Posted by: marykfurness | December 14, 2010

“Anything You Can Do…..

…I can do better! I can do anything better than you!”  Annie Oakley sang that to Frank Butler in “Annie Get Your Gun”.  And yes, once again I slip in a musical reference, although not a Christmas one.  However, my blog is prompted by numerous Christmas activities, so bear with me here.

A full-dress event (as in black-velvet, high heels, etc. for me) 2 weekends ago, plus 2 music concerts for our son prompted my thoughts on what skills people should have in this day and age.  The fact that I had to tie a 19-year-old guy’s tie for him at the aforementioned full-dress event (and he the son of a high-ranking military man!), and that at my son’s concerts many of the participants could not follow simple directions (“fill in the row from the far end–no, THAT is the FAR end”) recalled a favorite part of a favorite book of mine.

For years I’ve been a fan of science fiction/fantasy author and Missouri native (Butler, MO) Robert Heinlein.  In his 1973 novel, “Time Enough for Love”, he has sections entitled “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”, divided into Intermission and Second Intermission.  In the Intermission, one section has always stood out:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects!”

OK.  I have to say that, while this works in the book, it doesn’t necessarily work in real life.  But, if I shift the paradigm a bit, I think I can make it work.  Change a diaper–absolutely. Invasion, butcher hog, conn ship–nah.  But–make simple clothing repairs, like stitching up a tear, sewing on a button; definitely.  Design a building–maybe not, but putting up a pre-fab shed; sure.  Write a sonnet–maybe, maybe not, but writing a proper business letter, absolutely!  Balance accounts–yes; build a wall/fence–yes; set a bone–meh, but render first aid–totally!  Follow up to the pitch manure part–not so sure about that, but we shouldn’t be squeamish about picking up after our cat or dog.  I can’t program a computer, but I am working on staying up with current technology.  Cook a tasty meal–absolutely, positively!!  And not just by putting something in the microwave.  Fight efficiently–with words, self-defense, etc.  And if at all possible, allow those you love  to die with dignity.

Now, a few other things. Know how to change a car tire. Know how to clean house. Know how to dress appropriately for all occasions; weddings, funerals, concerts in which you participate (guys, that means learning how to tie a tie by the age of 18!).  A semi-formal event does not mean jeans, a sweatshirt and a ball cap!! Use proper grammar when writing or speaking your native language. 

Yes, I realize I will probably get flamed for standing on my little soapbox here, and letting my voice ring out in the wilderness.  But at least I know I’ve done my best.

Merry, Happy, Joyous Winter Whatever You Celebrate!  (Did I include everybody there??) *smile*


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