Mom sent me to the store years back with only one item on the list.


That seemed like a simple request. Anyone can pick up butter, right? That’s what I thought too. But by the time I made my way into that small town grocery store and over to the refrigerated section, I had become perplexed.

“What kind of butter,” I wondered to myself. “There is that stuff in a tube that we use for bread, stuff in sticks that mom uses for baking, salted, un-salted and margarine.” 

I had no idea which one to pick up.

I didn’t have confidence to ask a clerk, so I simply choose the first box I saw. I went with my gut instinct. That’s what we’re always taught, right?


I got home and showed my purchases to Mom and the rest of the family. 

They laughed.

I had actually picked up margarine, not butter. Turns out – butter is just exactly that. 


I didn’t realize it was that obvious. I saw the boxes that had the word butter written on them – but I had assumed that was a generic brand – a cheap version of the real stuff. You all know what happens when you assume, don’t you? While they laughed, I cringed with embarrassment. To this very day, anytime I place a box of butter in my grocery cart, I think of my naive moment in history.

I turn 32 years old this week. This isn’t a pathetic ploy to get happy birthday wishes – although if you’d like to send me cheer – you know I’ll take it. Instead, this birthday thing makes me ponder a bit. What should I know at this age? I’m not talking about the stuff found in text books. I will never know the square root of 68 divided by 920 and then multiplied by 7,790; nor do I want to. I’m talking about the common sense stuff. Like the difference between butter and margarine.

In honor of my greatest day in history – I decided to compile a list of 32 things one should know by their 32nd birthday. 

  1. How to hem a pair of pants. This eliminates the need to use safety pins – which I did only once on a fantastic pair of tight red pants during a trip to New York City. Looking back, I doubt they looked that fantastic. A quick Google search shows 126,884 people have watched a YouTube video titled, “How to hem a pair of pants.”  My mom would be mortified.
  2. How to change a tire. Even though I could do it, I will always call my husband, my dad or a brother-in-law before attempting myself.
  3. How to boil water. This seems obvious. Trust me. It’s not.
  4. How to make a really good cheeseburger. This is a tough one. I’m still trying to master it.
  5. How to balance and organize your finances. 
  6. The difference between they’re, there and their. 
  7. You are never too good for a job. I have to remind myself this one. 
  8. How to be honest to your boss, your co-workers, and yourself. 
  9. There is no such thing as instant success.
  10. You should always write a thank you note.
  11. How to love and be loved in return. Yes, this is a line from a movie. But it’s really true. 
  12. The words to at least one Bon Jovi song. OK – this isn’t crucial, but I think it’s definitely necessary if you want to make something of yourself.
  13. How to have a sense of humor. I was only kidding in number 12. You can still be someone if you don’t know all the words to Bed of Roses. But I might like you a little bit more if you do.
  14. How to drive in 6 lane traffic. This makes me want to cry thinking about it. I hate traffic.
  15. Age is just a number. We are never too old or too young to dream big!
  16. It’s OK to make a fool of yourself every once in a while.
  17. How to make a really good glass of ice tea.
  18. Your alcohol limit.
  19. Life doesn’t wait for you. Loved ones die, babies grow up. This one is hard for me. 
  20. How to change your oil. Um, I don’t know how to do this one. I know. I should.
  21. The difference between good lettuce and crappy lettuce. 
  22. How to travel alone. Dang it! Failed again. 
  23. How to talk to strangers.
  24. How to surround yourself with positive people. The negative ones can and will bring you down.
  25. How to make new friends and let go of old ones. 
  26. How to log on to Facebook.
  27. How to ask for help.
  28. How to have inside thoughts.
  29. How to say goodbye to old dreams.
  30. How to defend yourself.
  31. How to say you’re wrong.
  32. Keep asking questions.

Even if they seem incredibly silly. It will save you from embarrassment with that grocery list or something much bigger.


Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.