Friday, February 10, 2012

"Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!"*

             What's going on with The Girl Scouts of The United States of America? How come, whenever they're depicted in a movie their name is changed? It'll be Wilderness Girls, or Girl Campers or Female Firestarters or Adolescent Hunter-Gatherer Dames of The Country in the Middle of North America. But they're never called Girl Scouts on TV or in the movies. Never. And I got to thinking that was kind of suspicious and so I started doing a little Girl Scout reconnaissance. (Alright, the term "reconnaissance" is misleading. I didn't send a satellite to hover over a well-known Girl Scout campground. I didn't even hide in some bushes and take notes while they sang "Kumbayah" and grilled up some hobo sandwiches. Are they still calling them hobo sandwiches or is that P.I. (politically incorrect)? All I really did was look online at their website.)

             March 12th is the Girl Scouts hundred year anniversary, it turns out. And the gal who started the scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, taught that first troop of gals how navigate by the stars, camp, hike, identify poison ivy, do first aid and play basketball. (I thought it was weird that she taught them to play basketball since, in my mind, basketball's only been around since about 1940. So I had to research basketball, too, just to see if the Girl Scouts were lying to me. But yeah, basketball's been around since 1891, officially. And before that since the time people began throwing things into or through other things. So forever, really.)

             Okay, I had a point, I swear, but it escapes me at the moment. I think it had something to do with how shady the Girl Scouts are about never letting anyone use their name for the sake of entertainment. Are they afraid their pristine reputation will be sullied? And why are the cookies called different things in different states? Caramel deLites are Samosas. Peanut Butter Patties are Tagalongs. Shortbread is called Trefoils? What? Why all the intentional confusion? They aren't so great! I should know. I was a Girl Scout for about two whole years. Those cookies don't sell themselves, you know. And we didn't get to go on a field trip or camping trip unless we sold enough to cover the cost. And my dad was so worried about us going door-to-door selling stuff (not to mention keenly empathetic to those who feel compelled to buy crap from school children) that my parents usually ended up buying my cookies. And then sticking them in the freezer. And I always felt kind of bad because not only did I not actually, physically sell any cookies, my parents were essentially just handing me a check and begging for it to be over. (If I were a parent, I would do precisely this same thing. Who wants their pre-adolescent child ringing the doorbells of the sad and lonely?)

            And those badges were hard to earn and then you had to spend hours sewing them onto your sash, only to find that when you progressed into a different level of Girl Scout (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, etc.) you got a new sash and effectively lost all those badges you'd worked so hard to get. 

Phyllis and Hannah Nefler "Do the Freddie" in Troop Beverly Hills.

            And one time, I peed my brown Brownie uniform (clever color choice, that) at the Girl Scout Jamboree. It was quite ironic, actually, because I was partnered up and holding hands with a girl who wet her pants every day at school until fourth grade, and I finally had an inkling of her ongoing humiliation. And she was perhaps the most understanding person in the world to pee your pants in front of, if you had to pee your pants. And I did, because I couldn't find the stupid bathroom.

             I'm sure this makes it seem like I've had a lifelong vendetta against the Girl Scouts and that I've been plotting a way to get back at them for years, and I haven't, I promise! Unless it turns out somewhere down the line that they're some sort of front for a sex-slave ring (which, okay, they probably aren't), I will maintain that they're doing their best to make little girls plucky and resourceful. Making them work their heinies off for the opportunity to sleep on dirt with spiders. But I am dying to know why they can't allow their precious name to be used for entertainment value. It's just a little bit suspicious. That's all I'm saying.
             And don't be surprised if this post gets taken down because the Girl Scouts won't allow me to write their name in this blog.

*This quote from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (John Huston, 1948) makes me especially happy because in Troop Beverly Hills (Jeff Kanew, 1989) they copy this same line. BUT, because the Girl Scouts of The United States of America clearly won't allow the use of their name or anything about them, Troop Beverly Hills had to call themselves "The Wilderness Girls" and the badges "patches." So the line is, "Patches? We don't need no stinking patches!"

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