The Man Card.
Truth be told, I'm not sure what rights and privileges are associated with the thing, but I do know that expressing a lack of knowledge in certain areas will cause other men to revoke the holder's man card... To avoid this happening, go read up on The Art of Manliness. I admit that even I enjoy reading some of the stuff there. While I could care less than half a whit about how to tie knots in my fishing cord or shave like my great-grandfather, I do appreciate information on how to make a stellar cocktail, talk to bartenders and properly introduce guests to one another.
But I'm a girl, so enough about the Man Card. There is a common concept amongst my friends about "Girl School." That mysterious day in school when the boys were separated from the girls and they taught us all the feminine mysteries. It was, in reality, quite disappointingly just an out-of-date film about bodily functions.
In most references, we find ourselves lamenting that we missed a certain day in Girl School. I, for one, missed the day where they taught the importance of matching your purse to your shoes. I am a one-purse-at-a-time girl. The current specimen is black, with lots of pockets, and enough room for the average paperback novel. Stylish? Not really. I also missed the days on Haute Coture and Designer fashion. I can't tell a Prada from a Coach from a Louis Vuitton, and I had to Google how to spell that last one. I recently spent more than 2.5 seconds considering which shoes to wear with a certain outfit. Not in a sophisticated "which style would look best and accentuate this ensemble to the fullest potential" kind of way. In the "oh, do I wear black or brown?" kind of way. I was shocked! Color Coordination was one of my major areas of study in Girls School. I only really dabbled in Application of Accessories, but I've taken several CE courses with qualified instructors* over the years. Yet there I was, confused by the tan pants. The only thing to do, once I realized I was wearing black accents and thus needed black shoes, was to go straight to the bathroom to reaffirm my girly-girl qualifications. I was aces at make-up application and have worked hard to remain up to speed with trends and techniques. I opened my ridiculous collection of colors and brushes, consulted my mental catalogue and pulled out a muted smokey eye suitable for day office wear with an understated, but flattering, red glossy lip. I felt firmly feminine again.
There are lots of things that I missed in Girl School. Sewing, Mending, and most forms of crafts involving needles, including knitting and crochet. I scrapped by with a passing grade in Kitchen Witching, but have taken a few extra courses over the years that bring me up to snuff. I couldn't pass Make Stuff Grow at all--not the Visual or Edible versions. Arts and Crafts was a challenge--not because I lack the imagination or skill, but mostly because I lack the patience. I did pretty well at Freestyle Dance while failing quite miserably at most structured dances, due to an overabundance of enthusiasm paired with a devastating lack of coordination and discipline. I did alright in Music, so long as the instrument is me, and not something else. I'm currently working on my certification in Eyebrow Adjustments. Storytelling, Make Believe, Dress Up, Shoulder to Cry On (and the follow up "Make Them Laugh Through the Tears), How to make a Hair Do out of the Contents of Your Purse--those I'm pretty good at.
I have, however, managed to surround myself with ladies who are good at all the things I am not. Amazing cooks, bakers, hostesses, dancers, knitter, gardeners, seamstresses, milliners, skirt tuckers, eye-lash batters, save-the-world-with-a-bobby-pin-ers, and more. If any of them happen to lack skills in Eye Make-Up Application, or Removable Jigga-Flern 101, I'm here to help.
Of course, The Art and Power of Being a Lady is so much more than fashion and accessories. To sum up, a quote from that lovely book: "Being a lady is an attitude. It's about being content with ourselves and confident in our abilities. It's about feeling good and about looking good, too. But mainly it's about doing good."
So all the primping and preening and prepping goes into creating at atmostphere of confidence and joy. We feel good, because we look good, and so we want to do more good for those around us. We help our friends look and feel their best on their worst days. We cook and craft gifts for holidays and Tuesdays and because we heard a song on the radio that reminded us of someone we love. We lend hands and care for pets and plants when friends are out of town. We entertain babies. We loan out our husbands for heavy lifting and making of stuff with wood and glue and saws and nails. Our hands are eager to help, however and wherever needed.
That's the real magic of Girl School. Whatever day you missed, whatever skill you lack, just look to your girlfriends. They've probably got it in spades.
*An invaluable piece of advice, passed on to me by a good friend, comes from Coco Chanel (or so urban legend says). When you're done, dressed, and ready to go--take one thing off. That way, you'll never be too much, over done, or trying too hard.