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 subdivision—it 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.
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.