Last night, the younger Pickwick daughter announced to me that the one thing she was good at is lungs.
"Dad - they make such a lot of sense" before providing a brief taster of the icky bits to demonstrate her point. This appeared to have been garnered from the bringing together of a poor creature who no longer needed its lungs and what must have been a bicycle pump.
"When I get a question on lungs in my biology exam, BAM...I kill it".
This has left me considering the question at my leathery age, "what am I good at?"
As I am supposed to be grown up, I do not have the comfort blanket of being able to say I don't know about anything. I have to demonstrate that I do or can bluff with such confidence that it seems as if I do. Thus, what I am good at is demonstrated entirely by outcomes or flannel.
Unlike Pickwick junior, I am not good at lungs. And from an outcome point of view, neither are my lungs thanks to the slow development of asthma which precludes me sucking on a good cigar without dying or running down the beach at full tilt in my speedos as demonstrated by big and small screen heart throbs.
As for other body parts, I have my favourites, of which some I am adept at their use. Age has seen both greater awareness and application of their capabilities as well as the identification of one which it took many years for me to realise that I do not in fact possess one. This confusion had arisen from the inaccessibility of the part together with the fact that it can only be sighted with the exploratory zeal of a Victorian explorer and a light source. Finally and most conclusively, it only exists on women.
Relevant for the question "what am I good at" is "who's asking.". I know for instance that I am not a good dentist being entirely without qualifications, no eye for detail, fingers like sausages and no appetite to probe people's mouths. That is except for passionately kissing selective members of the fairer sex, an activity I do not apply wider than with Mrs Pickwick (by invitation only) after 23 years of wedded bliss.
In contrast, while I consider myself passable at DIY, Mrs Pickwick has a different view. However much I choose to defend my position, it does not make any difference. I am only allowed to succeed if I don't tell her what I have done. If I am allowed to put up shelves, it will always be viewed as a temporary measure, to be replaced with something more substantive when she chooses to employ someone who knows what they are doing and thus are good at it.
Taken as a whole, there are no clear things that I am good at as I was not a child prodigy, have never been recognised in a chosen field or had thousands of baying fans applauding my excellence blind to my lack of talent. As a child, apart from flatulence, those things I excelled at came to surface as no-one else wanted to do them, a feature that has continued into adulthood. I have been discerning in my choice though - a brief foray into bellringing for instance was more than I could bear despite having the quintessential features of those things I have always felt good at - existing at the fringes of polite society, carried out by people with beards and sensible footwear and tending to cause feelings of incredulity among people once they are aware of what I have been doing. My life experience has always therefore been one where I have been the prize wonky carrot in the village flower and produce show, bereft of any decent competition in the "best carrot resembling a part of the body" class.
There is also the dimension as to whether I want to be good at the matter in question. Mrs Pickwick for instance is of the opinion that I am very good at putting out the rubbish as well as making her a cup of tea if she asks in a certain way. Neither of these tasks are matters I wish to excel at although I am willing to carry them out in the interests of continued marital bliss. In my professional life, there are others who achieve their desired outcomes from me on the basis of my labours without there being any expectation that they will have to sleep with me. As I reflect on this imbalance, I am left with the inevitable conclusion that I should link the delivery of these outcomes to a requirement to sleep with me. It is likely however that this would lead to either a far simpler life or me being busy ever Friday night for the foreseeable future. And I may be good, but I am not that good anymore.
The problem at being good at anything is that there will always be someone better than you unless you are so supremely perfect that you walk on water. Such people tend not to be my chosen companion on an open boat far from shore unless I am hungry and have access to the means to preparing hot food. There is therefore much to be said for mediocrity. One should not excel at all times, rather exhale.
Essentially, all I should really be good at is being me. While attempts can be made to copy me, I am untouchable. I am a flawed diamond - unique, priceless, transparent and a girl's best friend. And I am the best goddamn me that the World has ever seen. God, I'm good!