Living

Some people can ... I’m not one of them

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I have a confession, which should not be surprising because anyone who knows me even moderately well could tell you that I have much to confess, much of it abject foolishness, some of it down right stupid.

This confession is, I think, neither of those. This is merely a confession about ineptitude of an embarrassing magnitude that I was recently forced to recall.

A few weeks ago, I was doing healthy gym stuff at Hampshire Hills and one of the healthy gym things I was doing took me into the hallway outside the fitness center where Wendy Mace, one of the trainers, was working with a woman of … well, it would be unfair of me to say of indeterminate age because I’m sure most people would have looked at this woman and come up with a reasonable guess.

But I stink at that. To me, this woman was anywhere between 25 and 55. Honestly, that’s the best I can do.

She certainly wasn’t elderly (and that I should know, me being so) and she wasn’t a teenager, so … oh, it doesn’t matter.

The point is this: She was jumping rope. More than that, she was jumping rope effortlessly and much more than competently. She was really, really good.

I said, as I watched her, “Wow. That is impressive.”

And Wendy laughed and said something, and here I paraphrase because I can’t remember exactly, about how people who watched her were really jealous.

That described me exactly.

You see, friends, when I was a kid, I was grievously incompetent at things most kids seemed to be able to do effortlessly, to wit:

Jump rope.

Blow bubbles with Bazooka bubble gum.

Sustain the movement of a Hula-Hoop.

Get a yo-yo to do … ANYTHING.

Get a hit in Little League.

All this came racing back to me as I watched this woman jump rope and jump rope and jump rope and … she looked like she could do it for hours.

Why is it that some people just … well, just CAN.

When my daughter was in Pine Hill in Wilton, she couldn’t understand why her friend Lucia had such an easy time learning spelling words. Sara would have to go over them many times but Lucia would barely look at them and, bingo, just seemed to know how to spell them.

In that, Sara is like me: I have a terrible time spelling. When I was in elementary school, we had spelling tests designed to help us get to different spelling “levels,” Level 1 being the easiest and up to Level 10. I got to Level 3 and my teacher told me it was only “by the skin of your teeth.”

NON SEQUITUR: Years later, in high school, I was in a play called “The Skin of Our Teeth.” Thornton Wilder, I think, but maybe not. Anyway, I didn’t like it.

But …

This is me with the
Hula-Hoop:

Three twists and, boom, it falls to the ground.

And the jump rope:

Behind the back, over the head and, CAUGHT IN MY SNEAKER.

I won’t even try to describe the futility of bubble blowing or yo-yoing. And Little League? Futility plus. I could hit in pickup games and stickball but organized Little League? I was worse than Tommie Agee when he went to the Mets in ’69 and if you remember the Mets in ’69, you’ll remember that Tommie started out zero for 38. I was worse.

So watching this woman jump rope at Hampshire Hills brought it all back and as I watched her, I kept thinking that there has to be a trick. And there is. The trick is this:

Some people just CAN.

And it doesn’t matter what it is, they just can. They can’t do everything, at least I hope they can’t because that would make my futility even worse.

I hope, for instance, that the woman who can brilliantly jump rope can’t spell well. I hope that somebody who can make a yo-yo sleep can’t jump rope or spell.

And speaking of sleeping yo-yos, in junior high we had this kid who hated yo-yos and especially people who yo-yoed, so he’d wander up to some yo-yoing kid and he’d say:

“Can you make it sleep?”

Well, challenge a yo-yo kid and you get … I don’t know what you get, except more boring yo-yoing.

Anyway, the yo-yo kid could never resist: He’d make it sleep.

And this other kid would ship out a scissors and cut the yo-yo string and the yo-yo would go bouncing down the hall and the scissor kid would laugh and walk away while the yo-yo kid went running after his rolling yo-yo so he could … what? Repair it?

I thought about scissor kid when I watched that woman jump rope like champ and wondered if there were any way to race over and cut the rope. But I didn’t have any scissors and, anyway, I figure anyone who can jump rope that well would probably be able to wrap it around my neck before I could scissor it.

That’s what usually happens when one attempts to deal with people who just CAN and you CAN’T.

NOTICE: We use the Facebook commenting system. For more information, read our Comment Policy