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Wednesday, 21 November 2007 00:00

How the cookie crumbles

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I look at you. You look at me. We’re dancing sort of, but I’m not much of a dancer and neither are you. There is no practical reason why you would want or need to buy cookie dough from my six-year-old daughter, just as there was no practical reason why, just a few years ago, I bought six boxes of Girl Scout cookies from your daughter. If either of us needed or wanted the cookies, we would simply get in our cars, drive to the supermarket, and purchase them. Think of a world in which we would have the things we needed only when six-year-old girls came knocking on our doors to provide them to us. I do not believe that this is a world either of us wants to live in.

Which is why we are dancing. Of course you do not need the cookie dough. I know that you don’t need it. And you know that I know that you don’t need it. So we stand there, me with my glossy cookie dough brochure, you with your arms crossed, no mistaking THAT body language. Apparently, you are going to make me say it, aren’t you? “Uh, do you remember when I bought six boxes of Girl Scout cookies from YOUR daughter?”

But I am not going to say it. I refuse to stoop to that level. I will stoop only to the level of relying mainly on my friends, relatives, and people who owe me favors as the main target audience for my daughter and her cookie dough solicitations. As sales strategies go, this one is fairly sound. Let’s face it, you could be selling used cat litter, and most of these people would buy it, so long as you remind them that it is “for a good cause” and that your daughter’s “self esteem depends on it.”

I guess that is why I am willing to do this dance in the first place. I detest selling and most salesmen that I’ve ever met. The other day, a guy came by the house with a truckload of meat, offering to make me a “great deal” on some choice cuts. I’m not that big on buying meat out of the back of some stranger’s truck, but maybe that’s just me. I offered to trade him an old lawnmower for a dozen rib-eyes, and our dance was over just like that.

But this is trickier. I admit that part of my being here with my brochures is hubris. I want to make sure that our daughter makes a good accounting of herself in her first grade class so that the teacher, parents, and school administrators will see what supportive, well-organized, and all around excellent parents we really are. More than that, I want my daughter to feel good about her results.

I want to avoid certain obvious scenarios falling into place in the event that sales do not go well. Just imagine. Humiliated by lackluster sales of cookie dough, she falls into a bad crowd of fellow cookie dough slackers. Believing that they are not capable of success, their performance in other areas begins to suffer. Reading, writing, arithmetic, playing well with others, negotiating the monkey bars at recess. Grades begin to fall. Dreams of college dry up, as Langston Hughes put it, “like a raisin in the sun.” Later on, anger will blossom inside them like a poisonous flower. They will turn on cookies, yes, but also on all that selling cookies in first grade represents: competing against one’s peers, succumbing to mindless conformity, being forced to help offset the woeful under funding of the schools by a culture with its head up its...with misplaced priorities.

Maybe this rebellion will take on certain self-destructive characteristics, as teenage rebellions often will. Maybe cigarettes will look sexy to them. Maybe wine coolers will. Maybe you’ll go in their room one day and there will be a poster of Snoop Doggy Dog where Hannah Montana used to be.

Well, I’m not having it. My daughter’s future as a Supreme Court justice will not be derailed by cookie dough. We can dance as long as it takes. If you don’t buy this cookie dough, I can promise you one thing. I will buy another tub myself. I have already gained eight pounds, and will gain eight more if necessary.

There will not be any posters of Snoop Doggy Dog, not in this house.

(Chris Cox is a writer and teacher who lives in Waynesville. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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