I’ll admit it, OK? There are some things I don’t really excell at

OK, I cannot fold a fitted sheet so that it looks moderately presentable, or even usable by polite company to save my life. I don’t believe men are gender equipped to do that task, much like my wife is challenged by parallel parking. Consequently, I agree to do the parking if she’ll fold the sheet to make it look like something I’d welcome sleeping atop of.

No, really, I’m not just shirking here. I think my dog; even without having opposable thumbs could do a neater job than I do. No matter how hard I try, the end result always sucks and leaves me with a strong impulse to scrunch it into a ball and shove it way in the back of the linen cupboard.

There are things in this life that I do well, I’m proud to say, both as a human being and as a male human being. There are other things I don’t do well – OK, I do extremely badly — and if I pretend I do them well there will be somebody out there who will provide factual examples to illustrate what a stinking liar I am. So, yes, there is stuff at which I claim no expertise.

I cannot pretend to be good at all things or I wouldn’t be human. Of those things I’m not good at my failures stem from two sources only: 1) ineptitude and 2) sheer laziness. Of the basic causes, number 2 is by far the greatest.

So, aside from sheet folding, I do not do well with the following:

–         Wrapping gifts: My presents always look like a double carpal amputee wrapped them. They’re messy, the two ends of the wrapping paper don’t always meet, and I am a subscriber to the notion that if a little scotch tape is good, a lot is even better. Thank God for those little gift bags that came into vogue a few years ago.

–         Chopping Onions: When Wendy chops an onion her hands and the blade move so rapidly you can scarcely see them, and the end result is perfect slices or chunks. Were I to chop at her pace the chopping board would be rendered incarnadine due to the assorted involuntarily severed digits mixed in with the onions.

–         Catching a ball: The noble game of baseball is a favorite of mine, has always been. But, if I were told that the only way I could avoid execution was to catch a ball, I’d say get the noose ready, boys, because I’m a goner. Just can’t do it. Toss me something softer like a marshmallow, and I’m still hopeless. Hand-eye coordination? I don’t know. When I was a kid I could bat like a hot damn, so that isn’t necessarily a factor. I also play a good game of darts, and pool and billiards aren’t total embarrassments for me, so I don’t get my problem. By my age I also don’t really care.

–         Being passive: I’m hopeless at a concert, an opera, a symphony, or a church service. I squirm, change positions 3,000 times an hour, unbelievingly check my watch every 2 minutes, and inwardly whine: “When is this going to be ooooooverrrrrrrrrrrrr?” It doesn’t matter how good the offering is. If it were Eddie Van Halen and Eric Clapton in a session of dueling guitars I’d still end up getting restless. I think it’s all to do with not being in control and not being able to establish my own timeline for an event. “The Second Coming, cool. So, when is it over, because NCIS is on tonight at 8?” Essentially I am an active person, lazy as I might be. I like to be doing something multi-tasky like reading or doing a crossword or neck, or something. Oh, and in a captive, spectator-type situation I always, always, always have to go to the bathroom.

–         Listening: If there is any single thing that women utterly revile about men (along with the other things) it’s that men do not listen to what they say. I have been known to be guilty of this. Again it’s back to that passivity thing. You see, I zone out, depending on whom I’m talking to and think lovely thoughts about little fawns in forest meadows or “I wonder what you look like with your clothes off,” when some striking young enviro scientist is explaining to me her findings on wayward sewage sludge for the sake of a newspaper article I am writing, since she is also sporting one of those cleavage-revealing tops like striking young enviro scientists wear on TV shows. Oh, and she’s probably in high-heels, too. Truly, I have been known to completely blank out mid-interview in other cases, which kind of mortifying. “Sorry, Your Majesty, but I wasn’t a bit interested in what you were telling me about your 60 years on the throne, so I nodded off. Could you repeat it please?” Of course, that would never work, so you find ways of covering your ass by saying such things as: “Could you repeat that – maybe in Finnish? I’m working on being multi-lingual.”

–         Ironing: Whenever I am called upon to iron an item of clothing due to the female in my life having been called away, having broken both her hands, etc. the end result looks like – well, like something ‘I’ have ironed. On the other hand, I do have slightly less trouble with ‘irony’.

–         Administering Discipline: I make for a lousy parent in the old ‘spare the rod’  regard, which is why it is probably good that I’m not a parent in any regard whatsoever, because essentially I believe in the virtue of judiciously administered discipline. I just can’t do it. I end up sparing that old rod all the time. I think it was because I was raised in such a strict home that I became a softie. During the brief window of time in which I was a stepdad my wife would regularly indict me (well, she regularly indicted me for nearly everything that was bad in her world) for being too soft with her daughter. And yeah, I was. Big beautiful brown eyes tearing up would turn away my wrath in a trice. “It’s OK, hon’. Just make sure you don’t ever rob a 7-11 again.”

None of the foregoing is to suggest I’m a hopeless shmuck, just that I have some deficits. There are things I am good at, too. I just don’t go around blowing my own horn about them.



15 responses to “I’ll admit it, OK? There are some things I don’t really excell at

  1. I don’t think there’s a male in the world who can decently fold fitted sheets. Maybe because you pretend to be useless at it and we take pity? Actually guys suck at folding pretty much anything – probably because they don’t give a shit. Hell, I don’t give a shit, but it’s so deeply ingrained that I’d feel guilty if I didn’t do it right. Which says a lot about just how pathetic I am.

  2. Yes, my DH has onion issues, too. Even though he cooks. -And- cooks with onions. He picks the most complicated way to chop them and then makes a fine mince that usually burns in the pan before he can add any other food to it. When I’m cooking and he offers to chop onion, I specify the method -and- size… and soon I’ll give him lessons in basic knife skills…

    • Actually my primary issue with onions is that I’m always afraid I’ll cut off a finger or my thumb, especially with that old knife flying the way it does when Wendy handles them — sort of like the guys that do the Kobe beef at Japanese restaurants.

  3. I’m with you on folding sheets – I can never quite get it right.

    I can wrap presents and, even if I say so myself, am expert at catching balls (cricket etc); and I LIKE catching balls just for the sake of it.

    Absolutely with you on the not being passive. At concerts or the cinema, I wriggle and squirm and inevitably want to go to the loo because I’m trapped; as soon as I’m out of there the urge goes.

    “Essentially I am an active person, lazy as I might be.” Yep, that’s me too.

    I’ve always spared the rod, perhaps because I went to schools where teachers beat the boys with gusto and often. I sometimes shout at my kids (then feel awful two minutes later) but I’ve never slapped or hit them (old joke: unless in self defence).

    I read your blogpost about being a father and I count my blessings each day; I love my children and, which is not always the case, I actually like them. My son is 18 on Sunday and is very much his own man; he’s at a party tonight. And that’s as it should be.

    • Well, I do envy you your family, as I indicated my feelings in that earlier blog. But, we certainly seem to be of accord on the other issues. It is in the sitting passively and often listening to drivel for hours on end that makes me glad I’m not a royal. No wonder Philip gets angry sometimes.

  4. Can’t fold fitted sheets so don’t buy any.

    Ironing…least said the better….

    Discipline? ‘Bad dog! Stop chewing Mr. Fly’s inhaler it will upset you…..’


    Wrapping presents and catching a ball…both O.K.

  5. Of course, claiming you are totally inept at folding fitted sheets is one way to ensure you will rarely be asked to do it. Clever little trick!

  6. Interestng. I parallel park better than my husband and he irons WAY better than I do. I actually add wrinkles. I do not do any fast chopping. I chop very slowly and precisely as if one wrong move would cause the solar system to collapse. I suck in the captive, spectator-type situation, whereas my husband is fine. I can catch anything. (The result of having a mean brother who liked to suddenly throw things at my head.) My husband can’t catch or throw a Frisbee to save his life. I guess the only one where my husband and I are typical is gift wrapping.

  7. I think that ‘ball’ is an excellent shape for a fitted sheet, actually. All ours are balls. Provided that they can retain their shape while they’re flying into the cupboard, that is. I’m too short to put them in and I can’t be arsed to find something to stand on, so I just…uhm…throw them until they get stuck in there and then I close the door really quickly. Yeah, I’m the perfect housewife, me.

  8. Works for me, too, Choochoo, but unfortunately the memsahib doesn’t see it that way. Which is fine by me since she can then fold the sheets. I like your idea of projectile sheets.

  9. I detest folding fitted sheets, and generally leave them to my hubby or like you, ball them up and throw them in the linen closet. Task me with parallel parking anyday – I actually LOVE parallel parking. I pride myself on being the best parallel parker I know – but I was taught by a man – my good ole dad…

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