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Every Cookie Has a Mission…

Every Cookie Has a Mission…

So say the Girl Scouts.  (Full disclosure: I was not a Girl Scout; I was a Camp Fire Girl.) They didn’t have Girl Scout troops in my economically forgotten neighborhood in Boston in the 1950s so the GS phenomenon was only familiar to me through television.  So I liked the jaunty neck kerchiefs and khaki outfits even then.

By all accounts Julia Gordon Low who created the Girl Scouts in 1912 was an athletic, active, woman with a hearing disability who became a serious advocate for improving the prospects of young women.  After she and her husband separated she looked for good works to occupy her time (would that more people did that!) and like many of us…she turned to women.

I don’t mean to imply she personally ‘turned to women’ although I’d like to imagine so.

She turned toward organizing and educating young women, perhaps recognizing the need to nurture those sparks of independence and ingenuity she must have felt as a girl at the turn of the century.  She was intelligent and physically active; no small deal at a time when women were still wearing corsets…not the decorative kind…and academics were still debating the meager capacity of the female brain.

I’m fascinated by her and her life but DAMN her cookies!!!  It happens every spring.  There they are, sitting outside of supermarkets, drugstores; trolling up and down parking lots and farmers markets.  I can’t go two steps without running into PARENTS selling their kid’s Girl Scout cookies and I find it quite annoying.  The stated mission of those cookies is ‘…to help girls do great things.” Not their parents.

There’s something about the way—in many not all cases—the girls recede behind their mothers (and some fathers) who shout at passersby enticing them to purchase the huge stacks of boxes.  This is a $700 Million dollar business meant to build skills in the young women.  But mostly I don’t see it.  I see the race for winning badges and raising local funds beat out the part where young women are meant to learn interactive skills like greeting, assessing people, sales.  Some of the kids are so young they shouldn’t even be out in the street selling anything!

I know it’s not like that all the time.  In fact in my neighborhood two local kids (one girl/one boy) rang my door bell in the afternoon to sell cookies; they had a very good sales pitch and their team work was adorable.  He was there for the heavy lifting, she for the math—somewhat traditional but what the heck!  A parent lurked down on the curb to appropriately assure that cookies were the only thing being perused but the sales job belonged to the kids alone.  I bought more boxes than I could ever eat in my lifetime because I could see the young people learning something.  Julia would have been proud.

And learning something has to be the point of it all because the cookies are not that good!  I always take them into my office to save myself from succumbing to the starchy, addictive sugar.  Between me and other staff in my office we have cookies covered until this time next year.

OK the thin mints are not that bad!

Jewelle Gomez is the author of 7 books including the lesbian vampire classic novel, The Gilda Stories.  Her new play about James Baldwin will be produced in September 2011. Follow her on Twitter: VampyreVamp.  Or her website: www.jewellegomez.com

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2 comments

  • Diane says:

    So true..I was accosted by a woman just the other day as I left the grocery store, when I asked where her Girl Scout was she replied “at piano lessons”. I told her when her Girl Scout was finished with the lesson I’d be glad to buy some cookies from her. The mother was not pleased, but I’m with you, it’s to teach the kids something more than Mommy and Daddy will do it for you. Thin mints are the bane of my existence..damn you Girl Scout Cookies!

  • Kim Reed says:

    No other peppermint chocolate cookie has quite the same delicate snap. The inner cookie seems lighter this year than in the past.