July 05, 2006
BROWNIES IN PANTS
The times they are a changin'. I saw a group of local Brownies, which for those of you who grew up on an Ashram, is the girlhood precursor to their grown up green counterparts the Girl Scouts. What was most shocking was not that they still exist but that they were wearing pants. In my day, there was a brownie uniform, and it was just that — a drab, formless little button-down dress. I remember it distinctly because I won the award for Most Times in Uniform. While the other third grade early feminists of Darien, Connecticut rebelled, I remained a slave to authority and wore my little brown dress on each of the appointed days.
Well now, not only do little girls get the choice of wearing Brownie pants, they can wear Brownie skorts or even Brownie cargo shorts. I mean cargo shorts, hello! And instead of the ill-fitting yarmulke like beanie, which was our appointed headgear, they can choose from cute hairbands or Brownie scrunchies. I learned all this by logging onto the official website and wondered if somehow I could cure my jealousy by ordering my own progressive outfit now. I feared there was somewhere that you had to prove you were actually an active Brownie in order to purchase the clothes, then wondered if I could still fit into a girl's size Large. Maybe, except for the fact that Brownies aren't supposed to have boobs.
One of my other eponymous awards was Best Body in my freshman dorm. Not Prettiest, of course, reserved for the Southern girl with big blue eyes and a great smile but the award which really meant I had large breasts (no one in college had yet had plastic surgery to reach unnatural bra sizes) and had somehow managed to avoid the freshman fifteen as they called the average girl's first year of college weight gain. It was probably the Playboy Bunny Halloween costume I wore which seemed somehow appropriate to me at the time.
My musings on changes was only brought home by a recent trip on the Shelter Island Ferry where all the ticketing is now automated. Armed with an electronic pad, the guys and gals in slickers issue you a flimsy little printed piece of paper about the size of a matchbook. My guy took one look at it and said he would certainly lose it before the return trip. What happened to the sturdy blue stock ticket and wads of cash and hole punchers, which seemed to work perfectly fine? I mean what's next — The Shelter Island Ferry Magazine?
I try to embrace innovation — having patience with the myriad of drivers who seem completely unable to figure out the right of way of the new Scuttlehole traffic circle, or the large orbit beeper (which never fits in my purse) to indicate your table is ready at Sen, or imitation crab. Although each change is designed to make life easier, at least for those with seafood allergies, I somehow long for the familiarity of my youth. Ultimately I'm happy that little girls have wardrobe choices and the ferry workers won't get carpal tunnel from punching tickets. But if we're really going to be a progressive society we have to ask this: if the Brownies can wear pants, can the Cub Scouts wear skirts?
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