“Perhaps it was because I had never been a Girl Scout. I guess we couldn’t afford the fancy Brownie uniform so my mom enrolled us into the lesser-known, knock-off Campfire Girls. Instead of selling the famous cookie, our fundraiser came in the form of kindling and matches. It wasn’t nearly as successful, especially in the dry season. But that was back in the wild 70’s when our palm oil wasn’t sustainable.”
This year, I am that haggard woman at the end of a bar telling cookie war stories over a full ashtray and an empty glass. I begin each tale with a dismissive scoff at the newbie moms who just saddled up gushing on about their huge troop order and how many booth sale locations they were able to secure.
“Heh. Good luck with that store. The manager says you can be inside but really makes you set up on the edge of the parking lot and won’t make change,” I say as I lean back on my barstool which is decorated with a personalized SitUpon.
They smile nervously. “We were told that was one of the best locations.” They order wine-spritzers.
“Ha!” I rasp. “They tell all the greenhorns that. I bet you over-ordered your Trefoils, too.”
“Three cases—the suggested amount from the manual.”
“Manual? I should have known. I hope you like shortbread because you’re going to be dunking those in your tapioca pudding at the old folks home.”
Rattled, they press on. “What about the other varieties? What about the Thank U Berry Munch number?”
“Let me give you some advice, Sister. Never call them by their full names. They’re Tags, Sams, DSD’s. Only rookies call them by their Christian names.”
“No one has told us this before.”
“Yeah, and they won’t. See this patch? It’s for running a booth in a freak snowstorm. This one here? Getting out all of my scouts unharmed when there was a run on milk and bread in said snowstorm.”
“Wow, that is impressive. Did your sales increase?”
Taking a long drag off my whiskey glass. “I told everyone going in that a Thin Mint had as much potassium as a bunch of bananas.” I wave away a flashback. “I’m not proud of that.”
Quietly, their gaze falls upon my left hand. “Is that where you got that scar?”
“This one? Nah. Posterboard cut in a particularly competitive sign year.”
They shudder. “We’re hoping to really kill them with our sign. I saw on Pin—”
“If you finish that sentence with anything other than, ‘guide for proper sash placement’, we are going to fight.”
They do not speak for several minutes. “Sounds like you’ve seen it all. Mind if I ask how long you’ve been the Cookie Mom?”
I set down my drink on a woven potholder that now serves as a coaster. “This is my second year.”
Visibly shaken, they exchange horrified glances. They see my unkempt hair, crazy eye and involuntary twitching. No doubt they hear my incoherent mumbling about the net weight of a box of Savannah Smiles and wonder if they too, are on this same sad path. As they throw a bill down on the bar, I call after them pointing to my well-decorated adult vest, “You see this patch here? That’s a badge for being tough.”
I drain the last of my whiskey. “I haven’t earned the Smart Cookie patch, yet.”
Smiling an exhausted grin I hoarsely whisper to the empty room. “But you just did when you didn’t look back after walking out that door.”
©2014 Tracey Henry
For a cooking with cookies recipe, see Dulce le leche and strawberry ice cream cake.
And if you need any cookies this year and buy from someone else, we are going to have to fight.