I went to the Girl Scouts convention last weekend. I went as an exhibitor, I’ve never been a Girl Scout, and now I’m kind of thinking I missed out – those girls are having a good time everywhere they go. This is actually a bit of a sore point, I never got to be a Brownie, Girl Guide, Scout or any of those things where you wear neckerchiefs and have secret handshakes.. and yet I distinctly remember my older siblings getting to do all of that stuff. What was wrong with me hey? Why didn’t the brownies want ME?
To be fair, I was cripplingly shy at the time. I was less likely to be practicing my slip shank monkey knots, and more likely to be cowering under the bed hoping I didn’t have to go any place where I would be forced to talk to people.
Anyhoo, the convention is amazing. Ten thousand girls scouts descended on Columbus, Ohio, trying out everything from scuba diving to one of those spinny gravity things. Wow that’s a terrible description of it, I mean one of those things that you sit in the middle of it and it’s made of a bunch of steels circles and then it spins around and you’re upside down, turned around and all over the place… it’s a big gyroscope.
Wherever there was an open space you’d find scouts lounging around clad in quilts of patches they’d earned, singing songs (okay, so that sounds just a teeny bit culty, but every large body of people from schools, to churches, to sports fans, to a group of Wall Street suits, is a cult in sheep’s clothing). My favorite thing about the Girl Scout conventions is always the feeling of camaraderie, girls bonded by a quest for adventure and chasing after every opportunity they can.
I went to an all girls school, and it was a very different experience. Cooped up in walls of rules; itching to be anywhere else but there; an air of wild eyed craziness; unspoken fierce competitiveness; and far more outspoken gang warfare amongst the different cliques. Each of us steeped in a sullen hostility to pretty much everyone apart from the members of your own clique… and even then it wasn’t all roses.
School is an odd place, I mean it seems like a logical thing for kids: here, go to this place where you can learn useful things and be with others like you. But it seems all wrong for the brain at that age – you should be out, roaming free, and coming home with scratches, bruises, odd trinkets, an eclectic circle of acquaintances that make your parents panic, and vast tracts of knowledge on whatever you’re interested in that day.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. My best friend and I will laugh for hooooouuuurs reminiscing about school, and bore everyone else rigid (what’s wrong with them, are they not paying attention to how hilarious we are?), and I did seem to pick up some really useful skills along the way – my camouflage and blending into a crowd techniques are superb, and to this day I’m surprisingly agile at climbing over walls and fences should the need arise. Oh and I can change an entire set of clothes without revealing even a sliver of skin…. no shocking flash of an ankle here, thank you very much.
Back to Columbus – gosh it’s charming! I’d never been before, and I’ve still only seen a small square around the convention centre, but there were loads of cool little places to hang out. The North Market has live bands, and many, many opportunities to get really fat. We found a great sushi restaurant tucked away on a side street, which doesn’t make sense at all because, well, Ohio – inland.
Hands down my favourite though was The Char Bar, which screams no nonsense, get the job done, dive bar. Actually it wouldn’t do anything so melodramatic as screaming, it gruffly barks at you instead. The only food they serve is peanuts, pretzels, and if they’re feeling fancy, beef jerky. There is no drinks menu – you look at the bottles behind the bar and in the fridge, and you order what you can see. We posted up at the bar on those stools that won’t let you sit in any other position than a comfortable sprawl, and sank thirst quenching pints gabbing away with the very laid back I-spend-more-time-here-than-I-do-at-home-in-fact-I-get-all-my-mail-sent-here-and-this-is-listed-as-my-address-on-my-driving-license style of bar tender.
The toilets were in the basement of the bar. To get to them you descended stone steps (which smell dank and musty, like the old Victorian townhouse I lived in when I was in college where we threw mammoth parties, and set up decks in the cellar so that outside the house you could feel the music, but not actually hear it until the noise exploded at you when the door opened) and passed through an arctic-chilly faded room, empty save for an upright piano stripped of all its keys and strings, looking slightly menacing as if it can see inside your soul and judges your life by playing an appropriate theme tune for you as you make your way to and fro emptying your bladder. What would your song be? “Oops I did it again”, “That’s not my name”, “I Wanna Do Bad Things with You,” “I Don’t Like Mondays,” “Creep”?????
I want a piano that does that for real. No one steal that idea, I came up with it first!!