Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back When a Thin Mint was a Thin Mint

It is that time of year again and while I have already taken delivery of my annual order of Girl-Scout cookies, the troops remain parked outside the market in an effort to move more merchandise.

“Ma'am, would you like to buy some Girl-Scout cookies?”  They look at me with their sweet faces and hopeful eyes.

“No, thank you.  I already bought some.”

I try not to meet eyes with the troop leader perched on her fold out chair behind the table.

“You know you can buy some to stock a local food pantry?”

“Yeah, I know.” I call back to her as I hurriedly push my cart through the sliding doors.

Don’t glare at me, you freakin’ CRAZY.  What the hell ever happened to getting off your ass and going door to door? 

In recent years, I have purchased my cookies from one scout in particular: my friend Leila, first daughter of our dear friends from way back.  They actually birthed two girls, both of which now live by the Girl-Scout law, but I luckily have yet to get stuck placing two orders in one season.  For example, this year my Nick shelled out $8 from his own wallet, without batting an eye, to place his own order for two boxes from little sister Maddie.  He even let her pick which kind.  I have to say that my favorites are still the Thin Mints, pulled right out of the freezer. 

But times have changed.  In addition to changes in sales techniques, e.g.: a spam-email sales solicitation to all non-diabetic friends and family members, the product itself isn’t what it used to be.  The cookies taste roughly the same but the wafer shape is slightly different and dare I say slightly less.  And what passes as a sleeve of Thin Mints today amounts to about a third less cookies, in my estimation, than it used to.  And believe me, I know my Thin Mint sleeves.  We’ve had a love-hate relationship since the mid 90’s.  Back when I was fresh out of college and took my first job issuing returns for a videogame publisher.  Back when I shared an office with both my boss and the company’s giant network servers because business was booming and there wasn’t enough room for all the new hires.  Back when coming back from lunch and opening a box of freshly delivered Girl Scout Cookies to get you through an afternoon of data entry seemed like a good idea.

“Are you sure you should eat all of those?”  My boss Betsi who was equal parts friend looked over at me from across our “office”.

My eyes left my monitor momentarily and I looked down at the now half-eaten sleeve of Thin Mints in the clear, cellophane wrapper next to my key board.

“I don’t know.  How many are in a sleeve?”

“They’re on your desk.  Count them.”  She left the “you, moron” off but it was totally implied so we both started giggling.  That’s what girls in their early twenties who issue returns for a living did in the mid 90’s.  Mocked one another and laughed harder and harder until they were under their desks and had tears running down their faces.  Then the quittin’ bell rang.

I pulled out the uneaten sleeve and counted.

“20.  Is that a lot?”

“Are you listening to yourself?”  She asked.

“Dude, they’re good and they’re small.” 

I have always been a skinny-fat-person.  Admittedly, in my early twenties, I was a slightly less skinny fat person thanks to my commitment to regularly making it to closing time but I was still quite thin.  In fact, we actually had a woman in our department who was the object of several “chubby chaser” men at the time.  She responded to their ads.  Anyway, I remember she used to walk into our office on Monday mornings to recap her weekend romps with my boss and she’d occasionally look over at me like she felt sorry for me.  Like my lack of weight surely handicapped my "game".  I didn’t let it bother me, though.  Especially during Girl Scout cookie season.

“Whatever,” was all my 23 year-old boss-friend could say to her 22 year old subordinate-friend.  I had put her in a difficult spot.  As my boss, she wasn't paying me for stunt-eating; but as my friend, I know she wanted to be supportive and non-judgmental.

We both resumed our duties issuing returns.  I continued to chase mine with Thin Mints and in an instant, the entire sleeve was gone.

“Should I go for the second sleeve?” I asked Betsi across the office.  Reader’s note: you know when you are asking to be dared to eat something as a 22 year-old woman who considers herself reasonably attractive by most standards, you have hit some kind of all-time low.

Betsi looked away from her monitor and at me for just a moment.  “Dude, I don’t know what you’re trying to do.”

“I’m not trying to ‘do’ anything.  They’re good.”  I was getting defensive.

“Do what you gotta do.”  She went back to her monitor.

As I wrestled with the cellophane on the second sleeve, I was given the opportunity to reflect for a moment on appropriate cookie servings.  Growing up, my extremely conservative parents allowed me no more than three Oreos at any time.  I had already blown through that number more than six-fold.  I decided I was satisfied with my act of mid-afternoon rebellion.

I put down the Thin Mints and turned my attention to the real task at hand but soon felt the first wave of consequences in my upper-intestines.

Oh hell.

I looked at the clock.  2 o’clock.

I can make it three more hours.

I adjusted myself in my chair and tried to turn my attention back to my monitor but it was no use.  The cramping was getting worse and was quickly working its way through my lower intestines.

Oh, screw it.  I’m not curing cancer here.  I’m not even using my English degree.

“I don’t feel good.” I announced to the network servers and Betsi.   

“Well, that’s shocking.”  Betsi looked at me mockingly across our office.

“Seriously, I don’t feel good.”

“Seriously, I believe you.  You just ate a whole freakin’ sleeve of Thin Mints and it’s not like that pizza we had for lunch was light.”  The implied “you morons” ran throughout her response.  It was clear I would get no sympathy from her.

I sat there silent for a moment but it didn’t take long for her to continue.

“Look, if your dumb ass is telling me you need to go home three hours early because you ate too many cookies, that’s fine but you’re going to have to tell Cindy.”

Cindy was our collective boss.  Me, Betsi, chubby-chased, and a bunch of other accounts payable/receivable types all reported into her.  And she was pretty bad–ass.  When she wasn’t yelling at warehouse managers, she was sucking on "heaters" (read: cigarettes) outside in the courtyard.  But in that moment, I didn’t care.  Shit was literally about to go down.  I was out of my chair and standing in front of her office in a second.

Cindy motioned me in to have a seat and I waited for her to hang up the phone.

“So what’s going on?”  She smiled at me but she had her right hand on her pack of smokes so I knew she had about one toe in our conversation.

Fuck it.

“I ate too many Girl Scout cookies and I think I might puke.”  I blurted out.

If my parents knew I uttered these words to my boss’s boss five months into my first job after completing the degree that they paid for, I probably wouldn’t be alive these nearly twenty years later to reflect on it.

She shook her head and stood up at the same time.  “You dumb-ass.  Did Betsi say it was ok for you to go home?”

“Yes.  She said I had to check with you.”

“Go home.”

When I returned to our office to turn off my computer and grab my purse, Betsi just shook her head at me.

“See you tomorrow.” Her tone was that of complete annoyance.

“See ya!” I threw my purse over my shoulder, grabbed the second sleeve, and made a break for it.

And yes, after all of this: the recipe change, the prices going up and the quantity going down, the near overdose… yes, after all of this, you will still find me downstairs in my freezer roughly fifteen seconds after pressing “post” on this entry.

The heart wants what the heart wants.