacking both of your heels against a vertical surface. It’s usually done against walls, flagpoles, or (if you’re really adventurous) fireplaces. The “DHC” is a Badger 6 specialty, sort of like a Mortal Kombat finishing move.
One by one, each of us took the heels to our target. Our team leader Chloe took out their team leader, Beth. Then the rest of us followed suit, each of us texting Chloe once we had completed the deed: “target eliminated.” To complete the humiliation, Chloe left a copy of the Badger 5 team roster in Beth’s backpack. The face of every member had been crossed out in red ink.
Oh, but it didn’t end there. We have already sent Badger 5 a postcard with a helpful little mathematical reminder written on it: 6 > 5. That phrase is our team’s rallying cry for the year.
Ironically enough, there was once a time of great peace between our two warring factions. When Chloe and Beth were NCCC members last year, Badger 6 and Badger 5 were inseparable friends. The teams worked together on several projects, and became so attached to one another that they took to collectively calling themselves “Badger 11.”
But clearly, those old alliances are long dead. Badger 5’s members have been bragging that they’re going to get us back for the double-heel clicking stunt. We’ll see what they’ve got.
Why list Badger 5 in this sidekicks post? Because imagining new ways to torment them is one of my team’s favorite bonding activities. And... um... maybe because we actually think that they’re pretty cool people, and this little rivalry of ours is little more than a friendly joke? ... Nah.
* Badger 5 member Grace is excepted from all negative remarks made about her team. You go, Grace.
"Kiss From A Rose" is Badger 6's theme song for the year. So underrated. So triumphant. All the pathos and glory of the human condition encapsulated in less than four minutes. Behold: