Sunday was Scout Day at the 5:30 mass. I walked in to the strains of America the Beautiful and took my seat in the pew as a throng of boys and girls clad in blue and yellow, brown and white, wiggled in their reserved pews up front. A few lucky ones tried semi-successfully to skillfully handle flags on unwieldy poles as they marched down the center aisle ahead of the readers and Father John.
The best thing about the Girl Scouts is the cookies, of course. Sadly, they did not replace the host with Tagalongs this week. Or Samoas.
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
It wasn’t a huge thing, Girl Scouts, when I was growing up. Or maybe it was? And I just didn’t notice? Entirely possible. I was a pretty oblivious child. Sometimes I’m a pretty oblivious adult. Either way, I was in Brownies for a couple of years, and it seemed that usually one stayed in it until you made it to the actual Girl Scout level, got the rockin’ green jumper, and then did that for a year before opting out. It’s all a little hazy for me, to be honest, mostly because we moved after I was in Brownies for a couple years, and I started at a new school, not bothering to join up again. And besides, the only reason I joined Brownies to begin with was because at snack time they had awesome treats like Twinkies or Hostess cupcakes.
My mom never bought those kinds of snacks for us. We always had granola bars or were told to go eat an apple. The raciest snack we kept in the house were tortilla chips.
Somewhere, in the back of my closet at my parents’ house, is the brownie uniform that was worn by me and I’m pretty sure at least two of my sisters. Is hard to believe I was so tiny as to actually fit into that jumper at one point, and I wonder what happened to the sash I had, and the patches that mom sewed on. For the life of me I have no recollection of what those patches meant or how I got them. I do remember a big orange book, like a Guide to Brownies workbook or something that I used to pore over, reading about all the different, colorful patches. And I loved that the patches were triangular and fit together neatly when sewn on, kind of like this:
(Except flush against one another. Which I cannot seem to make my computer do. Apparently am losing my PShop skillz. So soon. So sad.)
If I’m being honest, like many things in life, I loved the idea of a patch-covered brownie sash, but actually doing the work to get said patches was not high on my list of priorities. If it was something I could do rather easily, sure, sign me up. But if I had to put, you know, effort into it? That thought usually flew out the window in favor of lolling about or making another trip to the library to check out eleventeen million more books. Books, easy, fun. Working for patches, not so much.
There was one summer when I attended Brownie day camp, which I think was the beginning of the end for me as far as the Girl Scout organization went. But I do remember a few choice snippets of that experience.
- I got to ride a bus to get there, which I thought was way cool, and determined that this would be good “practice” for future reference in bus taking. (Because…wait, what? You need to “practice” riding a school bus? Like you’ve never been on a field trip before? Seriously, people, these are the things my small-child brain dreamed up and rationalized.)
- We made some sort of hamburger patty that incorporated Lipton soup mix and was wrapped in tin foil and cooked over a fire, which I found delicious.(Well that makes total sense. Cook almost anything over an open fire and I will declare it delicious.)
- On the last day? One of the last days? A random day? I totally peed myself on the bus because I had to go to the bathroom but didn’t want to get off the bus to go because not only did I not want to use the outhouse but I was also afraid that if I got off the bus it would leave without me and I’d be stranded and never be able to get home EVER. So CLEARLY the logical choice was to just pee my pants, and all over the seat, and then move to a seat two rows back and hope nobody would notice. Surprisingly, I don’t think anybody did notice. (And no, I’m not really sure what to make of this whole episode either, except to wonder at my small child self, ‘WHAT THE SHIT? SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE SHIT GOES ON IN YOUR HEAD? HOW DID YOU EVEN MAKE IT TO AGE 10?”)
And when we moved from Dolton to Crete, to a new school, I didn’t bother signing up for Brownies again. I did, however, manage to convince Mom from then on out to let me have Twinkies and such as special snacks when going on field trips. Compromise is a beautiful thing, people.
Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.
Except for that one over there with the Twinkies. She’s motherfucking platinum.