All my friends met me at the playground. While sitting on the swings, I told them about the situation. With the stack of order forms, one by one, each of my friends committed to sell a few boxes. They knew how important this was.
Most of them didn’t know Steffy Miller, but they knew kids like her. Everyone agreed. This bullshit had to be stopped. This was going to be for all the kids whose parents forced them to have a work ethic. This win was going to show all the Steffy Millers of the world that there was justice. Good guys win. Life is fair. This was for those kids and me.
We all descended into our respective neighborhoods. Each kid going to their neighbors, parents’ friends, and friends of friends. The order forms were filling up. The boxes were being sold. Week after week passed, and the gap was closing. Steffy Miller: 202. Me: 186. Steffy Miller: 252. Me: 242. Steffy Miller: 300. Me: 300.
With one week left to go, we were in a dead heat. Most of my friends had stopped selling, and now it was down to just me. Since Steffy Miller had never been challenged before, and had always beat me by a mile, she started getting nervous. Her voice was a little softer. No more screaming when she sang. Her mom would pick her up from the meetings and look over at me. Was it my imagination or were the Millers realizing the tide was changing?
“Pregnant” announced that we all needed to get our order forms in by the next meeting. I knew I needed to sell cookies as much as possible this week, but there was no body left to sell to. Me and all my friends had left no stone unturned. I couldn’t hit people’s houses again. My parents would’ve killed me. I decided to call my relatives. All my Aunts and Uncles. I told them everything. The Millers. Koom Ba Ya. “Pregnant.” Seven days a week. Enlisting my friends. I sang the theme song from Rocky. And they all agreed. I had to win. They bought a few boxes each. I didn’t know how I was going to get the boxes to them, but they didn’t seem to care.
With everyone’s help I’d sold 319 boxes, but sadly it wasn’t enough. I guess when I tied Steffy Miller, her parents went into overdrive and she came back to the troop meeting the next week with 342. I think it was the most cookies she’d ever sold in any year.
I held back my tears and disappointment and put on a smile for Steffy. Even at the age of 10, I knew how to put on a good face. I figured I’d cry once I got home. For now, I’d pretend that we both had done a good job. But really in my heart, she was the winner and that stunk. She got the trophy, and I got a box of Thin Mints. Some consolation prize.
I walked into my house. All that energy and time. I was exhausted. It had been a long cookie season. I wanted to forget about the Girl Scouts, the cookies, the Millers, everything. Defeat can do that to you.
On my way upstairs, my brother popped his head out of his room. He said, “I heard what happened. You’ll get her next year.” And he was gone. About to cry, I started to walk into my room. I’d let everyone down. But then the music started to play. From out of my brother’s room, Queen’s “We are the Champions” flooded the house. My tears turned into a smile. I knocked on my brother’s bedroom door with my box of Thin Mints. We gobbled them up as the music played.