The two girls knocked on my door. They wore Kelly green berets and green vests. I greeted them.
The two Girl Scouts went through their spiel. “We’re selling cookies, sir,” they began.
“Do you have any identification?” said I.
They exchanged looks. “Wait, what?”
“Well,” I said amiably, “how do I know you’re really Girl Scouts? A little proof would be nice. Dangerous world out there.”
I have a deep appreciation for Girl Scouts, and each year I buy a LOT of Thin Mints, which has made me quasi-famous in local Girl Scout circles. Last year, for example, my salesgirl won a pink Cadillac.
So the tallest girl gave me her name, rank, and serial number. “And this is my new American flag badge,” she added. “We had to iron it on because my mom can’t sew.”
“How about you?” I said to the girl with pigtails. “Got any ID?”
Pigtails had no ID, but she did proudly display her proficiency badges, her Junior Leadership pin, her Junior Aide Award, her Daisy Safety Award pin, and her Purple Heart.
Then Pigtails described in painstaking detail how she earned her Junior First Aid badge, a process wherein she not only learned how to care for injured persons, but she rode shotgun in an ambulance, toured an emergency room, and extinguished a three-story residential fire single handedly.
I pointed to another badge. “And what’s that badge for?”
“Oh, this one?” she said. “This is the Junior Inside Government badge.”
The Junior Inside Government merit badge requires Girl Scouts to explore the ethics of American government. To do this, girls are given faux countries and charged with the task of making up fun, nonsensical, whacky laws for their countries, sort of like Congress.
I asked what kinds of laws they came up with for their faux countries.
“Um,” said one girl. “Well, my country was called the United States of Amandica. I had a law where you got to eat candy with every meal. Oh, and each house was required to have one swimming pool. Vegetables were illegal. And all dads had to have a permit before eating beans.”
I pointed to another badge. “What’s this one?”
“This my Lifesaving badge. This one was really hard. I had to basically swim in a pool for-EVER and learn how to save someone’s life in the water. I learned about things like spinal injuries, rescuing a drowning person, and how to give CPR.”
“You mean you know CPR?” I said.
She nodded proudly.
I pointed to another badge.
“This one?” said Pigtails. “This is the Playing the Past badge. I got this one when I was little. This is when you pick a period in history and you pretend you’re back in that time.
“I picked Colonial America. Me and my mom dressed up like colonial people and we had a party and ate colonial food.”
“Trust me,” her friend added, “you do not want to know what the colonists ate.”
I asked about another badge.
“This is the Social Butterfly badge,” the girl said. “It’s where you learn how to talk to people at, like, a dinner party or something. You have to make conversation and not be awkward, and be super polite. You have to use your manners, learn how to use the right silverware, and learn table manners from other countries, like, eating with chopsticks.”
“Yeah,” said Pigtails. “And then we had to write a BUNCH of thank-yous afterward. My mom said it was just like Junior League only with shorter people.”
After they explained several more badges, including the Practice with Purpose badge, Digital Leadership badge, Simple Meals badge, Staying Fit badge, Robots badge, and the Financial Management badge, I asked about another patch.
“This one? This is the Starts With Kindness badge.”
The girls explained that to earn this particular merit badge, Scouts are expected to hold the door for someone, give hugs at random, leave happy notes around town, make gifts for others, or call someone who is not feeling well.
“For my badge, I wrote chalk messages of encouragement on the sidewalks,” said Pigtails. “‘Cause I’m really good at art. So I wrote on the sidewalk, ‘you’re an amazing person,’ or ‘you can do this,’ or ‘you are loved.’”
The other girl said, “For my badge, my mom and I baked desserts for everyone at my grandpa’s nursing home, and, honestly, we just showed everyone that we care about them, and how special they are, and everyone wanted their pictures with me.”
After our pleasantries my sales professionals got down to cutting bait like two savvy businesswomen.
“So how many cookies can we put you down for this year, Mister Dietrich?”
I paid in cash. I hope those girls win a few Coupe DeVilles.