I may have Stolen from the Girl Guides

I found a box in the basement with some childhood odds and ends and discovered an old cookie collection envelope  from when I was a Brownie. I wasn’t a Brownie for long, my mother thought the uniform, topped with my blonde hair, made me look like Hitler youth. Definitely not a good look. Especially for a Jew.

According to this official envelope though, I was definitely a Brownie in 1988. Since my mom wouldn’t let me go door-to-door, not because she worried I would get kidnapped but that neighbours would feel obligated to buy cookies, my list of purchasers contained a few familiar names:

Mom = 2 boxes   ($4.00)

Dad = 2 boxes      ($4.00)

My brother Jason = 1 box ($2.00)

My brother Geoff = 1 box ($2.00)

Auntie Karen = 2 boxes ($4.00)

Granny = 1 box ($2.00)

I scan through the list scrawled in my eight year old printing. I am struck by my terrible handwriting. My best friend Sarit, a primary school teacher with saintly patience, often tells me she would fail me out of grade one with my current penmanship. “Don’t worry,” I tell my eight year old self, “the proliferation of word processors is coming.”

As I reach towards the garbage to throw out the evidence of my deficient childhood dexterity, something flutters to the floor. I reach down to find an old one dollar bill. I pick it up and notice for the first time the envelope’s thickness. I hold my breathe as I open it to find seventeen more one dollar bills, all paid to my eight year old self for cookies. Could it be? Did I really sell cookies and forget to give the money to the head Snowy Owl! My mind is reeling. I have stolen from the Girl Guides! This is a terrible accident.

At how many troop meetings did I sit around the toadstool as a delinquent Brownie? How many years now have I been guilty of illicit cookie conduct? And with the fruits of my crime sitting right under my disorganized nose?

I immediately vow to remedy my wrongdoing, make full reparations to the Girl Guides.

“It’s been 23 years,” says my husband, “I think the organization has managed.”

I shake my head. “I need to get it back to them.”

Luckily, it’s cookie-selling season and there’s a group of girls selling boxes at the subway station by our house. I make my way, my head held down, with the dirty money staining my pocket. I walk up to a little brunette, and with her chestnut fringe, she looks much less historically antisemitic.

I pull the bills out and hand them to her. “Just take it,” I say. “Here, please,  just take it.” I turn to leave.

“Wait,” she calls after me, “Which cookies do you want? We have the original chocolate and vanilla now!”

I keep walking. “No cookies for me, thanks.” I can’t bear to confess my wrongdoings to this innocent, little scout. I don’t want her to know what some Brownie’s are apparently capable of.

“They’re nut free if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“No, no,” I say, “No nut allergy here.” Just felonious cookie appropriation.

“But you have to take the cookies!” her voice is rising. “We still have a couple boxes of chocolate mint left?”

I stop. I do love those chocolaty mint cookies. Just the right size and just the right sweetness.

“No,” I finally say resolutely, “No cookies for me.”

Walking home, I feel really good about righting my wrong from yesteryear and resisting cookie temptation. I could have let it go. I could have donated the funds to a more convenient cause or just kept the one dollar bills as a historic memento, written this off as the childhood accident that it was. But I didn’t. My eight year old sales proceeds are now rightfully with the organization. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Is there a badge for returning stolen cookie money?