Posted on the Squeetus Blog March 26, 2006 01:10 PM PST.

I've been read a book called Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman. In one of her essays, she writes about her experience reading a book that had belonged to her great-grandmother, The Mirror of True Womanhood, written in 1877 (by a priest--a single, interesting...). She finds some of it interesting, some of it laughable, and some plain irritating. The book's author, a Father O'Reilly, lists the prescribed virtues of a woman. Fadiman had her husband rate her on them on a 1-10 scale. I thought it was a funny idea, so I had Dean do the same for me. I should've known better. Dean will never give anything a 10 or a 0. He doesn't believe in absolutes. After seeing my scores, I had to return the favor. The numbers I gave Dean are in ():

Discrection - 4 (10)

Discipline - 9 (4)

Religious fervor - 8 (6)

Power to soothe and charm - 8 (7)

Truthfulness - 9 (5)

Thrift - 9 (6)

Avoidance of impure literature, engravings, paintings, and statuary - 6 (2)

Kindness - 8 (8)

Cheerfulness - 7 (4)

Order in the Home - his exact words were, "You try! Five." (3)

Abjuration of fashion - 4 (10)

Self-control - 7 (7)

Excellence in needlework - "Ten! Just kidding. Four." (0)

This exercise provoked some laughter as well as lively discussion.

S: Aren't I kinder than an eight?

D: No. That's where discretion comes into play.

And later...

D: I think I deserve a bit higher than a four on discipline.

S: Hm. So, how long ago did you start your unfinished book?

D: See, this is why you only got an eight on kindness.

And I guess the very fact that I'm posting this list is why I got a four on discretion.

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