Mrs. Farley is appalled. “You can’t sew a button on? Your mother never taught you?”
I stifle a laugh at the thought of my mother sewing on a button. “Er… no. She didn’t.”
“In my day,” says Mrs. Farley, shaking her head, “all well-educated girls were taught
how to sew on a button, darn a sock, and turn a collar.”
None of this means anything to me. Turn a collar. It’s gibberish.
“Well, in my day… we weren’t,” I reply politely. “We were taught to study for our
exams and get a career worth having. We were taught to have opinions. We were
taught to use our brains,” I can’t resist adding.
Mrs. Farley doesn’t seem impressed. “It’s a shame,” she says at last, and pats me
I’m trying to keep my temper, but I’ve worked for hours, I’ve had a nonexistent
birthday, I feel bone-tired and hungry, Ketterman is living two floors above me—and
now this old woman’s telling me to sew on a button?
“It’s not a shame,” I say tightly.
“All right, dear,” says Mrs. Farley in pacifying tones, and heads across the hallway to
Somehow this goads me even more.
“How is it a shame?” I demand, stepping out of my doorway. “How? OK, maybe I
can’t sew on a button. But I can restructure a corporate finance agreement and save
my client thirty million pounds. That’s what I can do.” Mrs. Farley regards me from her doorway. “It’s a shame,” she repeats, as though she
didn’t even hear me. “Good night, dear.” She closes the door and I emit a squeal of
“Did you never hear of feminism?” I cry at her door.
But there’s no answer.