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Pigtails, Ponytails, and Peanut Butter Patties

I had a waking nightmare last night. I was walking through my hometown without a care in the world when I was approached by two leprechauns peddling childhood memories that I could have sworn looked a lot like Girl Scout cookies.

Well ok, they weren’t leprechauns exactly, but they were short and festooned with gold piping, berets, and I swear one of them was menacingly brandishing a set of bagpipes. Neither were older than 8, and their pigtails, ponytails, and distinctive green uniforms told me right away that they were part of an elite army peddling spiritual salvation in a cardboard box. Each proudly wore a sash laden with awards announcing her prowess on her path towards womanhood. Heaven help me, these were Girl Scouts.

I could distinctly see badges that indicated these girls were expert chefs, budding rocket scientists, keen outdoor enthusiasts, lethal marksmen, and one patch that if I’m not mistaken indicated that Pac Man is in fact a game that can be beaten if you know the right cheat code. Unfortunately, just like her Leprechaun sisterhood, I was quite sure she’d keep that secret.

One of the girls in my dream, a sweet li’l angel with seemingly innocuous pigtails and disarming dimples, had so many merit badges strung across her chest that she reminded me of those proud Soviet generals standing atop Lenin’s Tomb. Nose high, chin up, chest adorned with so much metal that Mr. T would struggle to stay upright under the weight of all the bling. There, high atop her illustrious perch, I imagined this pint-sized overachiever reviewing the parade of lesser soldiers marching by. A smug smile of accomplishment upon her face masking her inner thoughts as they screamed out “These brave fellas look hungry! They need more cookies!”

Naturally, those who refused to buy the cookies suffered a fate more horrible than death. It wasn’t a quick death, either. Oh, no. It was a progressive dissection of the soul.

It began with the word please. If that failed to open the wallet, it progressed to the much feared pretty please. If that still failed to pry the Benjamins from the unwitting victims hand, he’d get the carefully calculated and well practiced tilt of the head coupled with a flash of a smile still missing baby teeth. They might even deliver a story about how the troop was planning to use the money from cookie sales to send the first Girl Scout to the moon.

I could feel myself caving under this intense interrogation. Those beside me were falling by the wayside one by one. Until, like John Wayne, I stood alone. I was all that stood between humanity and the evil Girl Scout Empire. And, even though I looked to the ceiling for support, Obi Wan abandoned me to my fate.

I resisted and resisted until the troop leader took over. She was clearly an overworked mother who took me aside and said, “Look, I know they taste like crap. I know they’ve gotten smaller. I know they’ve become more expensive. But, if you don’t buy a box of cookies, the Girl Scout Cookie Masters will send them to remedial cookie camp until they meet their quota. That place is a nightmare. They don’t even have TIVO or Wi-Fi.”

I mean, how could I do that to a sweet, innocent little Girl Scout? Seriously? No wi-fi? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

It was ugly. It was peer pressure at its most ruthless. And, Girl Scouts are masters at it. Boy Scouts burn things. They blow things up. They sell coupon books. I get that. What Girl Scouts do though is nothing short of psychological warfare.

In fact, if you see a Girl Scout who has a merit badge shaped like a lamp hanging from her sash of achievements, just give her your wallet. Don’t let her small stature lull you into a sense of safety. That mini-me interrogation badge means you don’t stand a chance against the pleas, the please, the eyeball rolling and the tears she can unleash upon your soul. Trust me when I tell you that there’s a reason the KGB sent agents to Girl Scout Camp every year, and it wasn’t to make sure they weren’t building Saturn V rockets in the kitchen.

I’m a softie. That’s right. I admit it. Pigtails, ponytails, and dimples are my kryptonite. When Girl Scouts come around, I simply cannot say no to the overpriced cardboard flavored treats they’re peddling. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. I can have a shopping cart laden with Pepperidge Farm, Keebler, Tollhouse, and those elusive Mallomars…and I’ll still buy a box of cookies from a Girl Scout.

After tossing and turning for I don’t want to know how long, I finally awoke from my nightmare. Soaked in sweat and a look of terror on my face, I opened the door to my bedroom and peered around the corner. Like that scene in The Shining, I was convinced I would see pigtails and ponytails down the hallway beckoning “Come eat cookies with us, Bud….forever…and ever…and ever…”

Finally accepting that the coast was clear, I tiptoed to the computer. I searched for a support group. Sadly, it’s clear that others are still too afraid to speak out.  So, I did the only thing I could. I gingerly Googled the words and went into the belly of the beast. With shaking hands and sweat pouring from my brow, I entered my zip code into the innocuous looking cookie timer; 134 days. I have 134 days until these pint-sized, sash wearing, mind meddling mini-monsters will be unleashed in my town. That’s 134 days to find a secure hiding place.

But, it’s pointless. I know my fate is already sealed. I am quite certain that my simple search and the tracking cookies on the site put my name near the top of the Girl Scout Cookie Targeting List. I probably have my own satellite by now. They are likely reviewing my credit report, scouring my shopping preferences, updating my travel history, and analyzing my TV viewing preferences. Somewhere, in a warehouse deep in a bunker outside Des Moines, I just know that there is a crack team of pee-wee geniuses already working on the perfect guilt trip to lay on me. They are reviewing stream upon stream of 21st century data to determine whether or not it is best to push the Peanut Butter Sandies, Thin Mints, or Samoas when I walk by, just waiting for their chance to say “Sir, would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

Thin mints. Just give me the thin mints…and a box of Samoas.

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