Jamaica Kincaid has a great short story called "Girl," which is essentially a compendium of advice a mother gives a daughter. We PracCrit-ed this today, and it made me think of what how I would write such a piece, using the advice my mother gave me. One of the good things about Kincaid's story is that a good deal of the advice must have been passed down simply by observation - the daughter watching the mother and learning by non-verbal osmosis. So I tried to include that, too. Kincaid's piece has a purposive and designed narrative structure, but mine does not.
If you get gum on a piece of clothing, put it in the freezer, then pick the hardened gum off; if you accidentally dye something in the wash use Rit to get the dye out; wait a few minutes if the butter's too hard, because it melts quickly; keep cream cold when you're whipping it; make sure you don't get anything in the egg white you want to beat; there are dishes for the kitchen and there are dishes for the dining room; paper napkins are for everyday, cloth napkins are for best; cotton sheets are nicest, although they wrinkle; put your tights in the freezer for a day, then wash them, and they'll never run; always wash fabric after you buy it, so it can shrink before you make the piece of clothing; this is how you hem; this is how you slipstitch; when you go out somewhere important wear high heels; when you go to the opera or the ballet wear a skirt; don't buy a white winter coat; don't speak loudly if you don't need to; don't wear too much blush or people will think you're a hooker; this is how you talk to someone you like; this is how you talk to someone you want to make like you; this is how you talk to someone whose name you can't remember; listen carefully when someone tells a story; if you want boys to like you, be less spikey; before you break up with someone be sure you can't save the relationship; always wear a bra or else your breasts will sag; the last five pounds are the hardest; remember that sometimes your partner gets to make the decision; never let a man support you, but always make money of your own; remember that a long marriage ends up more like a close friendship; this is how to be kind to someone; this is how to be unkind to someone; this is how to apologise for being unkind to someone; this is how not to care that you have been unkind; remember to wait until everyone is served before you start to eat; don't stand up to make sure everyone is taking food, you are not a maid; don't speak in a language unless all members of the group know it; don't comb your hair in public; don't put on lipstick in public; don't wear red lipstick in the daytime; cover your mouth when you yawn; cover your mouth when you cough; animal prints are for trashy women and old ladies; always buy a new dress for a relative's wedding; never buy bouclé, because all it takes is one snag and it's ruined; this is how you get something out of your father; this is how you get something out of me; this is how you figure out how to get things out of other people; this is why you love your child even if she's not loveable; never say anything unkind about someone else's child, because they will hold it against you forever; this is how you give a child cold medicine; if you feel nauseous, put a trashcan by the bed just in case; this is how you keep a house clean; this is how you keep a house clean enough; this is how you do things efficiently; this is how you do things quickly; this is how you do things too quickly; this is how you make meringue; this is how you make roast beef; this is how you make scrambled eggs, not too loose, like your grandmother's; nur nicht alt werden; not everything is worth fighting for; always use birth control; therapy is good; don't do that - it's not nice.