Adult education is getting more adult all the time.
They are lecturing about things in night school that were only whispered about during the day.
People used to take classes in pottery and picture framing to help them express their feelings. Now the potters and the framers are a classroom away from people who find fulfillment in exploring their dreams or massaging their partners.
At the Open University of Washington you can specialize in foot massage, back massage or couples' massage. At Northern Virginia community College you can take transactional analysis, yoga, dream analysis, ESP, meditation -- or the ultimate in self-exploration, entitled, "You, yourself, unlimited."
For those less interested in themselves than in their bank balances, educators now offer career advancement courses. These include the pragmatic: cross-connection device training for plumbers. And the promissory: learn to negotiate, learn to network, learn to promote yourself and your ideas.
Montgomery College advertises that approximately 500 people each year learn how to start their own businesses. Area courses leave no career uncovered. Be a craft seller, be a caterer, be a calligrapher, be a consultant, be a clown. You name it--someone around here teaches it!
You can also learn to marry money. A course at the Open University promises to teach the who, what, where and how of it. Those who ask "why" need not apply.
The catalogue reads: "We will examine the pluses and minuses of old money, new money and new-new money. Learn about the millionaires' club of Newport Beach, pre-nuptial agreements, 'ULTRA' (the Texas magazine that is distributed to people with incomes of $150,000 or more), the names of 10 Washington, D.C., millionaires and much more. The teacher is not poor."
Marrying for profit rather than for fun doesn't seem like such a bad idea when you look at the number of courses being offered on coping with separation and divorce. Every school seems to be filling classrooms with people who want to learn to live alone.
However, once you graduate from the courses on breaking up, you are ready for the courses on breaking into the social scene again, and the educators don't fool around. They break the pursuit process into essential educational elements: how to find out where the men and women are, what to do when you find them and how to proceed like a pro in your new relationships.
In New York, they even teach a course on "Lover Shopping in Bloomingdale's" -- or how to find a spouse among the silks and satins.
Adult education catalogues exude unbridled optimism. There is faith in the perfectibility of people on virtually every page. You get the feeling you could conquer any world as long as you get to class on time.
It doesn't hurt to have a course on the pursuit of happiness taught by an instructor named Elsie Bliss.