Personal Life Management Can Lick My Nutsack

Written by Jester

I will spare you the 200 page version of this rant and boil it down to the theme: I hated high school. And now I shall cover reason #476 of #78, 303 Reasons Why I Hated School (collect 'em all! Trade 'em with your friends!): Personal Life Management.

And Personal Life Management can lick my nutsack. Let me explain why.

Today, I was doing something that I really had no idea how to do, had little idea of what's involved, but needed to do.

It was, of all things, buying bed linen. You see, the fitted sheet I have had a tiny puncture caused by one of cats. After a wash, the puncture turned into an l-shaped rip about an inch in either direction. Then I put it back on my bed. In my struggle to keep on end of the sheet on my mattress, I pressed my knee against the sheet and turned the rip into a two-foot long tear. But I was tired so I had to sleep on it. Getting into bed, my foot snagged the tear. Four feet.

By the time I woke up the next morning, the little puncture in the fitted sheet had become something you could ride a bicycle through with bit of green fabric and elastic vaguely attached to the edges.

So obviously, I need to buy some new linen as my boudoir was rather low on the stuff to begin with, and this latest casualty was the last straw (and my last fitted bedsheet). The trouble is, I really didn't know what was involved in this, beyond that by lucky change Eaton's was having a sale on it.

The last time I had been in a bed linen buying situation I was involved with a woman, and this is one of those activities that the woman was more than happy to do the most of the deciding on. I was happy to leave the deciding up to The Boss, so beyond making sure that the sheets didn't have Sailor Moon on them or did anything to otherwise shatter my fragile machismo, I didn't pay much attention.

So I was a little nervous when I walked into Eaton's, past that big statue of Timothy Eaton (who perversely, looks a lot like Lenin). I was worried about making an ass of myself. This may sound foolish to you, but I'm one of those people that can act self-conscious in a flower garden. I'd be worried that I was intruding on the flowers' private business.

All turned out well in the end. I guessed correctly that my bed was a double, brought home so new linen, forest green and black, respectively, and two fitted sheets. The black one has been washed and is now on my bed, and my white cat has taken an instant liking to it. He's already been napping on it, and since my cats produce approximately two pounds of shedded cat hair every hour, I also have a new pillow that clashes with the sheets.

Again, my sheet-buying phobia will probably sound silly, but it occurred to be that there are dozens -- maybe even hundreds -- of tiny little things that every human being will be called upon to do in their life, but has no idea how to do it. In my case, I couldn't remember for certain what my bed size was, I had no idea how much I might be expected to pay. I had no idea if they could be bought separately, or would only be found in packages with pillow cases, etc. Buying fitted sheets is just one example. Maybe buying a fitted sheet is no big deal to you, but I'll bet there at least six things in your life that you "should" know how to do, that "everyone" knows how to do, but you don't.

I'll bet there are even more things in your life that you "should" have known how to do, but didn't until you surreptitiously observed someone else doing it, and then copied them. You didn't ask how because you were too embarrassed that you didn't know how to do such a simple thing. I know women who were never taught how to apply make-up. Too embarrassed to ask, they carefully watched and copied their girlfriends. There's even a sociological term for this: secret apprenticeship.

The problem with secret apprenticeship is that some signals or actions can be misinterpreted, leading to confusion. For example, let's say you don't know how to make a long distance call. You observe someone at work making one. He hits the 9 key to get an outside line, then hits 1, and dials the number. You go home confused as to why dialing 91 and then the number doesn't work.

I can think of hundreds of little things that might be glossed over when you're being brought up. Dropped in the adult world, you're expected to be independent and to know these things, but you don't. How to dial long distance, or collect. How to pay a phone bill. How to sew on a button. How to send a letter by normal post (especially in the days of email). Men should be shown how to interpret the mysterious code that is bra size. In fact, maybe women should be shown too, because contrary to popular belief, it isn't instinctive. And removing one while embracing a woman is really the kind of thing you want to be able to do smoothly, not learn on the fly. There should be some means of practising before you go into real situation.

There should be a class in high school for this sort of thing. In fact, there almost was in my school. It was called "Personal Life Management." Which, as I mentioned earlier, can lick my nutsack. Our school was actually created because our other area schools were overcrowded. So they created an entirely new Catholic school, just to house us. For the first three years, we were kept in temporary locations while they built the final school. During the first year, we were kept in some abandoned place out in Etobicoke. New teachers were hired, others were imported from here and there, and a curriculum had to be drawn up. We didn't have anything in the way of facilities, so our electives were rather limited (I think we had all of three to choose from). PLM (which can LMNS) was supposed to teach you how to organize your life. In truth, it was a way to waste time while they figured out what to do with us.

Instead of teaching us any kind of organization for our lives, they taught us highly theoretical courses on stuff like...the elderly. I don't remember much of that unit, but it can be boiled down to key issues: being old sucks, and kids are ungrateful little bastards. But we knew this, being both young and ungrateful little bastards. The next unit was on Parenting. At the time I thought this too was a waste of time, but I was wrong. My final year of high school saw 30 student pregnancies (hey, it was a Catholic school). So the parenting course did have its uses after all for some. But perhaps we should have done a unit on birth control too.

Of course, very little of what we learned was practical. We learned that children go through various stage of growth, blah blah blah, and it all meant bugger over all. How about learning how to change a diaper? Maybe students with younger brothers and sisters knew this, but I didn't. This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. When you have a baby, you don't instinctively know how to get a pair of stinky Huggies off 'em. You either have to be shown, or to struggle through it and teach yourself as you go. Since this process involves the handling and disposal of excrement, I think I'd like to have a veteran walk me through it the first couple of times.

Instead, we did shit (no pun intended) like the egg thing. You were given an egg, and you had to pretend it was a baby, and carry it with you everywhere. Then you had to present a log of where you went and what you did with the egg (in my case, the log was a tremendous piece of fiction). Thank God I went to school before they invented that goddamn baby doll they issue now. It actually cries at random intervals, and has a black box inside which writes an electronic log. If the baby cries, the parent must rock it to calm it. And it cries at random intervals. If you neglect it, and don't give it something it needs, it's noted on the log. The people that created this thing would be awaiting the firing squad if I were a dictator running this country.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on the program. If it teaches ungrateful little bastards not make more ungrateful little bastards, perhaps it has value. The same could not be said of the rest of PLM (which can LMNS), and it just made ungrateful little bastards more surly. And years later, one of them would stumble through the process of buying a fitted sheet.