By Leigh Newman
1. Apply liquid eyeliner.
It involves a brush. But it is not painting. There is a very clear right and wrong: Coloring outside the lines doesn't come off as creative or an expression of yourself.
2. Eat popcorn.
It is always in a bowl. The bowl is always too big for a human being. Though it’s painful to compete with another hand rooting around in your precious, buttery puffed kernels, you will be sick if you go solo.
3. See a movie with a trailer featuring a kid with raggedy clothes.
The only kids who wear raggedy clothes are kids whose parents died, can’t take care of them or disappeared. These kids often will have a dog or another animal you will also be obsessively worried about, even if it’s not addressed in the plot. (Example: "Beasts of the Southern Wild.")
4. Do the fake office smile.
Your boss has just talked for three hours about her kid’s bowling team. Somewhere at that conference table is a random soul who will meet your eyes and, without saying a word, get you through it by seeing your fake office grin and raising you an even faker one, making it clear that you are not the only one in the room who is dying inside and ensuring that if your boss picks up on the vibe... you’ll be fired together.
5. Wash a cat.
Cats are supposed to wash themselves. With their tongues. Which will not work if they roll around in their litter boxes (no…kitty…no!) or allow your toddler son to pour honey on them. You will need a bathtub, three large adults, oven mitts, ski goggles and a couple of Hazmat suits.
6. Send that poem you wrote late last night to your new boyfriend.
7. Send that email you wrote late last night to your old boyfriend.
8. Send that overly honest self-evaluation in to your human resources department.
9. Learn Japanese.
Or French. Or Swedish. DVDs can help. But languages require one mouth talking to another mouth. Even if you’re embarrassed and shy and really, really bad.
10. Write your own wedding vows.
When it comes to cheesy lines about soulmates, sunsets and the winds of time, love is also deaf.
11. Rock climb.
Five reasons: He. Cut. Off. His. Arm.
12. Hang that picture.
You may not mind tilting your head every time you enter the living room. But your guests will get a little dizzy.
13. Shop for glasses.
The girl behind the counter is there to sell you glasses. In particular, the pair that she didn't unload back in 2001, when looking like a big, mean ant was considered sexy.
14. Watch the live-birth film.
Especially not the one where the women have the babies while sitting up, standing up… or happily gardening, smiling away as another live human being falls out of them.
15. Go to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Yes, that shrimp is undercooked. And, no, you can’t pile seven of them on top of your pork chop and blueberry cobbler.
16. Sign for the down payment.
You will not see the buckling tile and black mold. You will see the house you can (finally!) afford… or almost afford if you just go on that no-food-ever diet that will allow you to lose weight and make your mortgage payment.
17. Yell at yourself.
It is really surprising how silly all those horrible things you say to yourself sound when you list them out loud to somebody else.
Leigh Newman is an editor at Oprah.com and the author of Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-Up World, One Long Journey Home.