Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Professional competence

Even before dear Ms. Austen wrote her immortal novels, debate has raged fiercely over what constitutes a truly accomplished lady. In recent days I fear that standards have declined. Basic skills are neglected--I recall, only too vividly, one occasion when departing for a weeklong vacation, that not a single one of my friends was capable of moving Bessie, my beloved Porsche, across the street! Imagine! Bessie being parked upon a steepish sort of hill in San Francisco, and being a standard transmission ('stick shift' to you youngsters), every one of my girlfriends disclaimed responsibility for handling her. In other words, my girlfriends did not know how to Drive. For shame. No wonder that reactionary forces dog our every step.

Thusly, I propound my list of basic feminine skills, without which a girl may not stake a claim to true womanhood.


1. Language: fluency in at least two modern languages, and a pretense to a third. Candidates who cannot differentiate between "your" and "you're" shall be disqualified from eligibility to offer reasoned opinions in any English language debate. Persons who spell the word "endeavor," as "i-n-d-e-v-i-r" shall have their M.F.A.s revoked.

2. Self-control: the ability to consume two pints of Guinness without wincing, gagging, or slurring one's words.

3. Dexterity: the ability to negotiate one's way to the loo in a smoky Oxford pub, after having consumed the abovementioned two pints of Guinness, without trodding on anyone's toes, or engaging in verbal fisticuffs with a drunken English lout. Bonus points for persuading the drunken lout to wear a condom.

4. Cookery: the ability to throw together a palatable, nutritionally balanced meal over one gas burner, utilizing only staples such as flour, brown rice, uncooked pasta, canned tomatoes, and the spice rack, plus whatever items in season are available at the local farmer's market. Vegans who overcook their broccoli shall be forced to consume an entire raw cow in punishment.

5. Nurturance: the ability to engage six French toddlers of varying ages in constant play for three hours without knowing a word of French, except ballet terminology.

6. Social skills: the ability to carry on an animated, unflagging conversation for an entire evening with a blind date who has announced, ten minutes into the discussion, "I don't read."

7. Self-defense: the ability to extract shamed apologies from a group of Mexican adolescents who have just grabbed one's derriere in a dark alley, in a sort of consecutive gang groping. Bonus points if their mothers invite you to Sunday dinner.

8. Adaptability: the ability to camp in a college friend's living room for three weeks without destroying the friendship.

9. Manners: No whining. Ever.

10. (of course) The ability to parallel park a standard-transmission automobile on the right side of a one-way hill with an incline greater than thirty degrees.


This is a preliminary list; I am sure I will think of more.

2 comments:

EN said...

Well thought out. Could this be the return of civilization? I'm an older man (and sometimes gentleman, although that's not really required any longer), and I remember when many woman/girls aspired to be competent. It's too bad that few females understand the affect your style has on men. I simply try to be better around woman like you.

prettylady said...

How you flatter! And how touched I am. Too many gentlemen become taciturn and defensive around a truly competent lady.