We’ve lived in El Dorado for over twenty years. This cozy hamlet boasts an arts center, oak-framed parks, and coffee shops. What more could a girl want? I figured it out the first February. While opportunities abound for Webelos, Cub and Boy Scouts, El Dorado is Camp Fire country. No Girl Scout troop existed. When I realized this disastrous drawback, I suddenly craved a Thin Mint, but there were none to be had.
I developed a geographically extensive support group for my Girl Scout cookie habit. My brother’s secretary’s daughter in Little Rock (two hours away) came through one year. Sorority sisters’ daughters throughout the state helped another time. Once in early spring, when I had abandoned all hope, I happened to be visiting a friend in Jackson, Miss (three hours away). As we drove by a Wal-Mart, my instincts surged. Near the entrance, a sign announced Girl Scout Cookies for Sale. We whipped right up to the table, popped open the trunk, and I helped that dumbfounded girl earn her cookie patch.
Truly, any Scout worth her batter would do well to call me. I’m a two-box-per-selection kind of gal. I would often carry a saucer with the discontinued Snaps, balanced with a cup of steaming Earl Grey, onto my back porch. I snuggled in with a Trollope novel, dunking that crunchy ginger cookie in my tea. I’ve even served Trefoils at bridal coffees I’ve hosted, though it takes several boxes to do so.
I know the cookies and boxes shrink each year. Though it’s for a noble cause, that’s not why I buy them. I’d purchase them if the money only went to keep someone’s Granny in a bingo game. I’m not sure why it’s so important that I obtain Girl Scout cookies every year. Perhaps it’s the memories they conjure. As an eight-year-old, I’d slip into my green uniform, belt and beret, then carefully slide my patch-laden sash over my dog ears. I’d march door to door with the full confidence that I was completely safe, and that every neighbor would purchase at least a box of Sandwich Crèmes, because I peddled an excellent product. No telemarketing woes then.
Perhaps it’s remembering slumber parties with my pajama-clad buddies, our sleeping bags sprinkled with lemony Savannah Smiles crumbs. Perhaps it’s gratitude that I survived the afternoon when I single-handedly downed two boxes of Thin Mints (I did lay off a few years after that).
A few years ago, Caroline, my niece from Topeka and a fledgling Brownie, called to see if I might buy some cookies. Overjoyed, I ordered my customary two boxes of every type. A few days later, a college chum’s daughter called, cookie order sheet in hand. Being a fair consumer, I had to order a couple boxes of each from her as well.
I still had to hide them. With three teenaged boys and a husband with a sweet tooth, the Peanut Butter Tag-Alongs go pretty fast around here. I wouldn’t dare waste them in my sons’ lunch boxes. And by that May, I searched the frosty corners of my deep freeze, hoping to find one more box. Perhaps that’s the strongest draw of all: when they’re gone, they’re gone, and that’s when I need a Samoa the most.
It’s January, so I better start hustling my prospects. Maybe it would be simpler to move to a Girl Scout town. I’ve got to think about what’s important. Hopefully my family will join me—and they probably will if I just order enough Do-Si-Dos.
This essay appeared in Cloud 9 magazine, Winter 2013, p. 48. www.c9magazine.com.