Earning my Merit Badges

UnknownAs someone who has earned her merit badge in procrastination a million times over-and that was just this month-I was simultaneously irritated and intrigued when I stumbled across Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas’s book, “You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.”

It’s hard to argue with the book’s thesis, that it’s high time our “want-to-do lists” got as much attention as our “to-do lists.” But the 60 cleverly monikered “grown-up Girl Scout badges” didn’t really resonate with me. Car repair (pop the hood)? No thanks. Filmmaking (roll ’em), art appreciation (be a renaissance gal) and meditation (get an inner life)? Maybe.

As a former Girl Scout, Brownie, Camp Fire Girl and Indian Maiden, I’ve always had a thing for merit badges. And since goal setting is one of the skills that all former scouts know all about, I decided to coax a few of my own big dreams out of hiding and invent my own set of “earned age-level awards” for grown ups. Incidentally, writing this list should earn me emblem number 60 from Grandcolas’s book, “You can do it!” which encourages people to invent and pursue their own merit badges.

I’ll be checking my mailbox to add the “I can do it” badge to my sash. Meanwhile, here are a few of the other badges on my “want-to-do list.”

The $25,000 Pyramid Badge: For just one day I’d like to consume the recommended six servings of grains, five vegetables, four fruits and two servings each of milk and protein without gaining seven pounds and/or having a monster stomachache.

Badge Steps:

(1.) I always forget, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

(2.) You say tomato, I say chocolate.

(3.) Let’s call the whole thing off and count beer as a grain and vodka as a vegetable.

Do as I Say Badge: Like any loving parent, I live for the day that the words, “But last time you said …” “But you and daddy get to …” and “But everyone else gets to …” are forever banished from my son’s lips.

Badge Steps:

(1.) Rewind my son’s life to when he was a baby and all he did was smile, eat, sleep and poop.

(2.) Or, fast-forward a few years, to when he’ll likely be giving me the silent treatment in protest of something I wrote about him in this column.

(3.) Or, find the mute button.

Too Big for Primetime Badge: There are six magic words that have been haunting my dreams since my show stopping performance as Lucy in my third grade class’s version of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” They are, of course, “I’d like to thank the Academy.” However, more recently they’ve been upstaged by another six magic words: “Why thank you for asking, Oprah.”

Badge Steps:

(1.) Compliment the fabulously talented, stunningly generous Ms. Winfrey regularly in my column.

(2.) Send her subliminal messages in my sleep until she realizes what a witty and charming guest I would make on her show.

(3.) Appear on show and be so witty and charming that Oprah invites me to “stop by anytime.”

(4.) Appear on show several more times, developing witty and charming repartee with Oprah, my new best friend.

(5.) Write witty and charming screenplay for Oprah to star in and produce.

(6.) “I’d like to thank the Academy.”

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super-Leslie Badge: I know I want a super power, I’m just not sure which one. I’ve always wanted the power to freeze a moment in time, like that moment in time when I had a perfect, 20-year-old body. Or the power of invisibility, so that I could steal things. Or I could be a crime fighter. It’s hard for a girl to commit.

Badge Steps:

(1.) Get in industrial accident involving chemicals, radiation, lightening, and some insect that’s not too yucky – maybe a butterfly.

(2.) Conjure up my grandpa’s voice, saying, “Keep exercising that imagination, kid. It’ll take you places someday.”

(3.) “You know Oprah, I’ve always wanted to have super powers. How do you do it?”

The Thrill of Competition Badge: While competing at Wimbledon, the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby have long been relegated to video game fantasies; I’d still like to have box seats someday.

Badge Steps:

(1.) Mention to my good friend Oprah that I’ve always to attend Wimbledon, the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby.

(2.) Thanks for the time off. Of course I’ll write a column about it, boss.

Send your adult merit badge suggestions to Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. For more columns visit www.LeslieDinaberg.comOriginally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on May 14, 2010.