Talent Show Bitterness

When I was younger and family reunions were still a thing, we used to go to exotic locations like California, Arizona, or Utah to visit old people. Every time, I would get comments like, “My, how you’ve grown,” or “Why does he always have a scowl on his face?” Then really ancient relatives wouldn’t show up at the next one for some reason. Maybe they didn’t like my scowl.

We did like some of our first cousins, and we would play cards in grandma’s basement or try to steal from her candy stash. At the end of reunions, there was always a talent show, which was bad for my nuclear family, because we didn’t have any talents. Well, that’s not entirely true. We did stupid things, like my dad wiggling his ears, or me showing off my “double jointed fingers”. Thankfully, we never had to participate because my unbelievably talented second cousins put us all to shame.

Not a talent.

They were, and still are, the most talented people I know. My dad’s cousin and her husband raised their kids from before they could walk or talk in all the musical arts. They sang, danced, played multiple instruments, and acted. They had six girls (all starting with the letter K) and one boy (with the letter D) and boy, did they all have talent. They exhausted the entire talent pool from the rest of the family.

At the reunion, they had a whole production. They were so good, that they traveled the world and even had a variety show in Branson, MO ala Riverdance, except they played music too. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also did stand up. If so, they would have won America’s Got Talent by a landslide. We all just sat in awe as they performed their magical talents.

They could do this, plus so much more.

It was at one of these reunions, as a 7-year-old talentless hack, that I realized I had wasted my whole life. I hadn’t learned how to sing, dance, or act and my life was a huge waste. I had no talent other than four fingers that bent at a weird angle. What had I been doing with my life? Sitting around not learning 5 different instruments, or even showcasing my golf skills on the Ed Sullivan show? I hadn’t even invented time travel yet. I was having my first existential mid-life crisis at the age of 7.

I knew that I needed to find my talent. How could I come up with a talent that could get me booked on same Next Great Family Reunion Talent Show reality show as my second cousins? How could I make use of out my so far useless life? But then I got distracted by a squirrel eating a nut outside, and all of a sudden, I was 18. Off to college to find my talent.

It wasn’t there either.

I didn’t have talent like Elle Woods, (or even Bruiser Woods) so I didn’t get into Harvard Law School. What, like it’s hard? I went to college for 5 years and still didn’t find any sign of musical talent, acting skill, or Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting-like math skills. I didn’t even learn to be an average magician like Burt Wonderstone.

I wasn’t even an average magician like Burt Wonderstone.

How can I possibly show my face at a family reunion ever again if I don’t have a talent?

It was bad enough that I couldn’t go to a family reunion ever again. I then learned that a talent was an ancient unit of measurement for weighing precious metals, like gold and silver. No wonder they call them talents. If you’re good enough at something, you can be worth talents of gold. King David had a crown that weighed a talent, which is 75 pounds. Imagine having a talent-sized crown on your head. I’m sure he didn’t wear it to bed every night. He got his talents because he was talented at slinging stones.

If you have a talent sized chunk of real gold, you’re doing well. I just looked it up. 75 pounds of gold is worth $1.8 million.

The thing is, I do have talent (not a gold talent). Everyone does. The reason why we all don’t wear 75-pound crowns on our heads, and have talents of gold, is because fame and fortune come from a rare intersection of talent, work, ability to show it off, and marketable talent. My second cousins were taught theirs from dedicated parents, actually worked on them for hours a day, and singing and dancing is a marketable talent that people will pay to watch.

Same with Tiger and Elle Woods (maybe I should change my last name to Woods). They both had talents (Tiger at a young age), they worked at them, and they were marketable talents (golf and lawyers).

Elle Woods, Tiger Woods, what is the connection? Mabye I need to change my last name to Woods.

My three talents are Bitterness, Writing, and making people laugh. The reason why I’m not famous is because I didn’t work or get talented at writing until I was older. My making people laugh skill isn’t making me rich, because I only use it with people that I care about, I’m an introvert, and I prefer sitting down to doing stand-up. And the bitterness, which comes easily and naturally to me, and had since I was a one-celled organism, isn’t a marketable skill in this increasingly united world we live in.

Other people have a mismatched talent problem. Gaining a talent not naturally fit for you, by pure practice and willpower isn’t unprecedented (Ratatouille – a rat becoming a cook). But some people and skills fit together like fishes and dirt biking. When there is a mismatch, it can be downright entertaining.

For instance, my daughter made us go to a variety concert at her school to see her ex perform. He didn’t get a solo for our ear’s sakes, and he was in no danger of getting a scholarship for his dancing. It was like watching chimps at a zoo doing 360 spins. He could’ve practiced from the day he was born until the day he died; he still would’ve been out of rhythm with the rest of the cast.

This, but also doing 360 spins out of rhythm.

My advice? If your talent(s) isn’t making you talents of gold, stop pursuing it immediately, because it’s useless. Look for another one that isn’t such hard work. Definitely don’t work on one, because it should come naturally. And for goodness’s sake, if you are a mismatched with one, make sure to invite me, because those are fun to watch.


Bitter Talent Show Ben


9 thoughts on “Talent Show Bitterness

  1. I got lucky and discovered that I have a talent that makes pretty good money, plus another talent that will eventually pay off. Iā€™m pretty meh at most other things, which is fine by me. Someone else can be good at that stuff so I can focus on the stuff I do well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have watched documentaries about what I call super families; seven children all brilliant musicians, play for the royal family etc. I wonder at what stage did the parents know they were going to be a super family; when the mother realised she was super mum and gave birth easily, when the babies and toddlers all started playing the piano before one year? Is that when they decided they must buy a big detached house with room for three grand pianos and six cellos…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty sure my second cousins parent’s knew that they were going to have a lot of kids and that they would raise them as musical. I’m not sure how easily they had them, but I’m sure they were trying to.

      Liked by 1 person

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