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Home: The Toast

Previously by Abbey Fenbert: The Pitch Meeting for Wishbone

On my honor:

The horse was too high. I was no coward. It’s just there was an assessment, and logic deemed the horse was way too high up.

I will never be good at selling things. Dad will never take the cookie sales sheet “to his work” and sell boxes by the dozen, yet I will covet the catalogue of prizes and imagine that thermos with the dancing samoa is mine.

Our most popular campfire song was a rousing but truly shuddersome ballad of the sinking of the Titanic. Pretty sure my mom was the one who taught it to the troop.

Despite reciting the pledge to “serve God and my country” in the Girl Scout Promise, the fact is that I do not believe in “deities” or “nation-states” and have no intention of rendering services unto them. Nor do I “help people at all times.” Right now I’m lounging barefoot in a papasan chair; I’m barely helping myself. As for living “by the Girl Scout Law,” I have never recognized the Girl Scouts as a legitimate legislative body.

One camping trip, I refused to go to the bathroom for at least two days in a row. The outhouse was weak. Not so my will.

Was it bad that on our “Middle Eastern Cultures Field Trip” we did a make-your-own-headscarves craft? They didn’t seem to mind at the mosque, but I’m still not sure my seafoam-green lace hijab was entirely halal. Cool field trip though.

Best field trip: the sleepover at the science museum.

Worst field trip: horseback riding. Get lower, horse. Hard pass.

The reason I went on a rogue mission to earn the Friendship Badge was that losing out on the riding badge really stung. NB: The Friendship Badge was super easy.

“Oh, the Lord is good to me / And so I thank the Lord / For giving me / The things I need / The sun and the rain and the apple seed / The Lord is good to me.” That is the Johnny Appleseed Grace, a perennial favorite of Troop 526. At least in the early years, there was a lot of praying at our meetings. Do people know how much praying goes on?

Flags, too. There are lots of flags.

Reading the Girl Scout Handbook is a good way to demonstrate troop spirit while also not participating in any group activity. Did you know that Juliette Gordon Low pronounced “idea” as “idear?” Did you know that periods happen? These are things you can learn from the Girl Scout Handbook!

Once, in Brownies, I stepped on a girl’s foot. Just to see what violence was like.

Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior. How these ranks link together in a chain of promotion mystifies all and we dare not ask.

At International Friendship Camp (it was in Canada) I made one friend. I thought she’d be amused if I sang to her the funny new lyrics I invented to the “Make new friends / keep the old / one is silver and the other’s gold” song. So I sang “Make new friends / forget the old / they are stupid and growing mold!” But she was not amused.

International Friendship Camp exponentially increased the number of flags present.

Yay, Winter Camp! Let’s all go to Winter Camp. Winter Camp is really just “winter, not at your house” because we stay in a building with indoor plumbing.

We meet with the Cadettes, and it is like visiting a convent of 21st-century nuns: their devotion has not diminished with their numbers, but anxiety flickers across their brows with every mention of the future. Will we be the ones to carry Juliette’s torch? As these accomplished teens regale us with stories of the service projects they’ve organized and awards they’ve won, my eyes go wide with ambition. But my heart knows the truth. I will never bridge to Cadettes. Cadetteship is a bridge too far. A horse too high.

I was more of an observer in the crafting of my Sit-Upon.

The chorus of the Titanic song was “Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives / It was sad when the gre-eat ship went down, down, down!”

My single greatest (and perhaps only) contribution to Troop 526 was the writing of cookie sale advertisements in rhyming couplets. We read these during church announcements. Upon reflection, I’m not sure anyone asked me to do this.

I wanted camp to be more like the Molly Saves the Day book wherein American Girl Molly plays a large-scale game of Capture the Flag and emerges victorious due to her superior knowledge of the D-Day invasion. Our Girl Scout camps never involved thinly veiled reenactments of World War II.

Perhaps by now you suspect that I was a difficult, moody, asocial child. Perhaps you should direct your attention to my Friendship Badge.

I’m not sure that I or my mother ever felt any sincere desire to participate in Girl Scouts, but we did, for six years, through all the Bridge Ceremonies and star pins, through the four seasons of camp, through several mutually embarrassing presentations of Mother’s Day crafts and many pitchers of Tang. Why did we do it? Female empowerment? Community engagement? An attempt to instill in me some combination of competence, generosity, cooperation and salesmanship? The reasons may never be clear to either of us.

(Thin Mints. The reason is Thin Mints.)

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Abbey Fenbert is a nomadic playwright from Detroit, MI. She has an MFA from Boston University and a cursory knowledge of classic lit from PBS Kids.

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