by Mel cross posted from her blog when Cows and Kids Collide
All quotes from the book are in blue text.
I think the hardest genre of writing is satire. Finding a workable balance between sympathy and criticism requires walking a razor edge.
Chapter Nine, which is titled “Rules of Engagement: Practical Tips on Interaction and Conversation”, includes dialogue that is either poor satire or insulting as hell.
Really, the fact that I am most grateful for is that the Botkin Sisters didn’t try dialogue prior to Chapter Nine. The results are agonizing enough that I’m placing samples in this post rather than having these hanging over my head.
Overarching Theme: Freaking awful conversations
On how to introduce a chapter:
“It was the worst night of Cinderella’s life. Her big dream of going to the ball in a beautiful dress had come true, but was turning into a nightmare. Here she was in the glittering court, looking like a million dollars, right in front of the prince himself, and she had no idea what to do.
Prince Charming’s inner voice: There’s a shy-looking girl. I think I’ll go over and say hello.
Cinderella’s inner voice: Oh no. Here he comes. I can’t look over – he’ll think I was looking at him. I’ll turn my back and pretend I didn’t see him.
Prince Charming’s inner voice: Huh – she’s not very friendly. Maybe I’ll go talk to that nice ugly sister of hers instead.” (pg. 155)
- The Cinderella/Prince Charming motif is carried throughout the chapter. I’ve never been a huge Cinderella fan, but by the end of the chapter I was cringing every time the name Cinderella came up.
- Think about what this tableau would look like from the outside. Prince Charming is standing at a ball near Cinderella. Cinderella stands quietly then turns her back to Prince Charming. Prince Charming walks past her. This happens hundreds of times at large gatherings without any deep consequences.
- I had a strong negative reaction to the use of the adjective “ugly” in describing the stepsister. The Botkin Sisters have stated a whole heap of times that you can judge people by the outside so I don’t feel comfortable with their judgement towards ugly people.
On how to use Biblical dialogue to learn how to talk to guys:
“Let’s examine a few snatches of biblical dialogue and see what we can learn about how these women did it (without leading anyone on or getting the jitters).
Eleazar: Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.
Rebekah: Drink, my lord. [Quickly lets down her jar upon her hand and gives him a drink.] I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking1.
What do we see here? First, kindness and respect, mixed together graciously. Then we see her take initiative to offer him more than he asked for, in a rather bold display of thoughtfulness and hospitality.
1Genesis 24:17-19” (pg. 156)
- This is the shortest of three real quotes from the Bible. The other two are between Boaz and Ruth followed by Abigail and David. In other words, the Botkin Sisters are using conversations between a servant / kinswoman, a refugee / older male relative, and a frightened woman/ warlord to explain how girls should talk to boys. I’m not very confident about the outcome of this.
- Women are supposed to be kind, respectful, thoughtful and hospitable. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking this idea – but I suspect that the Botkin Sisters don’t require that men follow the same rules.
- How bold is it to offer to water someone’s livestock after a long trip? It’s not that bold, really.
On choosing conversational topics:
“Education and vocabulary notwithstanding, the people we are inside – the things we think about and find interesting and important will come out through our mouths in one way or another. What can we learn about this young lady from her mode of parlance?
Prince: Those shoes appear to be made of something unusual.
Cinderella: I know, they’re so me! I totally love what these shoes say about my personality. I’m a total shoe person. I’m the kind of person who always go for shoes made out of unusual stuff. Oh, speaking of shoes, I did the funniest thing last week….
Rather than turn the conversation into a discussion on the many creative uses of glass, or the philosophy of taste or the science of podiatry, she defaults to the only topic she can speak on with any conviction or authority: herself.” (pgs. 166-167)
- *rubs forehead* That’s some really questionable advice.
- Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t show our absolute best side when meeting a new guy or girl we are attracted to. I know I’ve found myself yammering more times than I want to admit. Cinderella might sound air-headed in example, but that means that she’s nervous. A prince worth keeping would give her a break.
- Read the following “turned discussions” and decide how much better these conversations when I Botkinized them…
- Thanks! I love glass. Do you watch “How Things Are Made?” No? Oh, well, it’s a Canadian TV show that explains how items are crafted. I watched an episode recently where recreations of Tiffany lamps were made. It’s an amazing detailed process! Oh, yes. I remember all the steps! The first step is matching color samples……
- Thanks! I love glass. I was reading about whether there are objective standards within each form of art that are universally agreed upon that create what we call taste. What are your beliefs about the presence or absence of universally applicable objective standards of taste?
- Thanks! I love glass, but I’m concerned that if people wear these frequently the shoes will mess up people’s feet and cause bunions. What do you think about the American Podiatric Medical Association’s recent treatment bulletin on surgical treatments for bunions?
- I believe that Prince Charming would be well within his rights to think “I need a drink. A strong drink.”
On how intelligent women appear around men:
“Here’s an example of the kind of scene we see contributing to the men-hate-smart-women misunderstanding:
Prince: Hey, nice ride you came in! It kind of reminded me of a pumpkin.
Cinderella: That’s because I think it’s more responsible to go organic. My transportation choice should leave a smaller carbon footprint than of anyone else at the ball. Parenthetically, I might also point out that is the most likely to win the blue ribbon at the Alternative Energies and Sustainable Agriculture Eco-Faire. If I were you, I would be educating my subjects more on the evils of pollution. Not that I would expect anyone with a limousine to care about the state of the planet.
Prince: Do you have any nice ugly step-sisters I could be talking to instead?” (pg. 172)
- This snippet is supposed to show how intelligent women can sound rude when they need to be right (e.g. don’t tell the guy he’s wrong!). The problem is that that snippet shows how annoying someone can be when they are both self-righteous AND not conversant in an area.
- The USA “Organic” seal does not mean that an item has a low carbon footprint. The largest component of carbon footprints is often the transportation and storage of produce like pumpkins. An “Organic” banana in Michigan often has a much worse carbon foot-print than a non-organic apple simply because the apples come from within the state while bananas have to travel long distances.
- The word “parenthetically” means as a side note. Bragging how the pumpkin coach is going to win at the Alternative Energies and Sustainable Agriculture Eco-Faire isn’t a side note in this conversation.
- The pumpkin ride is going to win the blue ribbon in what category? Fairs have categories.
- Cinderella’s line about the limousine is plain bitchy, but so is Prince Charming’s response.
Good news! We are halfway through Chapter Nine!
Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.
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