Saturday, January 16, 2010

Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Cubs and Cookies.

An essay from a Boy Scout dropout about Girl Scout Cookies.
Or more things I know nothing about.

Girl Scout cookies are awesome, no doubt, everyone agrees. We all have our sinful favorite. Little pieces of heaven sent to earth in green and yellow boxes.

Boy Scouts do not sell cookies, unless they join the Girl Scouts. Which I guess is perfectly acceptable these days. I am not sure I would want to buy a cookie made by Boy Scouts. I've seen how the Boy Scouts cook and it usually involves skinning a rabbit at some point.

I am not going to wax poetically about the heavenly delights of the Somoa or the frozen Thin Mint. I don't even hardly wax my own skis much less anything poetic. But Cookie season is upon us again, and I must address it's grip on our generation. It is the cult of the cookie that fascinates me. What made these confections so amazingly popular? Why are keys to the cookie held by the tweens in beanies and sashes? What exactly is Scouting, and why does it require neckerchiefs?

The cookies are true Americana, a throw back to a simpler time; when community was important and was made up of your neighbors. When trust was spread around like DDT. Like milk delivered to a box on your porch, Girl Scout cookies are more American than Dick Clark playing baseball with Dale Earnhardt.

Cookies were sold primarily door to door. A young lady in a clean and pressed uniform would show up at your door. . The uniform was comforting. It was official, people look up to people in uniform. Their Mother was always usually close by, off the steps or in the car. It was perfectly natural and normal. Then this wholesome, smiling, little girl in pig-tails would work you over like a side-show barker and take you for thirty bucks. Cookie sales is basically a gateway program that leads to harder lady-centric marketing programs like Avon and Mary Kay.

But nowadays they don't even come around door-to-door anymore. Now days you buy cookies from Girl Scouts at the grocery store. Located between the charcoal and the Coinstar machine they congregate around a fold up table stacked high with tagalongs and do-si-does. They don't even bother to wear the uniforms anymore either. How do I know I am not just buying cookies that "fell off a truck?" Mom is still, at least, close by - teaching their youngsters the joys of multi-level marketing.

The only other way to procure the cookies is because somebodies Mom or Dad will bring them in to the office. They shamelessly pedal their low-fat crack to their co-workers. How they find time between doing their kid's homework, and driving them to the malls, to go sell their cookies for them - I will never figure out.

Boy Scouts help old ladies across the street, and Girl Scouts sell the cookies. They both get badges and have to wear funny hats. That's what most people know about scouting. People who actually were scouts as kids talk about the experience like Catholics talk about their reformation classes. It is part of that childhood history we put in the back of our minds with the headgear and retainers. Never to be mentioned again.

It turns out the organizations couldn't be further apart, . They are two very different types of youth groups indeed. When Girl Scouts get together it does not usually involve pocket knives, rubbing sticks or lashing knots. Actually, I am not sure what they did when they had their meetings. To this day I never really know what is happening in groups of women, even when I, a lone male, am privy to a party of females...I still don't really know what's going on.

I was a Cub Scout, Then I moved into the Boy Scouts for a short career. I never even made it to the Boy Scout's first level. Tenderfoot was the gimme/entry level beginner status, and I didn't even make it that far. I was basically in the untouchable caste of Boy Scouts, lower than the lowest. I didn't last long. I received one merit badge as a scout; my badge wasn't for anything cool like First-Aid or Landing Planes in the Hudson River, I got a badge for Soil and Water Conservation, yeah, I spent a few hours learning about erosion and took a test. I passed, I got a badge.

Cub Scouts was fun, we never sold cookies though. We sold some stuff door-to-door, but none of it ever had the selling power of the famous cookies. We sold, instead, tickets to the Scout-O-Rama. The Scout-O-Rama was a convention for scouts, neighbors bought the tickets and never went. They were just donations. It was a shakedown scam, but I wore the uniform so it was OK.

Scouting is great for kids to get involved in,(at least until it becomes just another Facebook group). I am all for scouting! It gets kids out of the house, working with each other, being social and creative and learning new things. Scouting is teaching our kids about team-building so when they go to work as adults they will be better prepared for when they have to go spend their weekends team-building.

All kidding aside I truly do believe in the value of such organizations. I come from a family of Eagle Scouts. The black-belt/PHD of the Boy Scouts. From my Grandfather, Uncles and Dad I have learned to be prepared, to be clean, reverent and truthful. I learned the value of a sharp knife and dry down. Scouting had a profound effect on my lifestyle. Even though I didn't get the badges, I went camping and went to the Pack Meetings. I learned an appreciation for the outdoors and Bear Gryllis.

Most folks I seem to meet on the trails had some background in Scouting too, I can tell because their packs are much bigger and heavier. Scouts are always annoyingly more "prepared" than everyone else. It is a handicap instilled in us early on. It is still really hard for me to go on even a short hike behind the house without bringing an eight-pound axe, 50 feet of rope, and iodine tablets. I can't even leave the house without a knife and a lighter. You never know when you might be stuck at the Safeway overnight and have to build a fire to survive.

Cookies are yummy, Scouts are prepared. Please, please encourage your children to be scouts, and send them around to my place with some cookies or Scout-O-Rama tickets. I am going to need help crossing streets soon too.



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