Posted in Commentary, Growing up/old

You can’t be good at everything

It happened again tonight. There I sat at the table, picking at the remainder of my salad, the last feeble fronds weighed down to wilted from a surfeit of Dorothy Lynch and blue cheese dressings. My salad was overdressed like a debutante in a ball gown cleaning the garage. My salad was overdressed like white-tie and tails on a fishing trip. My salad was overdressed like chemise and bloomers in the shower. My salad was overdressed like parka and hip-waders at a nudist colony.

Let’s just assume that I could come up with overwrought similes for too much dressing until the cows come home, and leave it there.

The thing is, I’m aware of this problem. I’ve been aware of it ever since I saw this little ditty a gazillion times on Saturday morning television when I was a kid. And every time I sit down to a salad, I am very consciously, and conscientiously, putting what I think is a reasonable amount of salad dressing on my greens, only to get to the bottom to find a third of my salad drowning and totally unappetizing, because, you know, salad is supposed to crunch. If it’s no longer crunching, ’tis no longer salad. It’s soup.

This is not my salad...but it could be.
This is not my salad…but it could be.

I am on the back nine of being 41 years old, and despite all efforts (and I honestly have made them), I cannot put an appropriate amount of salad dressing on a salad. Among the problems available in life, this is without a doubt one of the most ridiculous and stupid problems a person could have. It’s embarrassing in its stupidity, if anyone but I noticed, not to mention a waste of good salad dressing; the lifetime total of excess salad dressing, and the corpses of drowned spinach leaves, I’ve rinsed out of bowls has to be staggering.

While I appreciate autonomy as a general principle, I actually don’t mind when restaurant salads come pre-dressed to the table, because I know this is an area of weakness for me, and I figure restaurant folks are better qualified than I am, at least in this.

Another thing I can’t seem to do is fill a glass with an appropriate amount of liquid. I blame it on my lack of depth perception, and an innate drive for efficiency that somehow always thinks that filling one glass really, really full is better than taking the time to fill that same glass twice, but at least once a week, I overfill a glass to the point where it’s now spilling on the counter. And in the moment, I am not considering that there’s not a lot of efficiency involved in half the contents being destined for paper toweldom and subsequently the trash, or the time it takes to clean up my mess; I’m too busy trying to keep the beverage from spreading and ending up on the floor, because dammit, I’m too old and decrepit to be bending over to clean it up from there.

There are rare–very rare–occasions when I can keep the liquid a respectable half-inch from the top of the container, (usually when I’m pouring it for Scott, who in nearly 23 years has never been able to understand why his normally smart, capable wife is unable to not hand him a drink the contents of which are still only in the glass by virtue of surface tension, and has given me no end of not entirely undeserved shit about it), and these occasions are marked with a full-voiced announcement on my part, without fail, because they are rare and beautiful, like Brigadoon.

I hadn’t really thought about these things together until writing this, but it seems I have a particular problem with liquid volume, although it’s true that among my talents, quality spatial reasoning is not numbered. As was evidenced by the 26′ truck I rented to move us from Nebraska to Minnesota, only to have Scott take one look at it and say, “There’s no way that’s big enough.” He was right, and we had to come back the next weekend with my parents’ big station wagon to get the rest, and still had to leave a bunch of our stuff at Goodwill before we left town. The truth is, I process my world in words, and all things geometric are at best peripheral to me, and at worst, mildly catastrophic, in that my lack of geometric awareness leads to occasional messes, minor accidents, and lettuce soup.

What about y’all? Is there something fairly basic and seemingly simple in your life that you think you should’ve mastered long ago and just can’t? Or am I the only one out here who shouldn’t pour anything without a spotter?



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

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