Ballad of the Green Berets

I know I save way too much stuff for sentimental reasons (although I am not a hoarder, let’s make that clear. I am not a hoarder. Not a hoarder) but even I think I may have gone too far with my Girl Scout uniform. (But even so, not a hoarder.)

It doesn’t take up all that much space in the bins, but it would be way better off in some girl power museum or a 1960s vintage clothing display, or Goodwill, or somebody’s Halloween costume stash. (“I’m a witch!” “I’m a green M&M!”  “I’m my mom as a gawky 12-year-old in a club!”)

I recently came across my Girl Scout uniform, my beret, and my sash, as well as a couple of patches I never got around to sewing on. The dress has a 13-inch hem in it; I think it barely covered my underwear. I can’t imagine why I didn’t take the opportunity to cover up my knobby-kneed, stork legs.

And although we were wearing the dress like it belonged in  a swinging ‘60s nightclub instead of at the Girl Scout Roundup Jubilee,  we did nothing stylish with the beret. Nothing. Where were our inner-Monica Lewinskys?  If I could go back in time, one of the first things I’d do is to wear that green beret jauntily off to one side.

I was a Girl Scout drop-out. Girl Scouting was the first thing I was allowed to quit ever. My mom didn’t believe in quitting things. She made me continue to be a safety patrol all through fifth grade, even after I got a babysitting job offer that would have added years to my cool-pre-teen formula. A paying job in the fifth grade? No, I had already signed up to wear the big white strap across my chest, the silver badge, and carry the stop sign on a long bamboo pole.

“You said you’d do it and you have to do it. You don’t just back out of a commitment like that,” my mom said.

More not-quitting things followed and then I dropped the bombshell that I wanted to quit Girl Scouts. Because we lived across the street from the school, my house and yard were common places to meet, arrange for pick-ups and drop-offs, and to dump crap that you didn’t want to deal with. “Taking it to Mrs. Laney’s house” was a popular option for lots of things, including the Girl Scout cookies for my entire troop, and holding our after-school meetings.

I think my mom might have felt slightly put-upon by Mrs. Dubyak, our leader, because when I suggested that maybe I’d like to not be a Girl Scout anymore, she said, “OK.” I couldn’t believe it. I was allowed to quit Girl Scouts!

I casually mentioned it at our next meeting and Mrs. Dubyak had to find another house to host her meetings and store her cookies. I folded up my uniform, sash and green beret and put it in a drawer.

Hard to believe I still have it. Halloween is coming up. If anybody’s skinny pre-teen is looking for a costume, let me know.

Send emails to Diane at She will not hoard them. Not a hoarder.

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