Afternoon Inquisition

Afternoon Inquisition, 1.16

It’s Friday! Everyone dance! No really. Dance. I’m in a good mood and so everyone should dance with me.

Ok, fine.  So you won’t dance.  Maybe because you can’t dance? 

What talent would you love to have, but you just don’t?


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Excuse me if I don’t dance, but it’s 34ºC (93ºF) down here. I appreciate my water content.

    So, if you don’t mind, I’d rather sing. Or play an instrument.

    Now, if only I had some of those talents.

  2. I’d like to be able to sing halfway decently. Problem is, I have a good ear and therefore know just how bad my voice is.

  3. I have always wanted to learn to swing dance. Not only that, I wish I had any talent at all. I am basically talentless. No musical or artistic or vocal talent. Only sarcasm.
    Sometimes I wish I could be nicer.

  4. After I have passed my CPA exam and finished my MBA I have a list of things I want to learn how to do:
    1. Sail
    2. Draw
    3. Paint
    4. Sculpt
    5. Carve
    6. Play the piano
    7. Write
    But the first thing I want to do is run a marathon.

  5. Do the maths. I really (really REALLY) wanted to be a geologist but stats was a bear and calculus a brick wall. I blame the American school system for my failure in this regard.

  6. Wow, COTW indeed for soresport!

    Biggest thing for me: Wish I had musical talent. Any. Music is incredibly important to me, and I’d love to be able to play more than my iPod.

  7. @Gabrielbrawley: When I was younger, I would have loved to have the perfect cocktail party personality. Now, I am comfortable with the way I am and happy to sometimes be a wallflower.

    Now, I want something I couldn’t have given a damn about when I was younger. I wish I had some natural athletic ability. I’ve been playing tennis for about five years now (Started at an age greater then when Pete Sampras retired!) and I am pretty much just at a point where I am not embarrassed to be on the court. I envy the many people who have blown right past me in shorter periods of time.

  8. I’m skeptical about the word talent and what it often seems to imply. Do we think talent is genetically programmed or is a talent developed through hard work, discipline and practice. I suspect come genetics are involved but mostly it seems hard work and discipline lead to being called talented.

  9. I’d love to be able to draw. I tried for years and years to learn and it turns out I just can’t quite figure it out. I love comics and would love to put one out myself, but there’s not much a writer without an artist can do, ya know?

  10. I guess I’m what you’d call the proverbial Jack of all trades. I’m the sort of person who goes out and tries to learn a little bit of everything, so there are very few talents left that I wish I had.

    I guess if I could choose one thing that I’ve always had trouble with, it would be the ability to remember peoples’ names better. I’m horrible about this. If I don’t see a person and use their name regularly, it just falls out of my head.

  11. @James Fox:

    Good point, and I thought about mentioning something along those lines. The general definition of talent is being naturally good at something without any special training. In that case, there are many talents I’d love to have. Everything I know how to do has taken a lot of study and/or practice :o)

  12. Ha! You’ll all hate me but all the stuff I wish I could do well, I can do well. I was even offered a job playing Guitar Hero.

    With one exception. In my mind I’m a genius pianist. In real life I can’t play piano at all. The imaginary skill doesn’t pull at me enough to go and learn though, plus I want to be savant-level, not chopsticks level.

  13. I remember a quote from “Real Genius”, an awesome 80’s movie.

    Girl (to Chris): Can you nail a three inch spike through a board with your penis? Chris: No, not right now. Girl: A girl’s got to have her standards.

    That is a talent I very much would like, but reticently must admit to not having.

  14. 1. Draw. This is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do, but have zero talent for.
    2. Sing. This is because my kids are embarrassed when I sing and I love to sing.

  15. I would love to be able to debate effectively. I seem to lack the qualities. I think I am too retiring to be effective.

  16. I actually can dance. I have a Fifth Place ribbon in the bronze-level mambo to prove it (and a bunch more semi-final spots, but they don’t give ribbons for those), too. But when you’re talking about “dancing” as people usually seem to mean, i.e. just making shit up as you go along while obnoxiously loud music with a loud beat but no particular rhythmic structure plays in the background, then no. I don’t dance.


    I’m ok at it as is, but I figure anybody who likes girls should be better at cunnilingus. So that, I guess.

  17. Oh, I’ve also always wanted to be able to compose music. I used to play jazz, but improvising a bass line isn’t quite the same thing as writing a piece of music.

  18. I would give almost anything to be able to draw/paint well. I would, without a single thought, trade my (excellent) photography abilities for the ability to draw equally as well.

  19. @Joshua:

    The word “cunnilingus” always makes me think of some michievous Irish pixie or leprechaun…

    “Eat your veggies and say your prayers now, children, or Cunnilingus will come and take you away to his subterranean lair in the south!”

  20. As far as talent goes, I’d love to be better at lots of things, but the most important thing would be dedication.

    I wish I had the patience and the stick-to-it-iveness to put in the time, pay my dues, and get good at the things that I could do. Writing, filmmaking, music, even hobbies… I’ve always been too lazy and apathetic to do well, and I give up FAST.

    So yeah, the ability to force myself through things would be a good talent to have.

  21. Follow through, or at least that’s the ability my wife wished I had as I have about a dozen projects that are in various stages of completeness. Also I always wished I could play the mandolin.

  22. @Elyse: To be good at cunnilingus requires a lot of cooperation from your partner. She needs to be vocal about what she likes and dislikes. If she doesn’t tell you where, how fast and what amount of pressure you end up with two unhappy people. She because she doesn’t get what she wants and he becuase an hour later and all he has too show for it is a jaw and tounge so cramped that he can’t talk.

  23. Social Interaction. Over-the-internet interaction I’m fine with, but fact-to-face stuff, forget it.

    And as a sub-catagory, “Body Language” which is something I’ve never been able to decypher.

  24. I don’t know if “having a clue” would quite count, but I wish I had one. On a few occasions that just resulted in two frustrated people, with me being the late comer.

    But mostly I wish I could override irrational fears and desires with reason and will quickly and easily. It takes a lot of work to get the bugs and the boogie men worked out of my head some days.

  25. Singing, and playing a musical instrument. I can’t keep time or hold a note. But one day I will learn to play an accordian, and woe to the world.

  26. I always wanted to be able to play an instrument. I have tried the guitar, keyboards, and even gave drums a shot. All I accomplished was scaring the crap out of every dog and cat in the neighborhood.
    For those of you who said you wished you could draw, I guarantee I could teach you to draw, at least good enough to get your ideas across, in one afternoon. There are all kinds of nifty tricks you can use to make drawing easier. If you want to be a Rembrandt, then natural talent will have to play a part because that kind of skill and vision is rare. I, of couse, was born with that kind of talent. (snif)(said while arrogantly polishing nails on shirt).
    Seriously, I do believe in genetic talent. I have a friend who can play and instrument with strings. It’s amazing, and he started playing like that when he was a little kid. I started drawing when I was like 5. And even then, could draw better than most adults. I’m not bragging, I am just pointing out that some kids can jus do incredible things at a really young age. (this is not the same as a savant that is disconnected from reality in all other ways). My sister has an amazing talent for organizing things. She’s always been that way. She is orderly about everything. I really admire that cause frankly, I’m a mess! hehehe

  27. The ability to write good stuff, the ability to write a dumb SAT essay under 25 minutes, and the ability to be a really good musician, mainly with piano.

  28. The ability to pick up languages would be nice.

    Alternatively I’d like to be able to empathise with people, which is something I can barely do.

  29. @russellsugden: I’ll second this one.

    I can draw, paint, sculpt, sing relatively well, if I bother too I have sticktoitiveness, but social interactions is one talent I seem to be lacking in.

  30. Fortunately, I can do many things, not all of them well of course, but I can do them. I’m pretty fearless so trying things has never been my issue, which means that I’ve been terrible at some of the things that I’ve tried. But I can’t do a back flip. I can’t even try that. I would LOVE the ability to do a back flip. Silly? Trite? Yep. But MAN, do I wish I could do that!

  31. … almost anything, in addition to the ability to pass exams, which is the one great talent I actually have.

    But I’d love to have musical talent. I play guitar, and know just how bad I am.

  32. You know that ear-splittingly loud and intense whistle that some people can do which involves putting your fingers in you mouth? I would trade my first born to learn how to do that.

  33. @Detroitus: How funny would it be if your first born ends up able to do that?

    I would like to play a musical instrument. I’m completely hopeless musically. I’m also not much of a dancer, but one of my goals for this year is to learn how to swing dance.

  34. I accept the scientific evidence for a hereditary component to “talent” and ability, too. We’ve seen it in our own family.

    Example: No one on my side of the family has any musical talent. However, my father-in-law is tremendously gifted in that regard and passed it to most of his kids, including my wife. Both of our daughters play instruments quite well. Indeed, our youngest could have gone to college on a music scholarhip, but she got it on academic grounds. (Doubly favored in the genetic lottery, I guess!)
    Meanwhile, Dad is stuck at the “play a CD” leel of music talent. Indeed, my “singing” voice could crack a styrofoam cup.

    I also would like some skill at advanced math, or rather, a deeper understanding of it. I am tremendously verbal – My SAT scores were ridiculously high in verbal/written and abysmal in math. I almost topped the verbal score and almost bottomed out in math. :-(

    I am also not “kinesthetically aware,” as an old college friend who was a coach once told me. I.e. I suck at sports. The only talent I have in that regard is that I am so strong that if I manage to connect with a baseball, it lands on Mars. I can’t do it with enough regularity to make a team, though. I’m also the only person I know that can throw a ball and have it land behind me…

    I do have the talent to pick up languages easily, and I suspect most people do if they are started early enough. (I grew up in PR, so I was immersed in Spanish at 5 years old.) If you haven’t started by your early teens, it appears to be much harder. It’s seems like a ‘mental muscle’ that has to be developed young, or not at all for most people.

    @James Fox: Writing good novels is hard work. Good writing in general is hard work. One famous author (wish I could remember which one) once said that “A professional writer is an amateur that never quit.” Remember that most good novels are never published. It’s a crap shoot between the author, the market and the editors.

    Guys like Tom Clancy lucked out by writing the right novel at the right time – and even he almost didn’t get published. The Hunt for Red October is one of the most successful first novels in publishing history. What if he hadn’t written it just as the ‘Reagan Revolution’ was getting started? As it was, he barely got it published…his novel was the first the Naval Institute Press ever published. No one else wanted to touch it. :-D

  35. @Detroitus: I didn’t learn to whistle at all until I was in elementary school, but I can do the fingers-in-the-mouth whistle.
    My students hate when I do it, but hey, all they have to do to avoid it is to shut the fuck up when I start talking. :->

  36. I did not get tagged with the sports gene. Both parents, while not fantastic athletes, are quite actively inclined, and my dad even played rugby in the National Provincial Championships (that said, we lived in a very small province, not such a huge pool to pick players from). For most of my life, this didn’t bother me, since I was really not interested in sports, until I discovered netball (which is a bit like basketball, and is really big in New Zealand). I suck at it. I played it every year in intermediate and high school, and graded in the bottom team every time. It’s pretty much the only thing I really wish I was good at! My brother didn’t get that one either, but he’s really good at music. I’m pretty good academics-wise, but that’s not really one of those things that people go ‘wow, she’s really good at that’ about. I’d also quite like to be able to sing (not extremely well, just in tune, so that windows didn’t shudder!) and to draw. I can imagine drawing in my head, and know exactly what each line should look like, but actually getting it on to paper is a very different story!

  37. Well, I’ve got the arts reasonably well covered: I am innately a good cook, musician, singer songwriter, recording engineer, producer, poet, fiction writer, blahblahblah, but I cannot paint or draw to save my life.

    I really wish I could. Paint or draw that is.

    Also, although it’s not a talent so much as a skill, I wish I was much better at critical thinking.

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