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The Skinny By Elaine Langlois

Whoo hoo! It's The Skinny 3 Year Anniversary!

We'd like to thank Elaine for sharing her brilliant wit for the past three wonderful years. We've created a guestbook for well wishers to send their thoughts praise, thanks, cash, here. We're absolutely certain that Elaine, a "hatchet-faced and obdurate" (her description not ours) New Englander loves all the fuss!



What is Patience? Is it a Puritan gal who dances naked in the woods in a film, played by Winona Ryder? A hybrid car? Or perhaps the latest feminine product?

Patience is a virtue. Oh, one of those, you say to yourself, wondering whether there is any point in prolonging this conversation. But wait. Virtues are hot! They're the topics of bestselling books and fatuous speeches by preachers and politicians. Few people have them, which should be enough to make you want to get some of your own.

Are You Patient?

Take our quiz and find out!

1. You show up at the dentist's office for a checkup on the wrong day. Eight or ten other people are waiting for their appointments. You:

Offer the rest of your latté to anyone who will let you take her place.

Have a few whispered, arrogant words with the dentist and get in next.

Settle down to read magazines and balance your checkbook until you can be accommodated. (hah!)

2. You discover you're pregnant! You:

Visit a fetal photo shop each week to have your picture taken (36 shots of a steadily growing blob).

Determine the baby's sex and set about arranging a marriage.

Read What to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the First Year, and so on, down through puberty.

3. How would you describe yourself?

My muscles are constantly tense, and I grit my teeth all the time, even when I'm making pancakes.

I worry that wrinkles between my brows are giving others the wrong impression.

I'm 5'4"; a Libra; high-maintenance; willowy, yet well endowed. I like long walks on the beach, fine restaurants, vacuous conversation, and very expensive jewelry.

4. Which of the following best characterizes your personal philosophy?

There should be express lines everywhere, like the ones for getting on airplanes, based on level of importance.

Other people's desires and needs are less important than my own.

I should have exactly what I want when I want it, and the hell with everyone else.

We could give you your score, but you're probably too impatient to care. So on to:

Learning Patience

Learning patience need not involve much effort on your part. Like driving, patience can be learned from reading a book (though preferably not while driving). Try an old book of fairy tales, where something gruesome happens to children who lack patience or don't pick up after themselves. How about naming your daughter Patience? Or your golden retriever?

A good way to cultivate patience is to take up knitting. Yes, knitting, like granny used to do. Unless you've been living in a closet, you know we're in the midst of a knitting craze, young and old, women as well as men.

But how, you may ask, am I supposed to learn patience from knitting—let along have the patience to learn to knit—when I can't be bothered to read the instructions on a package of noodles? Well, we're not sure, but really, that's your problem, isn't it?

Your early efforts will probably inspire a host of tumultuous feelings: worries about your memory (as you keep losing count of your stitches), wistful longings for the afghans and hats Granny made you, which you pitched years ago but which are trendy now (and you could pass them off as your own work). A sense of incompetence and biting jealousy as you fumble along and drop stitches while your seven-year-old nephew whips out a monogrammed sweater for the cat.

But keep at it, and soon (though not very soon), you will be turning out lovely scarves, toaster covers, and a poncho like the one Martha Stewart was wearing when she left prison (free pattern from DailyKnitter.com).

When you manage not to scream invective at the kids because they aren't ready precisely at 7:35, or contain your road rage when a Hummer cuts you off at a four-way stop, give yourself a reward. A Mars Bar; a hairband; a brightly colored piece of tinfoil you can bat across the floor. Don't you feel more patient already?

But perhaps although you like to think of yourself as patient, and want other people to think you are patient, you aren't, and you don't plan to be. Simply put a few samplers around the house, or signs on the front lawn, with sayings like "Patience is a virtue" and "This family practices the seven virtues." The thing to do about virtues these days is to advertise you have them, dare people to think you don't have them, and . . . don't have them.

© 2005 Elaine Langlois

We've created a guestbook so that you may send Elaine your best wishes it can be found here .