Some of us are born just absolutely stuffed to the gills with winkarma. The rest of us get it doled out out by the God of Adventure, who is one stingy bastard.

So I’m NOT one of the five happy winners of a brand new Porsche 911 with $25,000 in gas money from the Porsche Club raffle. Lost out on the lottery. Publishers’ Clearinghouse never heard of me. Didn’t win last year’s umpty-million-dollar dream house in Gig Harbor, Washington, or the 2017 house in Georgia (OK, that one I wasn’t so crazy about), or the 2015 house in Martha’s Vineyard (damn, that really hurt).

The new dream house is in Montana, a place I’m told (by Brenda Griffith, Wonder Woman clone) is heaven on earth. I’ve entered, but let’s not hold our breath on remodeling that gruesome master bedroom.

I used up my winkarma allocation decades ago, on a box of cookies. In case I’d forgotten that, the God of Adventure reminded me just now, helpfully forwarding a”hi, dyawannabuycookies” email from the Girl Scouts.

The cookies I won seem to have become a major keyframe in my life, because years later I still remember every detail of that win. I was six and a Brownie, one of a million or so swarming the school on the first day of Girl Scout cookie sales. Every last one of us headed straight for Miss Paregoy, our first grade teacher.

Miss Paregoy was probably a perfectly lovely woman but I mostly remember her as the kid equivalent of a drill sergeant, demanding straight lines in queue, no talking in the halls, ramrod posture, and perfectly clean plates at lunchtime. A family friend gave me a pantsuit for my birthday and I insisted on wearing it to school; Miss Paregoy recoiled in horror and made me sit in a bathroom stall for a couple of hours, until Mom arrived with a proper girl’s dress.

Miss Paregoy was a stickler for equal treatment of all her charges; at Christmas every handkerchief, tiny box of chocolates, or bottle of bubblebath was met with exactly the same, “Thank you, dear. I will enjoy this.”

Similarly, she declined to show favoritism in cookie sales; unless she planned on spending a small fortune on a diabetic coma, she couldn’t possibly buy ALL the cookies we offered. So she deflected us by raffling herself off.

She wrote a double set of numbers on slips of paper and divided them into two bags (this would be a counting lesson as well, Miss Paregoy was nothing if not efficient). She passed one bag around to every cookie-peddling Brownie in her class, and we each took a slip. I checked my number:


Miss Paregoy gave the other bag to our classmate, Mitchell. Mitchell shook the bag–made something of a production out of it; maracas were especially popular just then and he could do a killer imitation of a mariachi band. He reached inside, pulled out a slip, and opened it slowly, relishing the suspense. Then he gave us all a mysterious look.

“Go on, Mitchell,” she said impatiently, “Read the number.”

“FIVE,” he boomed.

What? Five? 5? That was me. I WON!!!!!

Ignore for a moment that my “prize” was to sell my teacher a box of cookies I couldn’t eat, costing money I couldn’t spend, which contributed a whole 0.00000005 percent to total national Girl Scout cookie sales for the year.

It was still a win and I was thrilled. First time I’d ever won ANYthing. (Sometime I’ll tell you about the swimsuit competition I insisted on entering the previous summer. I think I was still smarting from that loss; I was a very competitive child.)

I swaggered up to Miss Paregoy’s desk with my cookie catalog (I refuse to call it a cookie sheet for obvious reasons), and spread it in front of her like the headwaiter at a $200-a-dish restaurant in New York.

“May I recommend the Do-Si-Dos? Wholesome, delicious peanut butter sandwich cookies?” I suggested.

“I’ll take a box of thin mints,” she replied.

I repeated my suggestion. “If you don’t let me buy what I want,” she said pleasantly, “I’ll pick another number.”

I caved. After all, a sale was a sale. Not my fault if the customer was a peasant.

A few weeks later the cookies arrived and I duly took Miss Paregoy her box of thin mints. She paid me in quarters, and I lost two on the way home, learning a valuable lesson about envelopes.

I’d used up my winkarma on a bloody box of cookies.

Next time, I’ll take the Porsche, please.