Monday, June 11, 2012

Girl Scout Gladiators

The situation is grave, I really need to go grocery shopping   Tonight's dinner options consisted of a sleeve of freezer burned thin mints or frozen peas.  Peas won, I hate thin mints.  They taste of disillusionment and broken dreams, a sugary echo of my cookie-haunted 4 months as a Girl Scout in first grade. 

The Girl Scouts of America empowers many young girls to grow into self-confident women.  But Troop 655 in Bremerton, Washington had no such agenda.  It was a cavalcade of pink hued giggles, friendship bracelets, and the annual bloodbath of cookie sales. 

My reasons for joining were two fold:
1) to learn to hunt a deer/start a fire/sew moccasins from the deer's hide
2) to go camping

I begged my parents for a whittling knife to bring with me to the first meeting "in case we have to carve our own spears".  So it was with game faced dejection that I waded through weeks of glitter glue projects and circle songs, sure all this fluff was necessary preamble to the good stuff, like knife tricks and archery.  But the macaroni art kept piling up.  And before long it was Cookie Sale Season.

We were given catalogs full of smiling girls decked out in enough badges to make General Patton jealous and received strict orders, issued through our troop leader's brittle smile, to sell sell sell.

I sold a box to my mom, a box to my dad, and a box to the old man next door, scrawling their orders down in mini golf pencil, a young Bob Crachit, and then setting aside the whole matter in relief.  I was such a shy kid and terrible salesperson, pushing even those 3 boxes had been a stretch.

A month later it was time for the Cookie Meeting (which to my chagrin did NOT involve eating cookies).  The troop sat in a tight circle as our moms stood around us like spectators at a gladiator competition.  One by one each girl stood up and announced how many boxes she had sold.

"18" (wow, her parents must really love cookies)
"81" (no way!!  how is that possi...)  
"181" (WHAT??)

Panic set in.  I had failed.  I hated ringing doorbells and asking strangers to buy my wares, but I also hated failing.  I nervously watched the moms around the edges of the room devour the litany of numbers like vultures tearing into fresh roadkill, Miss 181's mom feasting on the choicest morsels while 18's mom hung back in ignominy.

"Julia, how many did you sell?  Julia...Julia!"
"uh, three."
"Speak up sweetie, how many boxes did you sell?"

 The vultures cackled and howled at my hilarious joke.  But after a good look at my face, the laughs faded to an uncomfortable silence.  My mom, nonplussed, gave me a thumbs up and a smile in one of her most brilliant parenting moves to date.  If she didn't give a damn about the vultures, well then, neither did I. We drove home in happy silence and I never went back to the land of glitter glue. 

Miss 181 is probably out there clawing her way up in a Fortune 500 while 18 doggedly sells magazine subscriptions in the suburbs.  As for me, well, I know to never pursue a career in sales.  And only occasionally will I nibble on a samoa...


  1. Ah, Julia! You needed to grow up with Bear - but then you'd be filming with him and not have time to write!

  2. Julia, you'd fit right in with my gs troop! We don't sell cookies and the girls favorite thing to play this spring was "The Hunger Games" where they had pretend spear chucking and archery contests while they plot the revolution. Want to come lead a spear carving session? They'd love it!