When I see Wayne Brady on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” or Turk on “Scrubs” do some fancy Michael Jackson-like dancing, it always makes me wish I could do it myself. Not because I want to hit nightclubs and enter competitions or anything, just because I think it’d be fun to be able to do it, and I like making people laugh. Doing an MJ impression in an improv show – a good impression, anyway – is a sure-fire laugh-getter. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. Sadly, it doesn’t look like I’ll be mastering that particular talent any time soon, and I won’t explain what kind of research has been done to engender that conclusion.
Lamenting that got me thinking about other things that I’ve wanted to learn over the course of my life but never did. I present the following three in order of least likely to most likely still possible.
- Breakdancing – As if my age didn’t reveal it anyway, this will certainly prove that I am a child of the 80s. I was always mesmerized by people spinning on their backs and popping and locking and flipping and all of that. I was amazed by the physicality of it all. One weekend in high school, I was going to stay overnight at my friend Larry’s house, so I got a “How To Breakdance” book from the library. After everyone else went to bed, we went into the kitchen (it had the smoothest floor, see) and tried a thing or two… for about 2 minutes. It was about then that we realized a) learning dancing from books is futile at best and b) we were the whitest whites that ever whited. That was my first and last attempt at learning to breakdance.
- Skateboarding – You can add surfing and snowboarding to this one, because there’s apparently something about riding a board of some sort that appeals to me – surfing’s right out because of my lack of desire to drown, but the other two here still tug on me every so often. Several (15) years ago I bought a $20 skateboard at Wal-Mart and started riding it around in various church parking lots while on tour. I never did anything but ride it around, because that’s all I could (barely) do. I wanted to Stalefish, Backside 540, and Ollie into a Nosegrind, sure, but I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to go about any of it. I figured books wouldn’t be much help to me, and I didn’t know how else to go about learning. I met a fellow on tour who showed me how to do an Ollie, and I understood it conceptually, but could never pull it off, in part, perhaps, because my $20 Wal-Mart skateboard weighed as much as an M4 Sherman tank. Though my church has recently built a skate park, I think this one has passed me by, too, regardless of Tony Hawk’s being 40 and still at it. I’ll stick to playing his games and wearing his shoes.
- Martial Arts – We can thank Bruce Lee, – and, to a lesser extent, my friend Dave – for this one. Dave’s the one who introduced me to Bruce Lee movies, and his dad studied martial arts (karate and Jeet Kune Do, I believe), and I thought it was just about the coolest thing that ever. Sure, the one-inch punches and flying kicks were what initially drew me to it, but as I came to understand it more it was the discipline and focus that became the draw. This one is still crawling around in my brain and actually has the most possibility of happening of any of these. While it would be difficult for a person my age to master a martial art, by design they can be picked up by people in almost any age group. The physical exercise and mental discipline would be good for me… but are also the biggest hindrances to me ever doing it.
I’m not sure why most of the things I’d like to learn are things that involve possible skull-cracking, but I can’t imagine that doesn’t play a big role in why I haven’t done any of them.
So what’s something you’ve wanted to learn but haven’t? Anyone want to go dojo-shopping with me?