Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Useless Southern talents

This new year has me thinking a lot about God-given talents, something which I think everyone has. They just aren't always readily apparent.

Take mine for example. I have quite a few that go utterly wasted. Here are some off the top of my head:

Fly swatting – When I was child, instead of air conditioning, we had screens on the windows, which would sometimes get holes, usually exacerbated by my mindlessly picking at them when I should have been washing dishes. We also had screen doors, which I was known to hold open long enough that my parents would yell, “Close the door! You’re letting in the flies!”

All of this to say, we grew up vigilant about killing those pesky creatures. I can recall my dad with a fork in one hand and a fly swatter in the other at the kitchen table. Flies were an inevitable evil of growing up in the South. We always had a swatter within arm’s reach, and I grew pretty darn good with one.

So much so, that, today, when a rare fly strays into our air conditioned home, I rush to the pantry to pull out my decorative swatter and say, “Watch this kids!” right before I smash its brains out. Don’t worry, the foul creatures never know what hits them. They’re gone before they get a chance to glance up and cry, “Help me.”

Arm wrestling – My dad had a rule that no boy could date me unless they beat him at arm wrestling. He chose his means of competition wisely. He was very good at it, and I did not have many brave dates. So, I spent my Friday nights arm wrestling him myself, increasing my strength and picking up a bit of technique in the process. Today, I’m fairly confident in my ability. Perhaps I should offer the same deal to my son’s future girlfriends.

Taxi hailing – I discovered this talent when I visited New York City with my husband this summer. Getting a taxi to stop plagued my husband, the bell hop and even other New Yorkers, but I simply raised my hand, took a step forward and waited less than a second for one to whip over. It even worked at night in Times Square. In the South, this skill goes, mercifully, unused. I say mercifully because if you need a cab down here, you’re more than likely intoxicated and have offended any friends who may have given you a ride home.

Picking up objects with my toes – This is another skill I learned from my dad. I can use my toes like fingers to pick items – like socks - up without bending. I am nowhere near as skilled as my dad who can actually use his toes to put on his socks. And he’s remarkably quick about it, impressing us all with this hidden talent after his recent hip replacement. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll amaze the world yet with this one.

Remembering what I wore almost every day of my life – Yep, if it’s a day I can remember, I can tell you what I had on. The time I got sent to the corner in kindergarten? Remember it. Of course, that’s partially because it was my wardrobe getting me in trouble – at five and 15. In kindergarten, it was for wearing fake glasses, in high school, well, let’s just say my wardrobe was a little too Madonna-ish …

Ultimately, I may not be able to sing like an angel, play an instrument like my friend, Staci, draw and paint like my daughter, decorate a house like Martha Stewart, and sew like my mama, but I can kill a fly almost as good as Sensei in The Karate Kid, and if you don’t believe me, I’ll arm wrestle you, hail a cab, toss you in and later tell you exactly what shoes I had one when I did it. A useless Southern girl can survive ...

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