Life Skills? But Can You Bake A Cherry Pie?


 When I was a kid going to summer camps, we used to merrily sing the song, “Billy Boy,” in which a young man talks about finding a woman he wants to marry. For some reason, what stuck with me was that the song’s narrator wanted to know whether the woman could bake a cherry pie, as though that were one of the most important qualities in a wife.

 I thought of that song when a quiz swept through Facebook yesterday testing the number of basic life skills you have. Although I was deemed an odd combination of “Joan Holloway, the Dos Equis man, and the president of the United States, all rolled into one,” the skills that got me there were knowing how to iron a shirt, being able to throw a punch, knowing how to change a tire. About as useful, ultimately, as baking a cherry pie.

 What are the real life skills? Here are some I propose:

 Ask yourself, can you:

  •  Do that little sway that soothes any baby in your arms?
  •  See who is left out at a party and see to it that they feel included?
  •  Know in your gut when someone is lying to you?
  •  Figure out how to say no without alienating the person asking?
  •  Know when to lie when someone asks about how their haircut looks?
  •  Know how to approach a dog – or a child — so you’re not threatening?
  •  Fire someone so they don’t hate you?
  •  Figure out how to juggle your physical, emotional and spiritual selves so none get “shorted”?
  •  Give love — as well as accept it — gracefully?


I think that pretty much covers it. Unless you can think of something else?



What Do French Women Have That We Don’t?


We’ve all heard it. American women trod along like oxen after French women, who spring like gazelle. French women have style, American women have polyester. French women have a certain je ne sais quoi.

Well, I just got back from France, where I was determined to sais quoi. What made French women so irresistible?

I looked down from my hotel window at French women striding along with bags flung over shoulders. Spied from café seats. Strolled the Champs Elysees. All with an eye to see what made French women so irresistible to the eye.

And here’s what I found out. It’s not the fabulous boots (lots of them, with pants or skirts, short little ankle boots with a shrugging, worn-in appeal). It’s not the little scarves, tied just so. And it’s not the lips, permanently pursed from uttering the “oo” sound of French language.

It’s the posture.

The only time a French woman’s back touches the seat back is when she is artfully arranging herself for display. Otherwise, whether she is standing at a street corner (often with a cigarette, alas!), or sitting at a café (usually inside, the sidewalk is for tourists), there is no slouching.

“They walk with such confidence,” my husband said admiringly.

When I got back home, I did some research and found that the woman who has been making a living telling American women that French women don’t get fat, agrees that French women practice excellent posture.

“Weight is related to height, or at least our sense of it,” says Mireille Guilliano, the best-selling author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”

And I remembered years of my mother pulling my shoulders back as I stood, neck flamingoed out.

I also remembered from a self-defense class years ago, that walking erect not only projects sexy confidence, it also serves as an early warning system to would-be muggers that this woman takes no shit.

So, as I sit at my computer, comfortably resting on my tailbone, I find myself slowly straightening. And suddenly – voila! I do feel more French. Also the sudden urge for a café au lait.