Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 19, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 19, 2004 – I was once a Girl Guide. I was never a Brownie, so I missed the all important “flying up”, over the magic toadstool, or maybe it was a mushroom, into the ranks of Girl Guidedom. Instead of a nice little brown uniform, I wore a midnight blue uniform with a stylish white tie and a brown belt with a little change purse attached.
The Girl Guide emblem was smartly featured on the front of my belt, which was cinched ever so snugly around my twelve year old waist. I got to march, mingle with my peers, earn badges, polish my Girl Guide pin and go to Camp Keewaydin, on the shores of Lake Huron. At summer camp I got to live in a tent, sleep on the floor, wear a yellow bathing cap because I couldn’t swim (no wonder I needed therapy later in life) and utter unforgettable chants like the following:
At Camp Keewaydin we have lots of fun,
The food is delicious, we rise with the sun.
The sun is so hot, we can bear it no more,
So into the lake – we jump with a roar.
(I didn’t get to jump or roar because of that damn yellow bathing cap – I had to wade in slowly hanging onto a blue rope).
We went on to . . .
“We pitched our tents in the neatest way
And have inspection once every day” . . . unfortunately the rest of that memorable ditty has escaped my aging brain.
Rosemary, Rosemary if you’re able,
Get your elbows off the table,
This is not a horse’s stable,
But a first class dining table.
(I still think of that today when I see someone slouched over a plate, elbows propped on the table and arms spread out like chicken wings).
At Girl Guide meetings – which were Monday nights at seven o’clock (sharp), we acknowledged our motto – “Be Prepared” and then in unison, eyes shining, heads erect, right hand smartly raised in the three finger Girl Guide Salute, we intoned our life’s mission:
“I promise on my honour,
To do my best, to do my duty to God and the Queen,
To help other people at all times,
And to obey the Guide Law”.
Well, some of that childhood advice stuck. I’m always prepared, for almost any eventuality. My preparedness goes quiet nicely with my mild case of obsessive-compulsive behaviour, and only serves to enhance the slight case of anxiety which is always bubbling just under the surface of my somewhat controlled personality.
There – it’s out in the open. I’m a neurotic nut bar. However, I’ve come to realize that my neuroses, while leading to a level of social discomfiture, have from time-to-time, been quite useful in my life. For instance – “being prepared” can be immensely helpful. In my purse or car, I always have a pen, bandaids, a cell phone, a lipstick nicely co-ordinated with my outfit, a safety pin, my handy-dandy jack knife, a flashlight, spare change, personal identification, cash, business cards, a comb, reading glasses, sunglasses, a credit card, a tape measure, a small steel cylinder containing matches, a map of Toronto, a tiny Teddy Bear named Mortimer to talk to in case I’m ever caught in a snowstorm and in need of company, and appropriate to the occasion silver jewellery, adorning my person. Does this seem a little obsessive?
All this to say, I’m off to present multiple offers on a Seller’s property. In the back of my mind I wonder if I really have a clue what I’m doing. But at the very least – I’m prepared. I’ve got binders and pens and coloured markers and every conceivable form known to the real estate industry and a big smile on my face and by God, I can talk a good story.
If I hadn’t been a Girl Guide, if there had never been a Camp Keewaydin, maybe I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I might go flying out the door minus my briefcase, only to discover half way to my destination that I’d forgotten the very tools I needed to carry out my professional duties. I am prepared – somewhere within the depths of this cranky, menopausal woman beats the heart of a Canadian Girl Guide.