In honor of its 75th anniversary the May Esquire has a big pullout feature called "75 Skills Every Man Should Master." The premise — Magazines! Lists! — is not exactly revolutionary, and the "skills," such as practicing "brand loyalty to at least one product" and "making three different bets at a craps table" are not exactly universally vital, but I'm writing about the feature precisely because it's so classically Esquire. Esquire is a magazine about "how to be a better man" or some John Wayne shit like that. Esquire doesn't try and tell its readers they are fine just the way they are. Esquire likes rules, definites, moral "absolutes" to substitute for the old moral absolutes in which modern society is so woefully deficient. Glamour would, for whatever reason, never tell its readers they needed to know how to deliver a eulogy or install a thermostat without asking for help, because they are too busy telling their readers to not feel guilty about being too emotional to deliver the eulogy without breaking down, or ask a dude for help installing the thermostat. Thank the nonexistent moral authorities that I don't get paid Glamour rates to write this stuff, right?
Chop vegetables like Penelope Cruz in Volver.
Onions, peppers, garlic cloves and olive oil: are there truer friends in times of economic woe? (Besides Top Ramen duh.) Is there any other aspect of women's work so fundamental to the survival of the species? I dunno, I'm just making excuses, I just think it's sexy.
Choose a perfume.
Floral scents, what can I say: I hate them. Yes, toilet water is an overpriced luxury good, but considering all the cash we blow on overpriced luxury goods dedicated to appealing to one's sense of sight and touch, you'd think we wouldn't be so thoughtless when it comes to the ritual of coughing up a hundred bucks to have that whole other sense covered for the next half year. So go: I may never encourage you to spend money again; spend some quality time at Sephora and come out smelling like something more interesting than a boutique hotel.
Tell the truth.
I can't make it tonight. I have a date. I'm interested in your ex-boyfriend. When you cheated on your husband it really disturbed me. You should maybe look into taking responsibility for your actions. "I would like to put a hit out on your therapist." I know, it's not easy. But isn't that kind of sad?
Gossip is analogous to bacteria; humankind could not survive without it, but it can be deleterious in an unhealthy context. Get into the habit of withholding a certain amount of pointless amusing information just to keep your immune system in shape.
Take nothing personally.
He didn't do it to hurt you, and if he did, that's fucking weird. Humans are self-obsessed, that's the only reason you think this is about you, when it's really about something that has left people much smarter than us befuddled for millennia now, so you might as well focus on what you can control, which leads me to...
Take yourself personally.
Your persistent low self-esteem: how did it get that way? Were you awkward growing up? Not quick or witty enough? Just ugly? Once you gained a shred of confidence, did you blow your wad seeking out companions you knew would make you feel inadequate? Why? Think you're a narcissist? Or just a weak person? Guess what? We're all different. We're all completely individual assemblages of genetic traits and collected experiences. We're all special, which is precisely what makes us so un-special. If you harbor lingering dissatisfaction with yourself, figuring out what it is is a pretty good way to start coming to terms with that.
Apply makeup without a mirror.
You do this every day, right? Have a little faith in your abilities. Be that girl who is capable of leaving the house on three minutes' notice.
Ikea would not sell $20 billion worth of furniture every year if putting it together was really that hard. It's a pain in the ass, sure. Your ancestors got their water from wells.
It has never been easier. There are vibrators at CVS. Porn is an ill-advised Google Image Search away. And really, we all need sex. If you masturbate enough, you'll only seek out casual sex for self-affirmation. And knowing you are doing that will make it a lot easier to handle rejection!
Get hit on politely.
Go ahead and smile, make eye contact; he's probably not trying to rape you. The sexual charge will defuse over time and in the interim you can maybe make a friend. Dudes bear an unfair percentage of the responsibility for flirting in this society, just as we bear an unfair percentage of the responsibility for looking pretty. Let's be sympathetic to one another, how about?
There's an unlimited number of reasons you should. To do anything about any of that you have to stop crying eventually. You'll know when.
On second thought, laugh!
God, don't we feel lame after all that crying? So lame we actually laughed at that Dane Cook bit on the lameness of crying. Anything will make you laugh when you've finally gotten sick of crying, but hey, that's cool, dudes love it when you laugh at your jokes and that heady mix of "no pride" and "no standards" is the essence of funny jokes and good drunken one-night stands. Try to laugh as much as possible.
Know when you truly cannot do something.
And fuck no I am not talking about living heavy objects or figuring out how to use Excel. I'm talking about making as much money as your sorority friends, or having a child by 35, or marrying your boyfriend, or being anything better than mediocre at something you think is important.
I know, I know; I don't do them either. But someday we should all learn for ourselves how to abuse the loopholes in the tax code, right? It's our patriotic duty.
Talk about astrology.
Geminis and Libras get along; Virgos are neurotic; stay away from Scorpio men. It's what passes for Universal Truths these days, and you know what? It's not starting any wars. Maybe because astrology understands that people are fundamentally different, and in order to coexist with them peacefully you've got to not only try to apply the Golden Rule but try to figure out what motivates them, and how they would like to be treated.
Know why talking about astrology is bullshit.
Praying and loving are good skills to have, too, but if you can't nourish yourself without experiencing a complex range of guilts and fears and anxieties, you need help.
If you're bored, you may be on some level boring. Of course, we all are. Why do you want to hang out with your boring friends anyway? There are a lot of unboring people who have dedicated their lives to making books and movies and videogames to keep you happy.
Break up with someone before you cheat on them.
Tell someone you're mad before you find yourself getting passive-aggressive.
This was the suggestion of my roommate. Ha.
Better yet, ignore the anger.
It will find more useful targets.
It's not denial if you are aware you're doing it!
Invest in the stock market.
The ready access to money represented in the constant trading of the global stock markets is the foundation of our economy. So it's not, you know, like fucking football. Much evidence of late points to the idea that women's relative lack of testosterone give us an advantage, especially in markets as jittery as these, when it comes to making money there. And who among us couldn't think of better things to do with a little chunk of Goldman's $21 billion bonus pool?
Have a sincere intellectual conversation with a fellow female.
Talk about post-structuralism, not in the context of The Hills. Talk about the war with someone you aren't trying to fuck. It's kind of thrilling what happens when two people who are biologically predisposed to listen to one another exchange ideas.
Call your mom.
And if you don't have one, or if you're estranged from her; if it's complicated or she's in a mental institution or dead in a car accident, please feel free to call me and remind me what an asshole I am to have the most awesome mom in the universe that I fucking never remember to call.
Okay, that's all. 25. All we need is 50 more and we'll totally reach parity with those highly-skilled Esquire readers! I know you have ideas.