Hot Child in the City

Remember in 1991 when Demi Moore squatted down, and a girl child fell out?

Less memorably, remember the Friday night in 2000 when I put my knees to my ears and emitted a squalling bundle of flesh?

Now, some years later, I’ll be tumpluckered if a national organization hasn’t gone and named itself after those two kids. There was a Scout. And then there was Girl. And then there was Scout Girl.

Wait a minute.

That’s not quite right.

What we need here is a deranged hospital nurse (one with the magical ability to knit together distant years and hospitals) who, for unexplainable nefarious purposes, is willing to switch Demi and Jocelyn’s babies at birth. Then, thanks to her unhinged machinations, we’ll have something more like Girl Scout.

Yea, that’s got more of a ring to it–much more marketable and less pedophilic than the whole “scouting girls” bidness.

When I see the words “Girl Scout” in that order, in fact, I find myself Do-Si-Do-ing through a vortex of Thin-Mint-heavy decades, through cyclonic winds of time that bash me about the head and ears with Carmel deLites.

I am hurled back to 1977, when all I wanted was to earn my Cookie Patch.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should also note I wanted a pair of those new Nike sneakers. White, with a blue swoosh.

Maybe also I wanted a pair of HASH jeans, with the star on the pocket. (The star would be prominently featured during Ladies Choice songs at Skate City, when I would circle the rink with a big yellow comb tucked into the star pocket. Onlookers would be distracted by the glamour of the star and the comb as they caught fire under the illumination of the disco ball; they might not even notice I was trying, futilely, to do “bouncers” to “Blinded by the Light” with my pal Lisa Mackin instead of falling in love on wheels with some Eric Estrada look-alike.)

As long as I’m in True Confessions mode, I can admit that in addition to wanting the swoosh and the HASH and a badge for a sash, I also rewy, rewy wanted the K-Tel Stars album.

Holy and sacred K.C. & the Sunshine Band, but I needed that album. You see, I had in my closet some fine, metallic boogie shoes–rather a ballet flat, actually. And I wanted to put them on. And then I wanted to boogie with you. After that, Cliff Richard and I would be compelled to warn you that some nameless “She” was just a Devil Woman. Even more pressing was the fact that she had evil on her mind–AND she was going to get you not from the front, which would be a fair fight, but from behind.

And that’s the strategy of a coward, Devil Woman. A coward, you emasculating vixen.

Clearly, this album and its contents spoke to my life; they were tailor-made for a ten-year-old dancing around her basement bedroom in a split-level ranch house. Down there? Sure, we had orange shag carpet and dark wood paneling. But we also had boogie shoes, we had Devil Women, we had–thank you Atlanta Rhythm Section–“voodoo in the vibes.”

Oh, yea, baby. I was ten, and I was a Girl Scout, and I knew what I needed.

With a pair of Nikes, some HASH jeans, a hot LP, and a mood ring, I was ready to roll my way through my Scout troop’s requirements and straight towards that cookie patch, fo’ sho’. Armed with the necessities, I was ready to sell me some cookies.

The neighborhood wouldn’t know what had hit it until it woke up one day to find the chimneys stuffed with Savannahs, the gutters littered with Scot Teas, the driveways paved with Samoas.

Indeed, in the Spring of ’77, I nearly calloused my soft white knuckles by knocking on doors, pulling out the order form, and trying to strongarm Mrs. Starkweather and Mrs. Bergendahl into helping me meet my cookie quota. I was on fire for the sale; I was the Tony Robbins of Tagalongs; on my honor, I would canvas the neighborhood as I served God, my country, and helped people at all times by selling them vast quantities of Trefoils.


After about an hour of really tiring trudging around the subdivisionit was not a flat place, I’ll have you know–, during which I managed to sell a mere 8 boxes of cookies and experience the death of a dream, I realized that door-to-door sales might not be my forte. I was reluctant to scuff my new Nikes by inserting a foot into the slamming doors; and I was averse to banging a HASHed hip against unopened screen doors.

My K-Tel album was at home. And it needed me. More than the Girl Scouts ever could.

Ten minutes later, as I twirled around the basement with Thelma Houston, both of us “IIIIINNNNN LOOOOVVEEE,” I stopped short. Good-night, John Boy, but I was being such a spaz. I could never be truly bitchin’ and funkadelic without…

…the patch. As a creature of rad accumulation, I still wanted the patch. I just didn’t want to have to sell cookies to get my cookie patch. Selling wasn’t fun.

Twirling was.


Naturally, she came through, for both me and my sister, writing The Girl Scouts of America a tremendous cheque that year. And did you know a chest freezer can hold half a cow PLUS 32 boxes of cookies? Bless the chest. It coughed up Thin Mints year ’round for our family, box after box. The chest is the best. Frozen Thin Mints aren’t bad, either.


Thirty years later, I have a seven-year-old daughter. She’s a Girl Scout, and it’s cookie season. The order forms lounge on our counter, next to the cheque book.

Fittingly, she is indifferent about moving product.

But she does covet a patch.

Pan downstairs now, to the lowest level of our house, past the orange shag carpet. Zoom in tighter. Yes, there it is: the chest freezer.

From now on, any time I find myself in a Climax Blues Band kind of mood–you know, when I keep on lookin’ for a sign in the middle of the night, but I can’t see a light, no I can’t see the light, maybe I’ll remember I can look for a way to take me through the night–and you’ll know where to find me.

In the basement. Near the open freezer. Gnawing on a Thin Mint. And thinking about how the sewing badge I earned in Girl Scouts in 1977 remains safety-pinned to my sash. Right next to the Cookie Patch.





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38 responses to “Hot Child in the City”

  1. Maddy Avatar

    K-tel? Now there’s a blast from the past, one I might prefer to forget come to think of it.

  2. liv Avatar

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say you might want to smack me, but as busy as you were in the spring of 1977, you could have paused and celebrated a tiny liv coming into the world. a liv that would grow into a brownie and then a scout and sell samoas and thin mints and trefoils and tagalongs and do it all while wearing her own nike pale blue swoosh tennis shoes with the pom-pom socks. good times.

  3. Tai Avatar

    K-Tel. As Seen on TV. Not Available in Stores.

    I remember the yellow comb. Made by…Tandy? Candy? Oh damn. I forget. But it HAD to be that comb made by that certain company. Nothing else would do.

    Oh, go eat some cookies! I’ll remember sooner or later, and you bet your little white roller skates I’ll come back and post it here!

  4. the frogster Avatar
    the frogster

    Samoas are the best girl scout cookie ever.

    I was more a “Bay City Rollers” guy myself. “S-A-TUR-DAY Night!”

    I might have killed for some Nike sneakers in 1977. We had to go to Sears and get the ones that looked ALMOST like Nikes, but not quite. My friends at school called them “Bobos.” I got in a few fistfights in my younger days.

  5. flutter Avatar

    are you seriously going to deny the draw of menudo?


  6. jen Avatar

    da do run run run da do run run…huh, what?

  7. August Avatar

    This post should be called “A Retro Retrospective.” Thank you for brightening my day…

    For a box of Thin Mints I’ll send you two cases of Vanillakipferln.

    And just so you know, Hash jeans are all the rage here in Berlin.


  8. AmyTree Avatar

    That is awesome… I loved Thin Mints.
    Never did get to be a Girl Scout – I went the far nerdier route and joined 4-H. And in case THAT wasn’t enough to get me teased at school I decided that the best project to specialise in was Poultry. Yup. Good times.

    My mom did buy a whole crate of chocolate bars off me though, to spare me the horror of touting them all round the farmhouses. *shudder* Still don’t like sales! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. oreneta Avatar

    I had the Goofy Greats album, which still has some good and totally hilarious songs on it…and some really bad ones too.

  10. Jazz Avatar

    Ah, Girl Scouts, and K-tel and orange shag carpet.

    Thank god time flies.

  11. Diana Avatar


    I’v just been transported to a vortex of shame and supressed memories. I had the white Nikes with the blue swoosh, the HASH jeans (the wide legs covering the shoes when you stood, letting them flash out only when you walked). I didn’t have the K-Tel albums but I could match you song for song in the roller rink (our troop took skating lessons together on of a Saturday morning).

    And now I have a cacophony of ALL those damn songs in my head and shall be forced to hate you with a dark, sparlky passion until the horror fades and I can compress all these memories back into the trunk (we had no chest) from which they came.

    Until then, I’ll just curl up in a fetal position and let it carry me away with those sky rockets in flight! Afternoon delight! AAAAAaaaaAfternoon delight!

    (I’ve ordered my cookies from my friend’s girl. They should be here in 4-8 weeks.)

  12. Glamourpuss Avatar

    The whole cookie shebang doesn’t happen here, hence I had no incentive and found myself thrown out of the Brownies for fighting a girl who insulted my dog.


    BTW, rumour has it that Cliff Richard prefers it from behind, and not from no Devil Woman neither…


  13. Claudia Avatar

    I was a Girl Scout. And I failed miserably. I hated other girls. Still do. LOL! Now, had they allowed me to be a Boy Scout, I would have been the best of them all! Girl Scouts….*bites her lip*, they scare me to death. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. furiousBall Avatar

    I remember the day I made the decision, that’s right the decision

    to live every day according to the lyrics of Don Johnson’s Heartbeat…

    “I don’t care what you say
    you can give it away

    Your money don’t mean much to me.
    I’ve been out on my own
    gonna got it alone now

    ‘Cause that’s the way it’s got to be.
    Ev’rybody tells me how I can beat the odds for now.
    I’ve been standing by the fire
    but I just can’t feel the heat.

    Heartbeat – I’m looking for a heartbeat “

    I just can’t feel the heat…

  15. Shieldmaiden96 Avatar

    I think you win the award for putting the most songs in my head AT ONCE. To the point where I feel like I’m having multiple auditory hallucinations.
    Yes, 1977-78 was also a season of lust for me, although it wasn’t the patch I wanted, it was the dark green beret. I had the whole pinafore, the green socks, everything. I have this terrible feeling that if I’d been born at the right time I’d have been some sort of brownshirt youth just because I had a thing for uniforms.
    (Maybe I became and EMT because of the patches and badges. No beret though, sadly.)

  16. SQT Avatar

    Gawd, Furiousball kills me every time.

    My 7-year-old daughter decided that after last-years cookie sales she didn’t want to be a Girl Scout anymore. I can’t imagine why. Her father sold the cookies as the office– preventing her from actually doing any work– and we bought at least 15 boxes of cookies (samoas and thin mints *mmmmmmmmmmmmm*)

    I sure as heck would’ve liked that deal when I was her age. Spoiled is all I can say. No appreciation for the finer (thin mints) things in life.

  17. rak Avatar


    and hey! fashion some sort of snow hauling thang and send it up my way… i’ll gladly give you our snow!

  18. Hammer Avatar

    ahh the good old days when a pair of jeans and a K-Tel record was all that was needed to keep a kid happy… Now it’s Ipods cell phones and $500 video games.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    hey j,
    i’m pretty sure that’s MY k-tel album. ;P

  20. steve Avatar

    You connected every K-tel dot fo’ sho’! I think I chased your pocket around the rink (from a safe distance) before I fell and broke me wrist, at which time you rushed over and rewarded me with you much coveted attention. Fleeting, it was, but sweet.

    Is it true that tagalongs have changed their name? Whatever, put me down for a box.

  21. lime Avatar

    sigh, at ten i was in love with andy gibb and i just knew if i had jordache jeans and addidas sneakers that if he ever saw me shadow dancing he’d be overcome with a desire to be my shadow.

    i also coveted an entire
    GS uniform because my nana was a troop leader and all my cousins were Girl scouts. sadly, my mother who had deprived me of jordache and addidas also deprived me of beanies and sashes. she said no daughter of her was ever going to be a GS due to the fact that my mother had been FORCED to be a GS by her mother. weird logic, but there ya go.

  22. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Ah so funny and evokes similar memories for me also! I hated selling and in those days, they weren’t mint but just 1 layer with be Prepared on them…I guessed a warning that they weren’t all that good!
    My husband loves those mints frozen or otherwise. They should have them year round as whenever the craving strikes there is nary a girl scout to be found!

  23. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    And those badges? I think my mom actually had to end up knitting the damn square! And I laugh at my getting my Housekeepers’ badge when I look at my house some days!

  24. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    It’s Girl Scout cookie season? How did this happen? It’s usually in March.

    I have to go to the supermarket now, or in front of the bank, or over by the Benefit store. I’ll be seein’ you in all the old familiar places.

    Duty calls. I’ll have one box of each, please.

  25. frannie Avatar

    I love me some tagalongs!!!!!

  26. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    Yep, I went door to door in Mississippi and sold GS cookies, too. I still love me some Thin Mints.

    And, I made the move.

  27. Balou Avatar

    Craving Samoas in Wisconsin. I’d so buy a few boxes if someone would just knock on my door.

    Hey! I met the guy who invented mood rings in the 70’s. He’s very rich with a lovely winter home in Florida, on the water. I’ll bet his ring is always red.

  28. Minnesota Matron Avatar
    Minnesota Matron

    And my husband spent the evening hunched over an electric guitar with his near-teen son, on the same journey. I watched — and then read — and understood.

  29. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    I might have to break out my Thin Mints post in honor of this one.

    No. Too painful. I’ll just keep it buried deep inside.

    And thanks for getting me “That’s the Way — uh huh, uh huh — I like it — uh huh, uh huh” in my head. Thanks a lot.

  30. Claire Avatar

    If I lived in your neighborhood I’d buy cookies from Girl. I just bought 5 boxes from a couple of my students. Yummy! Good luck Girl!!

  31. actonbell Avatar

    Rabbit, Rabbit!

    Omigosh! I just realized that I don’t know where my sash is. How could all this slip my mind? Boy, I remember K-tel records and roller skating and going door to door selling cookies. I must admit, though, that Mom also took my order form into work with her, and so did a lot of the job for me. My most memorable order, though, was the one where the woman would not answer her door, but banged on her window, then opened it–I took her order through the screen, because she obviously did not want anyone in the house to know that she was ordering cookies. I was afraid that we’d both get in trouble–with somebody…

    And my mood ring was always black, don’t know why.

    Great post, and good luck in February!

  32. neva Avatar

    even as i type, we have a half-eaten box of Thin Mints in the freezer.

    my husband doesn’t understand my need to buy copious boxes of cookies from random Girl Scouts i encounter in front of the store/at the mall/in dark alleys… i miss those days when selling a few boxes of yummy deliciousness was all it took to A)get a pretty badge and B) elevate my sense of self-esteem.

    Oh, and speaking of mood rings (loved that) Actonbell… my mood ring was always black, too! what’s up with that??

    Long as i’m here (and i am) Rabbit, Rabbit! ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. geewits Avatar

    I loved being a Brownie Scout, but after about 3 months of Girl Scouts, I quit. All we did was have a short meeting and then play outside. It was like almost free afterschool daycare. Years later after I moved to a larger city, I became friends with an actual Girl Scout that belonged to an actual Troop that did actual Things. I felt gypped by the people in my tiny hometown. But I avoided my friend’s house during cookie season, because she and her mother became deranged. There must be something in those cookies.

  34. Soon Avatar

    …and I know every one of those people you mentioned!! Good times, good times!

  35. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I think all the Girl Scouts in San Francisco moved to Minnesota.

    They are all MIA. It’s not right. La-la Land, no kidding.

    If I had a mood ring, it would be an angry color now with a tinge of forlorn.

  36. choochoo Avatar

    I was in the scouts, once upon a time. Granted, it only lasted for 24 hours. There were no cookies. All they did was tie knots and solute the flag. I can do that at home. Although I prolly won’t.

  37. pistols at dawn Avatar
    pistols at dawn

    I purchased a box of Samoas the other day and actually had the thought, “Man, when I grow up, I’m going to buy like 100 boxes of these things.”

    Then, I realized that I’ve been grown up for quite awhile, and that I should probably accept that, and then get some better, non-cookie-related life plans. Or a job that pays me well enough to afford that many Samoas.

  38. Calamity Jane Avatar
    Calamity Jane

    We have Brownies and Girl Guides over here but since I totally lack ambition I didn’t ‘get’ the whole badge thing. I remember being aged about 11 and trying to get one once, can’t remember which badge but it involved making a baby’s toy. I made this mouse from felt and added my own unique twist, if you added pins it became a hedgehog, a double duty toy – bonus, baby can play and then Mummy can play later too … needless to say I didn’t get the badge.

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