The other day I was zipping along I-80 when I realized my gum had lost all its flavor, and I was essentially chewing a piece of rubbery nothingness. It was crucial that I get the rubbery nothingness out of my mouth RIGHT THEN, so I put the window down and prepared to spit the gum out. Then I remembered that I can’t spit, and I’m not kidding. God planted some land mines in my character to keep me humble, and for the rest of the drive home I chewed on rubbery nothingness and made a mental list of stuff I can’t do.
1. Spit Fail That’s right; I cannot spit. There’s an oft-told family story about the time I tried to spit a mouthful of bronchial nastiness out my car window, only to have the product of my effort dribble down my chin and onto the inside of the car door. The result was a carload of passengers who didn’t know whether to laugh or gag as I tried to mop up the mess with my sleeve. When I meet my Maker, I just know the movie of my life will conclude with a blooper reel featuring my greatest spit fails. The Good Lord has a wicked sense of humor.
2. Tennis Fail True story: In college, I took tennis for a PE credit. I’d tried without success to learn tennis in high school, but I was still determined to master the game. One day, all of us were required to prove our proficiency at serving, so we lined up and, one by one, attempted to dazzle Coach Gunderman with a single, graceful, serve deep into the opponent’s court. When my turn came, I tossed the ball into the air and took a swing. I missed the ball completely, lost my grip on the racket—which went clattering across the pavement—then stood looking helpless while the ball came down and hit me on the head. Coach Gunderman fell to the ground in a pants-wetting fit of laughter, and then passed me out of sheer pity. Ironically, I can play badminton. I think it’s the speed of tennis that throws me, whereas in badminton the shuttlecock floats slowly and gracefully, allowing my brain, eyes, and hands to huddle up and form a game plan before being required to respond.
3. Tongue Fail You know that thing some people can do where they roll their tongue into a little tube? Yeah, I can’t do that. My son can do that, and he can also twist his tongue into a cool clover shape. But my son is a freak, so let’s get back to me. It’s not that I haven’t tried— oh, how I’ve tried. According to my family, it’s quite amusing when I stick my tongue out and ask, cluelessly, “Am I doing it? Am I doing it?” Only the threat of being cut from my will prevents them from filming the whole debacle and uploading it to youTube. I do get a little credit for having an especially ugly tongue, but that’s another story.
4. Video Game Fail Speaking of ways my failures bring joy to the whole family, you should witness my attempts to play video games. Zelda, Guitar Hero, Wii. . .give me an electronic controller, and my hands—the same hands which can type easily, craft some pretty respectable artwork, and play several musical instruments—become worthless slabs of meat dangling at the ends of noodly, unwieldy, limblike appendages. “Hey,” say my relatives after a delectable Thanksgiving dinner prepared lovingly by my own two above-mentioned hands, “let’s go to the living room and play some video games!” Which is code for “Let’s give Lisa the handset, then sit back with our desserts and laugh until our drinks shoot out our noses!”
5. Choreography Fail There’s a dancer inside me, I know there is. But she’s being held captive by a troll with four left feet and no sense of rhythm whatsoever. I used to dance, back in high school, before dancing became foreplay committed by grinding suggestively against a partner of either gender. To the collective relief of humankind, I refuse to participate in this kind of modern dance. You’re welcome. What I’m talking about here is actually choreographed dancing—you know, the kind that begins with five, six, seven, eight, and ends up with coordinated, agile people executing a series of planned and well-timed movements. The only exceptions to my inability to learn choreographed dances are the hokie pokie, the chicken dance, and the polka, which all Pennsylvanians instinctively know from birth so as to enjoy a lifetime of fire hall wedding receptions.
Believe me when I tell you there are many, many, other things I cannot do. But my fragile self-esteem can only take so much ridicule, you know? Maybe next time I’ll write about stuff I can do—that shouldn’t take too long!