There are things that I do relatively well—such as remembering useless trivia, covering books neatly in plastic, breaking bad news to people, getting free rides in buses and jeeps, fixing leaky faucets, fixing an errant Windows OS, abusing metaphors, making fun of myself, blending in the wallpaper, writing resignation letters, among few other things.
And then there are things that I do not do well—like using the semi-colon correctly, saving money, following instructions and directions, washing my own clothes, going on dates, making small talk on dates, meeting expectations , balancing chemical equations, sports, gaining weight, coming to class on time, coming to work on time, avoiding self-deprecation, among many other things.
This neat taxonomy of things should translate to a neat pie graph, a sort of reference that I may consult in the point of indecision. Say I have to decide if I should go back to juggling work and school. I only need to consult the pie graph and find out that my time-management skills are comparable to that of an infant gorilla, and I would know that it cannot be done. Regrettably, it is not as simple as it may seem.
It’s an affliction of the educated and ambitious middle class to believe that they could better their circumstances simply by redistributing items in their pie graphs, plucking things from the “Do these at your own peril” portion of their pies and transferring them over to their “Do these, you’re a genius” portions. In short, some people think, myself included most of the time, that they can change their fates by conquering their flaws and faults, by becoming wealthier, healthier, better-looking, smarter, or any combination of the four.
These past few weeks, I have been seeing the real Selkirk (hence, the previous blog post). But this was not before consulting my astrolabe, my pie graph, just to keep things in perspective and keep me from doing something that might make me look more stupid than I really am. Quite predictably, I still ended up trying to do and say things that made me look more stupid than I really am. And worse, I am not certain if I should throw in the towel just yet. I just have to keep my competition in my peripheral vision and make sure I do better next time.
This reminds me of my days as a boy scout, when I would go camping for days in Mount Makiling with several other homos-in-the-making. There was this certain jamboree (I cringe at the name now, the term sounds as gay as a basket). And we had been told to chop wood for a campfire. We were given a single axe, which was too big and too rusty that our parents, had they known about it, would have sued our school in no time.
I picked up the axe and proceeded to the waiting mountain of firewood. Then a kid we’ll call Keven Costner, the school bully, came up to me. “Who do you think you are?” the future Downelink monarch asked me.
“I don’t know. But I know you’re worse in this than I am,” I told him, looking at him straight in the eye. Then I hacked at the wood with the axe and sent flint flying everywhere.