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Perhaps by default, I’ve never been a damsel in distress. When you’re single and older, you don’t have a choice, really. Things don’t get done by themselves.

When my car breaks down, I’ve got to pull over, pop the hood, and figure out where all the steam is coming from. When my heater is on the fritz, I’ve got to double up the socks and build a fire in the fireplace. When I go grocery shopping, I am solely responsible to carry those groceries to my kitchen — even all those years I lived in third- and fourth-floor walk-ups.

Sometimes taking care of business isn’t easy, though. You should see how long it takes me to work up the courage to kill a spider. It’s comical, Seinfeld-worthy material. Or how about the constant war I have with my schizophrenic garage door? The words that come out of my mouth as the door goes haywire are definitely not ladylike. And the faces I make when unclogging my shower drain? You’d think I was handling skunk guts. Calm down, Ruth — it’s your own hair.

I do these things — spackling holes in the wall, getting my car serviced, moving furniture — because there’s no one there to help me do it. Yes, that’s the in-your-face, practical explanation.

But the truth is, I do these things because I can.

It feels good.

Getting my hands dirty, putting forth an effort, trying.

It’s not to say I don’t reach out for help when I need it. I mean, I didn’t move that piano on my own. My dad just fixed my thermostat. My little brother just talked me through how to manually close my aforementioned split-personality, definitely-possessed garage door.

But for the most part, I at least give it a shot.

Wikipedia (the internet’s version of fact) defines a damsel in distress as:

A persecuted maiden; usually a beautiful young woman placed in a dire predicament by a villain or monster and who requires a hero to achieve her rescue.

Perhaps if a true villain or monster were in the mix, I might need a knight in shining armor to whisk me to safety. But I hardly consider a clogged toilet a “monster.”

Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia definition goes on to say:

After rescuing her the hero can usually convince the woman to be his wife.


Let me get this straight.

The damsel in distress is more likely to find love than the gal who can find her own way down from the haunted clock tower? Do men find helpless women more attractive than self-sufficient women?

Perhaps it’s a manly thing. Perhaps men are innate protectors, naturally drawn to women that need protection. If it’s true, I’m screwed. As much as I will gladly give my man sole ownership of bug-killing duties, I don’t need him to do everything. I’m simply not one of those girls who can’t change an air filter or turn a screwdriver.

And I won’t pretend to be.

Ladies, don’t sit around and wait for some prince to come rescue you. That’s not how it works. Life isn’t a fairytale. And the sad truth is you’re missing out on so much satisfaction along the way.

So the next time you’re in New Jersey and it snows nearly a foot and your dad — who normally helps you clear the driveway — is on vacation, don’t sit around and pout about it. Grab his truck keys and figure it out.

Snow Plow

Trust me, you never feel quite as badass as when you pop a pickup truck into four-wheel drive and plow a driveway full of snow.

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As for me, I can honestly say I am not sitting around waiting for some handsome man to rescue me. I am hoping to find someone who’ll walk through life alongside me, who’ll live the adventure in tandem. That, to me, is the fairytale.