I vowed before arriving in Afghanistan that I'd leave in better shape than I arrived. With not much to do in the evenings except hit the gym, it seemed like departure with a respectable physique was in the bag. But I was in the SecFor office just two days ago when I stumbled across an entire case of Tagalongs -- the chocolate-covered, peanut-butter filled shortbread girl scouts cookies. Tagalongs, as far as I'm concerned, are god's food, perfect in every way. I could make a meal out of Tagalongs, if doing so wouldn't cause your heart to explode out of your chest and deflate on the table in front of you. "Who do I need to beg for one of these cookies?" I asked.
"Dude, just take a box," Captain Firepower* told me. "They're not anybody's. We've got cases lying around -- they just show up in the mail. The girl scouts are…" (and here he grinned) "…very patriotic."
So I took a box and devoured a quarter of it on the spot, fingers covered in the outer chocolate made soft by the desert heat. But then that whole fitness goal came back to mind, and I guiltily decided to drop the rest off in the office next door to mine, where they had previous complained that my predecessor was a "net subtractor" from the office snack pool. "Be an adder, not a subtractor," they had told me, and Girl Scout cookies seemed like the sort of thing that would make me a hero and ensure that I could continue pilfering from them for the foreseeable future.
I strolled into their office brandishing the cookies and announced that I had great news. "I brought some Tagalongs," I said with flourish. "You'll note that I'm being an adder, not a subtractor."
"Oh god, more Girl Scout cookies?" they said. "There's a whole case of them under the TV. We put them away when we all started to get fat." I examined the area under the TV, and sure enough there were some 20 boxes of Girl Scout cookies -- Samoas, Do-si-Dos, more Tagalongs, a few flavors I hadn't even seen before. I ripped open a box of Samoas (my favorite!), shoveled two into my mouth at light speed and then put the rest next to the Tagalongs. I was almost dizzy at the idea of an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of free Girl Scout cookies.
And now it's two days later. I've eaten more cookies in the past 48 hours than I probably have in the last two years. My Grand Master Plan involving healthy living and plenty of push-ups has largely been supplanted by a world where Girl Scout-endorsed shortbread products almost literally grow on trees. The guys next door have vowed to put the cookies away ("damn you for bringing these out again," they said), and part of me is hopeful that they will; the other part of me, though is wondering why anyone would bother striving for visible abdominal muscles when there are Thin Mints to be had.
*Captain Firepower is the plucky young captain in charge of ensuring we've got enough firepower on missions. I'm moving to a nickname only policy in this blog.