We dated the Zeros… so you don’t have to.


Life Lessons My Daughter Won’t Learn in Pre-K


As a mother, I want what’s best for my daughter and I make sure she’s prepared for the different obstacles life will throw at her. As soon as she was born, I taught her French. Once, she could hold her head up, I taught her how to scribble, now that she can open my wallet, I taught her how to count. Of course, it goes without saying that I enrolled her in pre-school long before she was conceived. During school tours I was stunned to discover that playing dumb was not part of the curriculum.  We all know that sometimes the best self-defense for women is to play dumb, yet schools don’t teach the basic skills required to effectively achieve that goal. How can we expect our girls to be successful and safe in this world if they don’t know how to defend themselves?

I had lived in New York City for many years and I was considered an expert in self-defense; so I offered to practice mock scenarios at my baby’s daycare. My offer landed me a visit to the daycare’s Principal’s office. I got to hear all about Mr. Principal’s outrage as he kept repeating:

“Teaching girls to play dumb is just wrong, it’s so wrong, so old fashioned.”

I understood exactly what he was saying; teaching one more subject to our girls was just too much work for him.  I offered to teach the course for free and again, he went off:

“We need to treat little boys and little girls the exact same way.”

How can we treat them the same when boys are clearly born dumber than girls? If we don’t nip this in the bud in daycare, it’ll be too late for girls to ever catch up to little boys. The sexist principal threw me out of his office, his official excuse for not allowing my course: “it was not educational enough.”

So, in order to help my daughter and other girls out there, I’ve compiled a list of skills females must master in order to “have a life.” In an effort to be more educational, I’ve combined my list with the precious letters of the Alphabet. I sat my baby down and began with lesson number 1.


Scenario number one, baby, let’s say you’re working as a location’s intern on an independent movie, let’s say a Hal Hartley movie, which will win an Oscar or something.  Whenever the crew moves to a new location, your job is to locate the closest coffee shop and bring coffees back to who ever needs a fix.  You have no problem doing this, except when the coffee is for the one guy who purposely waits for you to come back from a coffee run to order his cup.  So, baby, what to you do?  Since you can’t talk because you’re one year-old and all, I’ll tell you how you should handle this situation.

First, you smile, but not too much, (never smile too much) and you say to him, “Sure, I’ll be right back,”

You walk the four blocks to the coffee shop at your normal pace. Buy the coffee. Fold the receipt, put it in your petty cash envelope and pour half a pound of sugar in that small cup of coffee. Place the lid back on and walk back to set, all the while making sure you don’t spill anything.  Once on set, hand the coffee over to the guy and step aside.  After his first sip, he’ll know with whom he’s dealing.  This is a win-win situation for you: on the one hand you did your job and you did it well, and on the other, he’ll never ask you for coffee anymore.  We’re done with scenario number 1, baby, brought to you by the letter D.



Scenario number 2, baby, you’re in your apartment; it’s 11pm, the phone rings.  You answer, it’s a talent manager – I forgot to say, in this scenario, you’re a stand up comedian from France seeking representation in the big Apple. You’ve met this guy several times in comedy clubs. He’s a hot manager, he likes your stuff, he’s on the phone, let’s name him Mason Leinserg, and he say, “Hi, it’s Mason Leinserg, I’m at a Sushi restaurant and I thought, do you like Sushi?”

Baby, what do you do?  Let me assess this case for you as well. First, let’s review the evidence:

Leinserg is alone in a sushi restaurant at 11pm so it’s safe to conclude that he just got stood up. You don’t want to burn what will turn out to be a shitty bridge, but remember he’s on a cell phone.

You’re in luck baby, it’s really easy to play dumb over the telephone, because well, for one, you can pretend like the connection’s bad, so when he says:

“Do you like Sushi?”

You can respond: “Mason, I can’t hear you… What?”

“Do you like Sushi?”

“We mu.. have a bad cone—ion.  I can’t hea… you.” And because Mason’s in a public place, he’s not gonna bend himself in a million different positions to get a better connection.

Let’s explore the results: You didn’t eat sushi with the scumbag and you haven’t damaged that relationship.  Good case study.

The baby seemed to be getting a bit tired but I wanted to keep the momentum I had going, I started with the third case study.


Let’s up the ante a bit, baby. In this scenario, you’re still a very funny stand up comedienne performing all around the City and you’re still looking for representation. You hear that Bou Toba is now representing comedians.  You bump into Bou in a comedy club, he likes your set.  One day Bou calls in a meeting.  You’re thrilled. At the meet, Bou only talks about his brand new divorce and then Bou tells you that he was hoping to date you. Baby, what do you do?  Once again, allow me to analyze this case for you.

First breathe and don’t yell, “Bou, you’re much, much older than me, but more to the point, you’re much, much  shorter than me, so grow the fuck up little old man, because it’s never gonna happen.”

Again, baby, you don’t want to burn that bridge. So this is what you do.

First, you laugh, it gives you time to extinguish the panic mixed with anger that’s going on inside your body.

Second, you wipe your mouth with a napkin because you’re at a Starbucks and you just ate a dry croissant.  Playing dumb works best if you don’t have food on your face.

Third, you laugh again because you still don’t know what the fuck to say. Let’s face it; you went to a date thinking it was a business meeting.  At this point, the rest of what you thought was a business meeting could go two different ways. You could play your cards right and make Bou believe that you will eventually fuck him if he does stuff for you, and later find a way to get out of it. Or you could pretend you have no idea what Bou is talking about.  In which case you say laughingly:

“Bou, that’s so sweet.”  Then, you flatter the Bou; flattery is always a good route. “Congratulations on your divorce, I’ve always wanted to get a divorce myself.  Wow.  That’s why you look so great Bou.”

Then, you try to stir the conversation back to your area of expertise. “So do you think you could get me an audition on Comedy Central?”

Naturally, Bou will continue on his path, (he’s horny and recently divorced remember!)

He’ll say: “Ever since I saw you, I thought I want to take this gal to dinner.”

And because people like the sexist principal have taught you to be polite, you’ll cover your mouth with your hand and laugh quietly while looking at your shoes; but because you’re my daughter and by now a pro at playing dumb you’ll add:

“That is so nice Bou, I’d love to go to dinner, but I don’t eat anymore.”

Now baby, you’re being polite and you’re playing dumb; Bou just doesn’t want to get it. At this point, you’re not fucking Bou and Bou’s not doing anything for you, so limit your loss. Don’t play dumb for an idiot. Just get up and leave. There are plenty of shady managers you could be playing dumb to right now. I’m not teaching you this skill so you can waste it on someone who doesn’t appreciate the art form.”

I think the baby understood exactly what I was talking about; that evening when I asked her to hand over my iPhone she handed me her shoe.


Clara Bijl

About the author: Clara Bijl

Clara Bijl is a stand up comedienne and humorous writer. She was born in Paris, France and raised in the French Alps. She has lived in Germany, South Carolina, New York and Los Angeles. She’s the proud owner of a 2006 gold Nissan Sentra and a green card. When Clara’s not spending time spelling her last name to customer representatives, she performs stand up around the country. You can follow her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/clarabijl or go to her website: www.claracomic.com

Clara has written 2 articles for us.

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