For better or for worse, as long as cookies aren't involved
(excuse me, would you like to buy a box of evil?)
When I married my husband twenty-five years ago, we made all sorts of promises to one another. Basically, we agreed to tolerate each other when we’re cranky, not bail on the marriage when one person fails at using the laundry hamper or driving a stick-shift, and not embarrass one another during parent-teacher conferences or in front of the in-laws. He promised to remember to put the toilet seat down, and I promised not to hack him into little pieces if he forgot.
Of course I’m paraphrasing the actual marriage vows but you get the idea.
As seemingly complete as those marital promises were, they were mute on one important situation. In fact, if I’d known then what I know now, I would have written an additional vow into the mix: the pledge to never, ever, bring Girl Scout cookies into the house.
It’s not that I have anything against Girl Scouts. I don’t. In fact, I was almost a Girl Scout myself once. If it weren’t for that unfortunate incident involving tomato soup and a stomach virus at the Brownie orientation meeting, I’m sure I, too, would have enjoyed a promising Scout career.
The cookies, however, are a different story. In fact, I’m absolutely certain that Girl Scout cookies are tools of the devil. Not only are they packaged in deceptively wholesome packaging, but they’re given cutesy names like Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, and Tagalongs. Don’t be fooled by their innocent appearance though. It’s all part of their master plan to infiltrate your home and make you eat them.
As if the cookies themselves weren’t irresistible enough, every Girl Scout cookie table is manned with at least one achingly adorable Cindy Lou Who look-a-like. Cindy Lou Who is the ultimate in Girl Scout cookie weaponry. Who can resist her soft, sweet voice, dimpled cheeks, and missing front teeth? It’s nearly impossible to walk past this doe-eyed creature without feeling compelled to buy all of her remaining inventory.
Through the years, I’ve learned that the trick to being able to pass by Cindy Lou Who without incident is to avoid eye contact. I just pretend that she’s not even there. My husband Dan is much kinder than I am and can never, ever, ever say no to Cindy Lou or her cookies. Invariably, their seductive sugary siren call will weaken his resolve, and before you can say Thin Mints, he’s agreed to buy four boxes of them.
This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that, at any given time, Dan and I exist in one of three states of being: on a diet, thinking about going on a diet, or feeling guilty for just having fallen off a diet. Once those demon confections are in the house, Dan will abandon all reason and kick his diet to the curb. Seeing him ditch his diet makes it especially tough for me to stick with mine. It’s not that I’m weak-willed; it’s just that if I have to suffer, I’m bringing him along with me.
Last week, Dan and I went to our local hardware store. As we were checking out, I caught a glimpse of The Enemy. Right next to the exit door, there was a strategically placed table loaded with Girl Scout cookies and manned by three impossibly cute little sugar pushers and their adult chaperone. Their eyes locked onto their prey as soon as they saw my husband. “Excuse me, sir,” the one girl asked in a sweet, sing-song voice. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”
Of course, this request came from the smallest, most adorable little girl among them. I could see Dan weakening. No way would this encounter end well.
I sent thoughts of reinforcement and good judgment to him telepathically, just as I do when he’s about to wear muddy shoes inside the house or volunteer our house for family gatherings: just say no thank you, just say no thank you...
Despite my best psychic efforts, he headed over to the table. I felt the sting of defeat as I watched Dan pull out his wallet. Visions of yet another failed diet clouded my brain and sank my willpower battleship.
But then, this man, to whom I’ve been married for a quarter of a century and who I know better than anyone else in my life, did not buy any cookies. Instead, he handed a $5.00 bill to the littlest girl and said, “I don’t want any cookies, but can I give you a few bucks as a donation?”
Something about an old dog and new tricks came to mind as I thought about what had just happened. Even after all these years, he’s still capable of wholly and superbly surprising me.
Maybe there’s still hope for the laundry hamper.
**image courtesy of the talents of my son, Ryan Kern, the greatest model ever, Alice Moore, and Alice's photographer mom, Melissa.