SCUL: Maggot Dinners

It’s the last week of SCUL season, and there’s a lot to keep my busy. A great deal of it is classified, but I can talk about the two Maggot-dinners I’ve had.

Maggot-dinners: sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Quite the opposite. When someone would like to join SCUL, there is an induction period. They find a Host: someone who is already in SCUL (a pilot), and they show them the ropes. There’s a tremendous amount of protocol and culture to learn, and it takes a while to grasp it all, and for us to get to know the new trainee. Near the end of the training we have a get-together between Maggot and Fleet Admiral. They make a dinner, and I make their wings. It takes about two hours to embroider the SCUL logo and the pilot name for the maggot to have. During that time we go over the pilot checklist and make sure that all the basics are covered: pilot page up with a picture and a description, basic understanding of protocol, etc.

These last two dinners were particularly enlightening to me.  You see, the Maggots have a revered place in SCUL. They are the ones who have the fresh perspective on the gang: what’s working, and what’s not. Since SCUL is constantly evolving (I never believe that we’re doing everything in the best possible way, and therefore always looking for ways to do it better), it’s vital to our growth to have this perspective. There are times when old pieces of SCULture don’t fit anymore, and it’s a great feeling when light from a different perspective lets you re-evaluate.

Maggot-Raven was over Tuesday. She made tofu soaked in soy and rolled in flour and sesames, fried up in sesame oil, with udon noodles and romaine lettuce in a mild vinaigrette. I tell you, the maggots go all out: an unexpected treat for the old Admiral. as we were going through the pilot form, she pointed out that she was unaware that her description should be spoken in her superhero voice. This got me thinking a great deal about how I should be gearing the induction process, and how I command. Even the pilot form should be set in a tone that inspires the things that make maggots and pilots into their own superheroes. I realized the question about describing yourself for the pilot page wsa far too dry to elicit a fun, superhero answer. Asking the right questions is very important.

Last night Maggot-Kpafun had his maggot-dinner: swordfish, rice, yams, tomatoes, onion, peas, lima beans, spinach, garlic, and fried plantains. It was an ordeal to say the least. He brought his sweetie Oom Ya Ya and Schvester as show and tell (oh, Raven brought a video she made back in Tennessee). Show and tell is encouraged. Maggot-Kpafun is particularly excited to join SCUL, and conversation was like a polish on the old brass, it really got us shining. After he left, my thoughts were on how amazing our Pilots and Maggots have been this year. I realized we were missing a chunk of protocol.

When a ‘Babymaggot’ (a Maggot on their first mission) becomes a Maggot, there undergo a mild hazing ritual. The Host asks “Is there any reason we shouldn’t let this Maggot join SCUL?” and the pilot make fun of them a bit. It’s all very tame; like “their shoes match” or “they smile too much”. Real soft stuff. Then we all say “aw what the Hell, let’s have them anyway!”, and we hug and cheer. It’s quite charming if it’s done right.

But what’s missing is a step in the knighting ceremony. I’d like to initaite a ‘reverse-hazing’, where pilots are asked “Is there any reason why we should let this Maggot become a Pilot. Then all the Pilots can barrage the Maggot with all sorts of positive things to say about our newest member. If the Maggot is ready, we’ll have plenty of posi fodder to hurl.

After thirteen years of leading SCUL, I’m beginning to recognize my true responsibilities in this fine gang. It is my job to unite the group as a team, and to bring out the best in the group and the individual. To give the Pilot ownership in the group, and to help them make it their own. To step out of the way when they are adding their own distinctive posiness to SCUL. This season has been an awakening of new philosophies and strategies. As a group, I feel like we have just begun to get our true wings.

A leader is only as good as the gang he brings together. I am immensely proud to serve such a thoughtful, talented, tireless team.