Had to learn to drive a 3-speed back in 1969 (I was 23) when we bought a new '69 Shelby Mustang GT500; it was a great experience and a blast blowin' the doors off of 'vettes at the line back then (being a girl). However, back in 2001 bought a new 6-speed Porsche 911, and it's the best car I've ever had the pleasure to stick shift, smooth as ever.
Deanna, your bar comment is one of the reasons I made sure my daughter learned how to drive manual... I wanted to make sure, if she ever was in a situation she'd have to drive for someone else, that she could handle it. It was also our only choice because our family cars are all manual transmission. Haha. In our household, we actually call automatics "autotragic."
Incidentally, I'm traveling cross-country in a rental right now -a Nissan Pathfinder- and its autotragicness is, well, tragic.
I love the control one gets with a manual transmission, particularly in bad weather. Thanks to my parents for driving but manual transmissions for most of their driving lives.
Even though my dad taught me and I've since had a refresher, I wouldn't own a manual. I can drive for a friend in theirs if I have to, but I've never had one of my own. I worry about not being able to drive if my shoulder or ankle was to be injured (with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, its a valid concern). Also, anyone can borrow my automatic or drive me home from the bar.