Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Do Girlfriends Come with Manuals?

I have taught communication skills to undergraduate computer science students for several years.  Every semester one of my students asks, "Do girlfriends come with a manual?" 
-- No, not any more.  My friend, Suzanne, explains it this way:

Do girlfriends come with a manual?

They used to.  The manuals said that girlfriends must always make themselves attractive to the men.  They must be feminine, attentive, and obedient.  They must not put their own desires or interests ahead of their boyfriends’.  They must get permission from their fathers to date and must abide by their fathers’ rules.  They must be chaste, so as not make their boyfriends feel threatened by their sexual experience.  But they must also appear desirable so that their boyfriends will feel respected by other men.

A copy of the manual was given to each young man when he got his first girlfriend.  The men studied the manuals carefully.  Politicians made laws according to the teachings of the manual.  Religious authorities devised morality according to the teachings of the manual.  Doctors defined health according to the manual.  Fathers and husbands trained their daughters and their wives according to the teachings of manual.

Then one day, a woman was doing the laundry.  In the pocket of her husband’s trousers, she found a book of matches.  She called all of her friends and asked them to meet her in the parking lot of the town’s school and to bring each family’s copy of the manual.  When all the women arrived, they formed a circle.  The woman with the matchbook gave one match to each wife, mother, and daughter.  They stood for a moment looking into each other’s eyes.  Then they bent down, struck the matches on the asphalt, and lit the manuals on fire.

Since that day, there are no longer manuals for girlfriends.  Men and women do not know what will happen when they come together.  There is a sense of apprehension.  But there is a sense of adventure.

1 comment:

  1. JDA says, "Suzanne should publish that as a short, short story. She can call it "HeManual."