This son never shined in fishing, fixing, sports
Incompetence does have its benefits. For example, Dad only took my brothers and me fishing two or three times. Initially, I was disappointed that I never did land a fish.
However, in retrospect, I don't know how I would have cleaned it if I did manage to hook a particularly stupid trout.
Even if I had accomplished that without severing a major artery, I would have had to eat it. I make a policy to eat no fish unless Mrs. Paul has helped to cook it.
I made it through three years of vocational education (then called "shop") classes, in seventh, eighth and ninth grades without any ambulance rides to the hospital, but I cannot really say anything positive about my mechanical or carpentry skills.
When making a meat carving board for my mother, I planed and sanded it so much that when she put in on the kitchen table, you could see the pattern of the table cloth beneath it.
This lack of handiwork skills paid off much later. When I remodeled a home, I knew enough to stick to my strengths - tearing things down.
After I ripped down plaster walls and ceilings throughout the house, I was smart enough to hire a guy who knew what he was doing to rebuild everything.
My wife Jo Ann knows better than to ask me to fix anything around our home that requires more skill than being able to replace an empty roll of toilet paper.
As a result, the traditional "honey do" list in our home doesn't contain any do-it-yourself projects for me. However, I started typing long before it became known as keyboarding, so I can prepare the list.
I also do my part when it comes to the projects beyond my mechanical skills - which include just about all those jobs. I do my part, though.
If it's a simple project, I ask Jo Ann to do it whenever she has the time. For more complicated chores, I volunteer to contact our "designated handyman," Zechariah.
Zechariah was the guy who put our first house back together after I had torn it apart, so he is familiar with my do-it-yourself skills.
You may be familiar with the laws that prohibit dangerous felons from possessing guns and other weapons. As far as I know, I am the only person who is legally banned from owning any tools.
I am at that awkward stage of life when I am slowing down and time is speeding up, so I no longer have to worry about making a fool of myself trying to play a sport.
(Nowadays, I can make a fool of myself sitting in a comfy chair or just standing around.)
However, my lack of athletic skills excused me from most sports many years ago.
You may recall the kid who was always the last one picked whenever the other kids chose sides. Well, I filled in for that kid when he was not able to make it. I was a last-pick substitute.
I had thought my athletic career was well behind me after I set a junior baseball league record for most consecutive games sitting on the dugout bench and led the league in water consumption three seasons in a row.
Then I made a brief comeback of sorts on the junior high basketball team. If he saw the way I played the game, Dr. James Naismith would have never claimed responsibility for inventing basketball. The doctor would have just kept the peaches in the baskets instead of nailing the baskets to the gymnasium walls.
My final athletic humiliation came in college, whenever my fraternity needed a player for some intramural event.
As a result, I was "drug" in tug-of-war, dragged in flag football and socked in soccer; winding up being rundown in track.
For a few years, I humiliated in golf instead of team sports. However, I spent so much time in the woods instead of the fairway that I was mistaken for Big Foot on more than one occasion.
I dug so many divots with my golf clubs that local farmers tried to hire me to plow up their fields. They said it turned up ground much faster than their tractors did.
It turns out that something that has been with me since I was a kid got me out of the sun for work and for fun - my pasty white complexion.
I used to get sunburned even in the relatively short amount of time I spent on the grass of a golf course and not its trees.
This was enough reason for me to give up golf, but I felt even more justified when medical studies pointed out the dangers of exposing fluorescent skin like mine to the sun.
As an added bonus, this even got me out of doing gardening and lawn mowing during the day.
This means that I have to plant, weed, water and mow in the twilight hours, after the sun has set, or by moonlight. Now, if I can figure out why moonlight is bad for me, I can really take it easy.
(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)