(This short story is original to my website today. Any resemblance to my life as a former Girl Scout leader for my daughter’s troop is purely coincidental… Or not.)
We had all gotten together to commiserate, as women often do, about husbands and children and weight gain and technology. Also, the rudeness and slovenly, whorish dressing of today’s youth, our own children excluded of course. (We politely didn’t mention Bertie’s daughter Robin, who had been spotted at Starbucks with her school uniform skirt rolled up within an inch of her life, three earrings in one ear and too much eye liner.) Bertie herself had sighed to us that Robin now had a butterfly tattoo on her lower back right above the crack of her ass. (Bertie didn’t say the crack of her daughter’s ass; that was my husband’s comment when I told him about it. He said girls were doing that so that when they had sex from behind, the guy would see the tattoo and get more turned on.)
We were having lunch at Café Mediterraneo. Before becoming Café Mediterraneo this same location had been home to El Sombrero Loco, Hunan Palace, and a French “bistro” that none of us can now remember the name of. Its international pedigree has kept us coming here for lunch over the past two decades. Every time there is a change of menu, we hope for the best, and go somewhere else during the remodel. But we always come back. We are nothing if not loyal.
Lynn was saying that her youngest wanted to join the Girl Scouts, and the rest of us rolled our eyes. Been there, done that you could almost hear floating in the Mediterraneo air. We ordered humus and pita chips as an appetizer even though none of us admitted to liking humus. (My husband and I call it baby diarrhea in private.)
“It’s the uniform,” Lynn said. “For a while, it wasn’t cool, but now, suddenly scouting is back.”
“Just don’t volunteer to be a leader,” I said, nudging Marcia with my eyes. “Remember when we had that two-year stint for Chelsea and Nicole’s troop?”
“Two-year sentence is more like it,” Marcia said. “I’ll have the lamb kabob,” she told the waitress with a nose stud and a magenta streak in her hair.
“The only plus was the time the cute fireman came to your house and did a safety check. Remember, he looked like Russell Crowe,” I said, after we had all ordered.
“Only taller,” said Marcia.
“I fell in love with him in L. A. Confidential,” said Bertie. “He had such a sad smile.”
Our humus came and we dipped our pita triangles in it and noshed it all around in our mouths thoughtfully and somberly, contemplating its healthful, yellow-brown qualities.
“Don’t you think the word humus is itself unattractive?” remarked Marcia, a college prep tutor who charged, and got, a fortune for her services. Our daughters were now in college and probably didn’t even know where their Girl Scout sashes were, after we had fucking killed ourselves over them. Lynn’s daughter was younger than the rest of ours, an accidental pregnancy that seemed almost comical if you knew her husband. Bertie’s daughter had never been in Girl Scouts. Bertie said they didn’t welcome Jews – that’s what she had told her daughter Robin. I had never really looked into that. I just think Bertie was lazy and didn’t want to be a parent volunteer. Marcia and I had forced the mothers of our darling little Scouts to sign a form swearing that they would attend two meetings a year, during which they would be required to do whatever we told them. It was one of the highlights of my life when we made Cynthia Lee vacuum the scaggy carpet in our church basement meeting room in her St. John knit and Ferragamo heels after a particularly messy art project involving glitter and potatoes. She had looked at the vacuum cleaner like it was a relic of a lost civilization.
“Remember that little klepto?” asked Marcia. “The one who stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch during our Halloween outing? And then lied about it?”
“She’s probably shoplifting Kate Spade bags from Nordstrom now,” I said. “She reminded me of that little girl in that movie The Bad Seed.”
“Oh, I loved that movie!” said Bertie. “The original one from like, the 50s. There’s a little pink electric chair for girls like you.”
“Did you really tell Robin that the Scouts didn’t welcome Jews?” I asked Bertie.
“Of course,” Bertie said. Our lamb kabobs had arrived. We had all ordered the same thing, as we often do. “I was never in Girl Scouts because my mother told me they didn’t accept Jews.”
“Yeah, but that was never true,” said Lynn. “Was it?”
“Of course not,” I said, not really sure. “Our troop was totally multi-cultural.”
“I’m just too old for this,” sighed Lynn.
“You should have thought of that before you let Sheldon stick his dick in you, even if you thought you were post-menopausal,” observed Marcia.
“Eeww,” said Bertie, sputtering couscous onto my sleeve.
“Remember that time we took them camping?” Marcia asked me.
“It’s an irrepressible memory,” I said.
“God, I’ll never be able to do that,” said Lynn. “Camping. If I had to sleep on the ground I’d be crippled for life.”
“We were right next to a farm,” continued Marcia. “All night long the animals were fornicating. You could hear them squealing and grunting the whole night.”
“Was that for your Animal Husbandry badge?” asked Bertie slyly.
“Marcia smuggled a bottle of wine into our tent,” I said. “It was our only salvation. Although that is totally against the rules. We could have been fired. Or sued, if anything bad had happened.”
“Pork chop,” said Marcia. “That was the name of the hog on that farm. Now why would I remember that? That was one big, ugly sucker. I never knew pigs were hairy.”
“One reason we don’t eat pork,” said Bertie.
“Dessert?” asked our waitress. But we never ate dessert at lunch. Never.