If life is a talent contest, it sometimes pays to lose
Sometimes I daydream that I have a great singing voice that amazes and impresses people whenever it is heard. When I snap out of my reverie, I am disappointed - but only for a moment.
With a voice like mine, the only way I am allowed to sing in public is if the building's fire alarm system fails and they have to clear the place in a hurry.
The big advantage is that I will not ever (and I don't think "ever" is too strong of a word) be asked to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" before a sporting event.
Why is that so good? This means that I will never be one of those singers who forgets the words of the national anthem on national television.
Sure, we all forget the words to songs when we are gathered together and singing Christmas songs, old standards or favorites from our teen years.
We usually manage a few words for every lah-dah-dah we throw in or just give up all together and hum. We then make up for it by singing the words we do know as loudly as we can sing them.
("Five golden rings" is always at least three times as loud as choruses six through 12 of "The 12 Days of Christmas.)
Unfortunately, this system does not work too well when you are standing in front of a microphone and singing our nation's most important song in front of untold numbers of people at the stadium and at home covered with snack food crumbs.
You can't just fake it and come in strong at the end with "and the home of the brave!"
So, there is definitely an advantage of having a lousy singing voice. The same could be said by my total lack of mechanical skills.
My industrial arts teacher in junior high, Mr. Grommet, increased both his medical and life insurance policies after my first day in his class.
Mr. Grommet allowed me to pass through three years of instruction with the gift of a C each marking period because I did not seriously injure myself, my classmates or, most importantly, him.
This lack of manual skills has worked out to my advantage. Nobody in his or her right mind - and most people in their wrong mind - would even consider asking me to help with a do-it-yourself project.
Once in a while, someone will take advantage of my destruction skills by asking me to help him take something apart or tear something down, but that's about it.
My lack of athletic skills has also worked out to my advantage.
After a few years of being chosen last whenever sides were picked for a street corner ballgame or tag football, I discovered the opportunity in my loss of self-esteem.
As soon as the team captains began choosing up sides, I went home, got something to drink and grabbed a sandwich. When I looked down the street and saw that the crowd had been divided into two half-crowds, I returned.
I knew right away what team I was on. The guys who were complaining and cringing as I approached were my teammates for that game.
This athletic ineptitude paid huge dividends when I became an adult. There seems to be a certain point in most guys' lives when they get the urge to try something adventurous.
There is, of course, a big difference between adventurous and foolish. I once worked with a guy named Clerow. One time, his wife Cleona asked him if a new dress made "her look fat." He replied, "Yes, it does."
When I visited him in the hospital, Clerow told me that he now knew the difference between adventurous and foolish.
Most guys choose less dangerous adventures, such as skydiving from planes, bungee-jumping off tall bridges or climbing majestic mountains.
One of my brothers tried skydiving with success, but I knew that would not end well with me.
I would not be able to pull the rip cord on my parachute. Why? Because I would be still holding with a death grip onto the steel frame of the plane's doorway after being pushed out by the instructor and other students.
Bungee-jumping likewise holds little attraction. I was actually a pioneer in the sport when I was a kid. Our school playground was separated from the sidewalk below by two railings of cast iron and a 6-foot high stone wall.
We used to have wide bands of rubber that we use to hold our books together. I linked a couple of them together, tied them to both legs and one of the railings, and jumped off the wall.
I sprang back up, but only after cracking the sidewalk and flattening my pompadour when my head hit the concrete.
While I am reaching the age where I could legally be called an "old goat," do not expect me to be a mountain goat.
I would rather be the kind of goat that eats old tin cans than the one who climbs dangerously steep mountains.
"Oh, say can you see" that my house is definitely NOT "the home of the brave."
(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)