The Girl Scout Motto: Part 1

Be Prepared.

I was a Girl Scout.   We earned badges in different subjects, to be well-rounded in our preparedness.

For those of you outside the US, the Girl Scouts is a kind of girls adventure club where you learn useful stuff  like how to make footstools out of tomato juice cans.

We were prepared for any extreme footstool emergency.

The Cold War was on.  If the Russians pushed the big red button first, you could count on US Girl Scouts to rush into a massive civilian relief effort to replace all the annihilated footstools.

For those of you who are instantly up in arms at my mildly sarcastic tone, please realize I’m speaking only from my personal experience as a G.S. in the 1960’s.  I had to learn the proper way to cut a sandwich, so the bread didn’t condense at the point of impact.  For the benefit of (cough cough) my future husband.

The Girl Scouts have come a long way into modernization, and I seriously doubt there is still an award for making a good white sauce.   Or that you can earn points for vacuuming the Scout Leader’s home.  I think you have to know CPR now.  Much more useful for nuclear emergencies.

That motto though, it sticks with you.

A case in point:

Bella, Daisy and I got all dressed up and went out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays, which are reasonably close together.  Makeup, dresses, glitz and glamour.  (We love not recognizing each other.)  There were beautifully wrapped gifts topped with that lovely chiffon wire ribbon.  Mine was knotted, with a bow over it.  I couldn’t get the dang ribbon off to save my life.  There was a pause, then we all simultaneously start rummaging in our elegant handbags.


For our knives, of course.

Before I could pull out my floral swiss army, or Daisy could pull out her sleek switch-blade-ish type knife, Bella says “Aha!  Got it!” and hauls out a knife that (if anyone had seen it) would land her in Gitmo in under 30 seconds.  It was 5 inches long, with a 3 inch wide sickle-shaped blade, that came to a very sharp point at the end.  The curve of blade near the handle glinted with giant,  jagged saw teeth.  It has its own thick leather sheath.

You could really gut a present with that thing.

I look at Daisy for validation that this is a tad extreme.  She’s got her chin in her hand, elbow on table, waiting for me to slice through the ribbon.  Clearly, she has seen this knife before. Bella is looking at me with innocent “What?” eyebrows.  I put the present out of sight in my lap, gingerly take the knife, presume it will slice with zero pressure, and snap, ribbon is stealthily cut without the entire restaurant running screaming for the door.

“You were a girl scout, weren’t you?” I say to Bella, carefully handing the knife back to her, handle first.

I add, “Please tell me this is not your Date Knife.”

We all laugh.

“It’s for roping”, she says,  “I can cut loose if I get my hand caught in the rope.  I keep forgetting to put it back on my saddle.”

“But”, adds Daisy, “It does come in handy for ribbon emergencies.”

Case in point #2:

When I first met Shaun, we were going somewhere in my truck, and she opened the glove box to rummage for a map, pawing through tissues, old pens, loose bandaids and registration papers.  A 20-year-old emergency road flare fell to the floor.  (Huh.  Forgot that was in there.)

She found the map and read the directions. Not that I was lost or anything.  (Totally lost.)  Fortunately, I was indeed headed north, so I could claim competence.  I drive.  Shaun falls into one of those pauses.  You know the kind I mean.  The other person is thinking so loudly you can hear the process, if not the words.

“What?” I ask.

“Nothing.” Shaun says, unconvincingly.

“Uh-huh.  What?”, I ask.

I glance sideways at her. She looks uncomfortable.  She’s holding something in her hand, but I can’t look long enough to make a positive ID.

“Um”, she says, “Why is there silverware in your glove box?”

Oh.  She’s holding the plastic bag with the flatware and napkins.  Table setting for 4, without the plates.  This is embarrassing.  What can I possibly say?  I put on my best defensive, that-is-the-dumbest-question-ever voice.

“For emergencies“, I say.

She turns the bag over, perplexed.  In what emergency would it be essential to have silverware?  I look at her sideways again.

“You know”, I say, “in case there’s a FOOD emergency.”

“So…”, she says, carefully, “…If we are suddenly attacked by a picnic, we’ll be prepared.”

“Exactly!” I say.

10 thoughts on “The Girl Scout Motto: Part 1

  1. After my recent trail ride I need to carry a knife. You never know when you’ll have to cut the straps off a saddle.

    Hmm, I carry a can opener, wipes, LifeHammer, gum, Advil, roadside kit…

  2. Haha. Of course everyone had a knife. Of course. And, I could live quite comfortably for several weeks off the contents of my truck cab. Several changes of clothing for all types of weather, a variety of snacks, plenty of reading material, various pieces of tack and equipment. . . .

  3. Dear Jane,

    I now have a set in my glove compartment. Have no idea why or if you put them in there. Could you take them out and put them somewhere else????

    After all I don’t understand chocolate emergencies. How do you expect me to understand food emergencies?

  4. What? You mean other folks do not have silverware and more in their trucks? I have everything I need to camp overnight in my truck. Including silverware. Get stranded just once and look what happens!

    When Dad sold me my first car it came with an ancient med kit and a snake bite kit, a fold up saw (in case I had to cut up trees blocking the road) and a screw driver (in case I got locked in the trunk).

    Maybe paranoia just runs in my family.

  5. “I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God, the Queen and my country. To help other people every day, especially those at home.” I was a Girl Guide in the ’60’s . 🙂 In a zip-loc bag in my glove box, I have a candle, lighter, $5.00 bill, lip gloss, a flashlight and PLASTIC cutlery! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. LOL

  6. I need to learn to avoid reading your site when I’m in places that I cannot laugh uproariously. You’re killing me! On the plus side, my abs get a good workout from silent held-in laughter. My husband is a bit bemused about the fact that I own more knives than he does…

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