It’s Girl Scout cookie season, which means we need to avert eye contact and look preoccupied anytime we happen upon a girl in uniform.
I try to avoid them. The cookies, I mean. If you put a cookie stand in front of the emergency room door and I had lost an arm in an accident, I would make getting more cookies my priority. I would figure, “Well, I’ll just have to learn to sign things with my left hand. Good thing modern life doesn’t require as much signing as it used to.”
Five minutes later, I would be passed out from shock, and when the orderlies came they’d say, “This is odd. That’s a cookie in his hand. Did this guy stop to buy Girl Scout shortbread cookies instead of getting his arm attached?”
“No,” the other orderly would say, “those are Trefoils.”
“Trefoils are shortbreads.”
“I like the Samoas, myself.”
“Lemon creams aren’t bad,” I would moan. “If there’s nothing else left.”
My point is that I try to avoid them but fail in the end, and then I buy everything.
You feel like a bad person if you do not buy them. “Hello, would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”
“Yes, of course I would. I would like you to pour all the varieties into a feed bag and strap it to my face and let me go to a dark room to be alone with my shame. Unfortunately, I have invested heavily in pants, and prefer not to buy an entirely new set of garments to accommodate the jiggly avoirdupois these things will produce in my midsection.
“I mean, if I ate the quantity of cookies I wish to consume, you could slide an entire pencil into the tunnel where my belly button once was. So because I cannot control myself, I will do my part to sour you charming children on capitalism and philanthropy. Good day to you.”
But you can’t be safe just by avoiding the tables. Someone in the office will come by with a daughter, all dressed up in uniform, and perform the mortifying sales parade. What are you going to say then? “Sorry, co-worker, I bought them from a strange troop in the skyway, and there’s no possible way I could buy more.” Everyone would know that’s a brazen lie. “We have too many Girl Scout cookies” has never been uttered by anyone.
What is it about these things? What ineffable essence makes them so irresistible?
It’s not that the cookies are great, although they are. It’s when they show up. Everyone forgets about Girl Scout cookies until they reappear, and then we remember: This is the first true sign of early late winter. Pretty soon it’ll be middle late winter. We’ll probably finish all the cookies we bought in late late winter, and as we polish off the last three Thin Mints — four would be excessive, although we wish we’d just had two — it’ll be time to look ahead to the warm days to come.
That’ll be the day the grocery store magazine racks start talking about working on your beach bod NOW. If only the advice were simple: A) Go back in time. B) See the Girl Scouts table. C) Throw them $20 and run.
Sure, they might chase you down to give you your cookies; but that’s good exercise for them, too.
James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @Lileks.