2009.04.15 Skills for adulthood

Written by David Green.

Colleen Leddy is taking a break this week. Midnight Musings is replaced by the musings of her son-in-law.

By TAYLOR BALLINGER

What are the qualifications for being an adult male?

I just wrapped my wife’s birthday present— I don’t know why I didn’t just bag the gift like I usually do—and I came to a painful realization. I’m a grown man and I don’t know how to wrap a gift. 

This probably comes as no surprise to many of you. I am certainly not the only man who tries unsuccessfully to wrap his wife’s birthday or Christmas present. It doesn’t look like it would be very difficult to wrap a present. My mother is quite proficient at the skill. The problem is, I took the Patrick Ballinger (my father) macho-man route as a child, meaning I treated gift-wrapping as something girls did. So now, poor Rosie’s gift looks like it was wrapped by a drunken cat with sharp claws.

This got me thinking; what are some other skills that I lack? Too numerous to count, undoubtedly, but here’s a small list of things I should probably know how to do:

1. Change my car’s motor oil. Everyone says it’s easy. Anyone can do it, heck, even a kid can do it. Well I can’t. I know three things about my car: you turn the key to the right to start it, you push the accelerator to make it go, and you push the brake to make it stop.

2. Peel an orange. Seriously, how hard could it be? I think I get in too big a hurry and I dig too deep into the peel, which puts a gash into the edible part of the orange, and inevitably squirts orange juice all over my shirt and pants. This is embarrassing when you’re a school teacher, because the kids ask things like, “Mr. B, did you pee your pants?”

3. Watch a basketball game without yelling at the TV. I get it, they can’t hear me. My mother told me this growing up, my wife told me this yesterday, and my logic told me this after I realized the TV just projected an image onto the screen. But where I’m from, basketball is a way of life. My grandmother was such a rabid University of Kentucky fan that I was not allowed to speak to her during games. I cried myself to sleep in 1993 when Christian Laettner and Duke sent Kentucky home in the tournament on an improbable and unfair last-second shot. This one’s genetic, no help for me there.

4. Talk quietly on the phone. This one comes from my grandfather. Apparently he thinks that if we’re talking on the phone and we’re 700 miles apart he needs to yell like AT&T will only guarantee 650 miles of coverage. My dad’s the same way. I tell Rosie to switch the phone from ear to ear, because if she balances out the impending deafness it won’t seem so bad.

5. Hit a golf ball straight, consistently. It seems so simple. You take a mallet-like object and hit a stationary ball. For some reason, though, my shot always slices to the right. Well, not always. Sometimes I adjust my stance, thinking the ball will slice to the right. That’s when I usually hit it straight, negating my adjustment.

6. Roll a sleeping bag. For some reason, when I attempt to roll my sleeping bag it ends up looking like a big, blue, nylon crumpled up ball of paper. It has a picture on the tag that shows me how to do it correctly, but I’m not fluent in picture directions.

7. Walk in a straight line. My other tall friends say they have the same problem. We must just not see the people around us, so we treat the whole sidewalk as our personal domain. I’ve been known to walk completely off sidewalks, tripping and falling and twisting my ankle. I’ve also accidentally pushed Rosie into traffic. If you ever see me looking suspicious walking behind a large group of people, don’t be alarmed. I’m not stalking them; they’re simply walking ahead of me to avoid getting bulldozed.

I guess I’ve made it by so far without the preceding skills, and there are times when I really wish that I could fix these shortcomings (if you consider not being able to peel an orange a shortcoming). But, then again, if I learn to wrap a gift like a pro I’ll never be able to put on the pouty face and say, “But Rosie, you’re SO much better at this than me!”

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Front.batter

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