It got me thinking – how did I stack up against this list? I have mere months to go, after all, of my mid 30s, before I reach my late 30s on August 1 and actually turn 40 on August 9. Big Four Oh My Gods, indeed!
Here’s Rachel’s list, with my responses / justifications / excuses following for the 20 things I should know before 40.
1. How to change a tyre. There is nothing sexier than a capable woman who is not scared of a little grease.
I admit I am, in fact, unable to change a tyre. I do, however, have the NRMA on speed dial and have been a member ever since I got my Australian driver’s license in 2003. If I wanted to do IVF, I had to drive myself across town to the clinic for very early appointments, so I had to suck it up like the princess I am and get my driver’s license. I have it on very good authority that the NRMA are excellent tyre changers. I do possess a little known (or, to be honest, used) skill relating to the automobile. I can start a car with a crank handle. Yes, it does require a car of a certain age, but I can do it. Without dislocating my thumb, like the show offy garage boy who insisted on restarting my car for me and wouldn’t listen to my helpful thumb-protecting suggestions. I do miss my 1960 Morris Minor.
2. How to open a bottle of champagne without flinching. I’m always surprised how many people pass me the champagne to pop. Not that I mind, it’s one of my favourite sounds. Even my dog has been trained to come running for it.
I simply adore Champagne and have years of excellent practice of whipping the top off a bottle. I’ve never attempted the sabre service, however, but I have taken out a lightbulb and once scored a direct hit on a dinner party guest’s bonce.
3. How to whip up a dinner party on short notice
Well, let me think. I could knock off a batch of tuna and sweetcorn mini quiches in about 10 minutes and we’ve already covered the Champagne. That’s the entree sorted. A mad dash to my local shops would equip me with heirloom tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella for an insalata caprese with fresh Kimba-grown basil. The best emergency dessert ever comes in a packet – Donna Hay Molten Chocolate Chunk Brownie, ever so slightly undercooked for perfect centre gooeyness, served with King Island double cream and raspberries – also available at the local shops. Frozen raspberries blasted in the microwave make a creditable attempt at berry compote. If you squint. I’m missing a main course, but luckily, I had the excellent taste and incredible foresight to marry the Welshman, who is the household chef, so I’ll get him to take care of the actual food. Done!
4. How to set the dinner table correctly for your short-notice, dinner party
Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Got this one in the bag. Or more importantly, in the buffet cabinet.
5. Give yourself a good blow dry. Not just drying your hair but giving it big, body and bounce.
Not only can I do this, I also know how to get a really good haircut and use the correct products so that I can get a good 3-4 days out of a ‘do. Even more importantly, I know how to style my hair so that it air dries into perfect curls.
6. Know what you like (and don’t like) sexually
Yup. Sorted. Nope, no deets!
7. To be able to eat alone in a restaurant or go to a movie by yourself
Tick and tick!
8. Enjoy being alone and not confusing this for loneliness
I am very good company, if I do say so myself.
9. Wear red lipstick without also wearing it all over your face or teeth
I know how to do this. Doesn’t mean I always manage it though. My capped front tooth (never remove a drawing pin from the wall with your teeth, even if The Edge is in the wrong position) attracts lipstick like you wouldn’t believe.
10. Know that it’s ok, and sometimes a lot of fun, to step out of your comfort zone
Hell to the yeah! This is where “fake it ’til you make it” comes in veddy veddy handy!
11. How to laugh at yourself
Hello? Have you met me? Self deprecating to the core. Trust me, if you are as klutzy as me, you have to laugh at yourself. So much easier than crying!
We had our friends-who-are-family over for lunch on the recent long weekend, and they delighted in sharing this little tale. My Gorgeous Girl burst out laughing one day at home (they insisted it was cackling, we are both equally adamant it is laughing) and her Delightful Daughter piped up and said “Mum! You sound just like Kimba!”. Just had to laugh at that one!
12. Know how to receive a compliment. It’s okay to say ‘Thank you’ when someone says something nice. Don’t try to fob it off and make them argue their compliment point. Saying thank you doesn’t mean you agree, just that you appreciate their words.
I am so down with this that I am always trying to train other people to follow this excellent suggestion too. Bossy? Moi?
13. Not to delay pap smears or breast exams
So vitally important. After years of chronic illness, I am at the doctors at the first sign of a potential problem. I’d much rather be called a hypochondriac than miss something and go downhill healthwise. Again.
14. How to say ‘No’
One little word. One syllable. Two letters. N. O. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Done. I learnt that it is better to do things properly rather than spread myself too thin by saying “yes” to everything. No one respects a yes (wo)man. Now, if only I could say “no thank you” to another piece of cake more often!
15. How to be a good guest. Don’t underestimate this one.
I keep getting invited back so I’m going to take that as a tick. I would add know how to be a good host. I fail dismally at this. I make people feel comfortable but always forget to offer them drinks because I’m so excited to hear all their news.
16. How to use correct table manners
As my Great Gran would say “lions off the table”. I have the correct table manners – I just must remember to use them more often.
17. How to ask for help when you need it
I would not have gotten through any part of childbearing, child raising, chronic illness or just plain life without knowing how to do this. The trick was learning to know when I needed to say “I can’t do this on my own”. There is strength in admitting you need help.
18. Be proud of being a woman and flaunt it if you feel like it. There is nothing wrong with a little cleavage or some leg
Which is handy because I have quite a lot of both. The key part of this suggestion is that little teeny tiny word “OR”. Breast or thigh. Not both. I am not a rotisserie chicken any more than I am a spring chicken.
19. How to love yourself and know you are loveable
How on earth do you expect people to love you if you don’t love yourself? I ask you! There’s a difference between loving yourself until you are so far up yourself you can wear your pubes as a moustache – and knowing that you’re pretty bloody awesome just the way you are and that you deserve love. I’m hoping I’ve found the right balance, because I don’t think that a moustache is a very good look on a lady.
20. How to choose happiness
I recently turned my life completely upside down in order to search for my own happiness, and to return to being the Kimba I knew and loved so that the people I loved had their Kimba back too. There are many things I would give up before happiness. Yes, even shopping. Yup, Champagne too. Without happiness, I am not myself. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not good.
Rachel poses the question “What else do you think we should know before 40?” We’d both love you to share your knowledge! Bring on the Big Four Oh My Gods! All I have to do to score top marks on 20 things I should know before 40 is learn how to change a tyre. Well, I did learn. I just can’t remember. And I’m cool with that.