After I wrote a column last week detailing my secret dream of becoming a symphony conductor, my friend Waylon Fortenberry of Chesterfield County called me.
“Are you nuts?” he wailed. “You can’t read a lick of music, and your attempts at singing sound like a wounded screech owl. In fact, you are the most musically incompetent person I know.”
He might be right.
But I’m here today to strike a blow for incompetence and all who would give it a bad name. As someone who has plenty of experience at being incompetent at a wide range of activities -- not only music -- I’ve yet to have someone look me in the eye and say, “Why are cow pies flat?”
Oops! What I meant to say was I’ve had plenty of people look me in the eyes and say “Glenn, you are a bumbling idiot. And you’re ugly, too.”
What kind of world would this be if there were no incompetent people around? How low would our self-esteem be if we looked around us day after day, only to find ourselves surrounded by the Warren Buffetts and LeBron Jameses and Helen Mirrens of the world?
My point is simple: for the sake of our egos, we need the Thomas Ravenels and the Roy Riegels of this universe.
(Ha! Got you! Don’t know old Roy, do you? Here’s a hint: he once ran the wrong way in the Rose Bowl, leading his team to defeat, after which his teammates probably took him to the locker room and pummeled him into unconsciousness.)
We need incompetent presidential candidates, too, which both the Republicans and Democrats are trying their best to provide.
But back to the subject: I have a long and proud history of incompetence in a broad array of fields. To wit…
Being a soldier: I was the only person in the history of the U. S. Army to have the mandatory re-enlistment speech given to them like this: “Private Tucker, you don’t want to re-up, do you?”
Dancing: my coordination is so bad that every podiatrist in South Carolina has treated at least one woman who dared trip the light fantastic with me.
Appreciating ballet: I am hopelessly incompetent at sitting for three hours and watching men in bulging tights jump around.
Gardening: Plant it, ask me to water it, and it will die.
Taking exams in college: usually couldn’t even find the right classroom.
Cooking: if it can be grilled, I’m in safe territory. If not, watch out for an e coli outbreak.
Talking on the phone: any phone conversation that lasts more than eight seconds is wasted time indeed.
Mowing grass: can’t get the rows even close to straight.
Anything relating to science: nothing else need be said.
Golf: there’s a reason the grounds crew at Camden Country Club has asked me to take up another sport.
Wheel of Fortune: can’t solve the puzzle because I’m too busy ogling Vanna.
“And,” Waylon added, “you’re pretty sorry at writing columns, too.”
So there you have it: the confessions of a serial incompetent. But according to an Ivy League survey done not so long ago, most people who are incompetent have no idea of their own ineptitude.
I do. So I guess that when it comes to not knowing how to do things, I’m ahead of the game.
Pass the cow pies, please.