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.