When I was in Grade 3 back in Montreal, my French teacher -- let’s call her Mademoiselle Dupont -- was the epitome of cool. Pretty, funny, sweet, the kind of teacher who did “I’m your friend, too!” stuff like bake us cupcakes and pizza, and let us nibble on these treats during class.
She wasn’t married. Well, she didn’t wear a wedding ring like some of our other teachers, so that was my assumption. Look, I was eight and these were the 80s.
I figured Mlle. Dupont was about 30 years old -- the height of adulthood in my child mind. Sometimes I would glance up from my notebook and imagine what her life looked like after school. What did she eat for dinner? Did she watch TV? Did she drink beer or wine or -- whuuut -- rum and Cokes? Could she play chess? Did she swim, beyond fluttery kicks and doggy-paddles? If the moment presented, could she dance the Waltz? Did she sleep in on the weekend?
(Sidebar: Am I the only one who as a kid wondered how single teachers were able to do up the long zippers on the backs of their dresses? Who helped them?) There was so much to wonder about, so many blanks to fill in on how this official grownup woman went about the world.
Obviously, I never got these answers about my French teacher. But it got me thinking about my own answers. Do I know how to play chess? Kind of. Not really. Foxtrot? I’m sure I can pick it up easy. I can Cabbage Patch and slide into a mean Wop like I was born this way.
So I started jotting these Should-Dos down. Not a bucket list, more an I Got This list. Things like:
- Change a flat tire.
- Roast a chicken with all the fixings for a complete dinner.
- Dance the Waltz or Foxtrot.
- Play chess.
- Shuffle a deck of cards all fancy.
- Jump Double-Dutch.
- Give a great toast.
- Mix a perfect cocktail.
- Tell a legit funny joke.
- Sew on an elbow patch.
- Bake a loaf of bread.
- Make a complicated (or seemingly so) dessert.
- Whistle using your fingers.
No skydiving, no swimming with manatees or even learning how to speak Mandarin. These aren’t dares. They are things that if some nosy kid asks me, I should be able to answer, as an official grownup woman. “It’s handled.”
I’m not saying that I'm going to be walking around with a tool belt (although, I’m sure Marc Jacobs could work wonders). But we could all stand to be a little more self-reliant. Think about how quickly we look for a button, link or an app to do things for us these days. Instead of having a thoughtful conversation, just “Like” or RT whatever the other guy just said.
Tire’s flat? Ask Siri for the closest fix-it shop and have her make the call. Why make that chocolate soufflé when you can post a picture of it to your Nom-Nom-NOM Pinterest board? Someone will re-pin it. And that’s just as rewarding, right?
For me there’s satisfaction and plain ol’ pride in getting shit done, especially through your own hand. Like the time I put together a wheelbarrow -- I said, a wheelbarrow, yo! -- from scratch or wired up our DVD player/TV/stereo system or installed my kid’s toddler car seat. Man, you couldn’t tell me nothing! I felt downright mighty after finishing those tasks all by myself.
And now I think I want feel that way more often. Who run the world? Blades! So every other week, I’ll be setting off on these adventures and reporting back. There will be some hits. Foxtrot, I got you. And I’m wise enough to expect some clear misses in this game, but either way I think I’m winning. Who knows, maybe I’ll even discover some talent for a lost craft and I’ll set up a rad shop on Etsy.
Tell me some of your own Should-Dos too and maybe I'll add them to my own list. This is going to be fun, getting our hands dirty, testing our talents. Just don’t tell Siri about any of it. Nobody wants to be on that one’s bad side.