Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lessons from Home Ec

Watching Mad Men makes me flash back to the only part of my youth that was anything like the late 50s/early 60s: Home Ec.

I can't believe this class still existed when I was in high school--apparently now they've updated it to Culinary Arts. But when I was there, it was still full-on home ec. We learned cooking (sort of), but also sewing, deportment, why we shouldn't chew gum, and how to balance a checkbook. The teacher, a Joan Holloway type, tried her best to teach us to be proper ladies, with the subtext of being good wives and mothers.

Now that I've been a wife for a good many years and a mother for ten (and I am also a lot more than that besides, thank you very much), I thought it might be interesting to take a quick look back at some of those lessons we had, and see which ones are worth listening to.

Let's do it. HOME EC: Keep or Toss?

Lesson: How to Sit Like a Lady

The memory of this lesson still makes me laugh. We learned how to sit in that awkward way TV hosts and princesses do--with one leg crossed over the other, both slanted the same direction. There's no chance of under-skirt flashing, sure. But you also feel like a pretzel, and your legs get stiff and sore in about 2 minutes. I've never used this except to show people how silly it is.

Verdict: TOSS

Lesson: How to Walk Like a Lady

We donned high heels and walked across the room with spines straight, books balanced on our head. I am completely serious. It was just like Princess Diaries. The problem is whether you can balance books on your head depends more on whether your head is flattish on top than whether you have a straight spine. Plus it's ridiculous. I do think sitting up straight is valuable--I have a note on my monitor that says "Sit up straight!" because I don't and it hurts my back to slump. But walking with books?

Verdict: TOSS

Lesson: How to Put a Condom on a Banana

Um...on second thought I am totally skipping this one.

Lesson: How to Make Blueberry Muffins

The funny thing is all I remember from this lesson is that I failed it--because part of the lesson was to fold fresh blueberries in the batter with the correct technique so the batter didn't turn purple. My batter was bright purple, baby. FAIL. I do love to cook now, but I've never really needed the "folding blueberries" part.

Verdict: TOSS

Lesson: How to Put Make-up on So You Won't Wrinkle

This stuck with me more than anything else we learned. The teacher stressed that to avoid early wrinkles around your eyes, you should *always* put make-up or lotion on with your third (ring) finger. Somehow using your third finger put less pressure on the area than the other fingers, and presto when we were older like her we would not be all wrinkly. I have always put make-up on with my third finger. I gotta tell you, it kind of works.

Verdict: KEEP

What do you know? I learned something after all. Just don't ask me to sit like a princess or make white blueberry muffins, and we're all good.

I am pretty sure I'm not much of a lady, though. Also, I can't sew worth a damn. *shrug*

Please tell me someone else had Home Ec like this? Got any stories?


DeadlyAccurate said...

Ours wasn't quite that old-fashioned (I'm 38 for reference). We did learn cooking and sewing and maybe the balancing checkbook part, but nothing about being ladies. There were plenty of boys in the class, too.

My sewing skills still suck. We had to make t-shirts, and it was probably the only time in my life my mom helped me cheat (by doing the collar). Seriously, I can only barely manage a button.

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study hard,,,,ok