Or, Hey You Kids Get Off of My Lawn.
The Girl Scouts were out in front of Lowe's this weekend. All over the country, you've seen them, waving baked goods with cheery expressions on their faces, holding up their homemade signs, and blithely chanting that devilish phrase:
"Would you like to buy some cookies?"
Please understand, I myself am a lifelong Girl Scout, and so is my mother. I have been a junior, a cadette, a senior, and an adult scout; I have been to two national Wider Opportunity camps, participated in the convention for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and have spent an entire summer employed as a Girl Scout Camp Counselor*. And I, too, spent at least 4 years combing the nearby neighborhoods of my hometown, ringing doorbells and thwacking doorknockers to sell a garage full of cookies**. Back then, my parents would never bring my sign-up sheet into work to ask their co-workers to buy cookies, and we never did "booth sales," like the girls you see out in front of Home Depot or the grocery. I had to get every single one of those orders by myself, and deliver them, too. On the one hand, I envy today's girls - it certainly seems easier to do it the way they're doing. On the other hand, it was nice to live in a world where it was safe for me to wander the streets on my own, ringing the doorbells of friends and strangers alike, and frequently go into their houses while they decided what kind of cookies they wanted. That may have been only (gulp) 25 years ago, but if I had a daughter, I'm not sure I'd let her do that today.
But back to those young ladies at Lowe's. As we walked towards the door, I saw the signs by the stacks of cookies and inadvertently yelped, "$3.50?!? Really? When I was..." At which point, The Cajun grabbed me by the elbow, smiled apologetically at the girls, and steered me firmly into the store and towards the window coverings section.
There is a Story here: when I was selling cookies, I would frequently start my efforts at the home of my next-door neighbors, The Baileys***, because a.) they were next door and b.) I knew they'd buy a whole bunch of boxes. However, in order to earn my sale from Mrs. Bailey, I would have to go through the same ritual every year. First, I would have to explain to her all the new offerings (if any) and which cookies weren't being offered this year (if any). Then, I would have to listen to her tell me all about how she sold cookies when she was a girl, and that they were only 25 cents a box! Can you imagine! And how appalled everyone was when they went up to 50 cents! And then she would tell me the story of how she had appeared on the cover of the official Girl Scout magazine when she was a girl, and that Mr. Bailey had seen her picture on his sister's copy, and said, "I don't know who that girl is, but I'm going to marry her someday," and that several years later, they did meet, and he did marry her****. And every year, she would order a huge number of boxes, and give me a hug, and say, "I just can't believe how expensive they've gotten," and shake her head.
The Cajun has heard me tell this story any number of times, which is why he made that grab for my elbow. Because otherwise, he knew perfectly well that I was about to channel Mrs. Bailey and tell those girls all about how boxes were only $1.50 when I started selling, and that it was almost a relief when the price finally went up to $2.00 because it was harder to do the arithmetic in your head when they were $1.75. And that I'm pretty sure those boxes had more cookies in them back then, too. Of course, then I would have bought a whole bunch of boxes to make up for it, which would have been great for the girls, but not so good for my waistline. I have pretty good willpower around a lot of things, but I can and will polish off an entire box of Samoas by myself in one sitting, and woe betide the individual who tries to pry it out of my hands. Tagalongs are nearly as bad.
So, please, if you see a group of cheerful, polite Girl Scouts hawking their wares at your local shopping establishment, do what I couldn't, and patronize them without patronizing them, if you catch my meaning. Sure, the cookies are on the expensive side, but it's not really about the cookies (although they are incredibly good): the money from those sales may be sending those girls to camp, or helping the troop pay for an outing or a service project, and it's certainly helping support scouting nationwide. What could be better?†
* Which, incidentally, is where a fair amount of my grey hair came from.
** I know it was a garage full because when all my orders came in, they filled our garage. Let's hear it for my patient mother, who drove me around to both get the orders, and, several months later, deliver them. It was not a task for the timid. Particularly since, I don't mind telling you, I was the top seller in town for 3 years. When I stopped selling, Mom went through such withdrawal that she volunteered to be the town cookie coordinator the next year. And then she did such a great job that they asked her to keep doing it. The dangers of competency...
*** Not their real name, of course, but they did have a beautiful Golden Retriever named Bailey, who never, ever barked. Ever. Even when our beagle, who loathed all Golden Retrievers on general principles (no idea why) threw his regular hissy fits at him. He was a great dog.
**** Which is a completely true story, by the way, and I loved hearing it every year.
† Except, perhaps, having a freezer full of Thin Mints. Alas.