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Discovering a skill you’d rather not have

Submitted by on Friday, 26 February 2010 2 Comments

Have you ever had the bad luck to be good at something you don’t like doing?

It happened to me once, between my sophomore and junior years in college. I’d accepted a summer internship as a reporter, only to have the job change to copy editing after I scored well on a grammar, style and punctuation test.

I hated every bloody second of it. I wanted to write stories, not fix them.

Still, I threw myself into the job, grilling the veterans and poring over the paper’s design manual. Even though I was abjectly miserable most of the summer, I had to admit I was a stronger journalist by the time I returned to campus.

So I can sympathize with Big Guy’s plight, as he remains abjectly miserable playing defense almost exclusively during the current soccer season. He hates every bloody second of it – hates it worse than if he’d come home from school and found his room redecorated in a Hello, Kitty motif.

He started out on defense, I think, because he was one of the youngest players on the team and unknown to the coach.

He remains there because it turns out that he’s good at it.

The goalies playing behind him might as well bring their sleeping bags. He paces cagily from sideline to sideline as the opposing team approaches, eying the ball just as studiously as he did during the days when he was scoring four goals a game. He’s determined to not just stop the attack, but to send the ball back the other way. He takes it personally if anything gets past him.

And he comes off the court and grumbles anyway.

“I hate defense,” he growls.

The coach shakes his head in wonderment. “I keep telling him he’s playing defense because he’s awesome. He doesn’t believe me.”

His best friend’s dad, who’s also the team’s assistant coach, can’t convince him either. “You’re an amazing defender! You’re out there because you’re good.”

I’ve tried to turn him around, explaining that his teammates can score a million goals but if the defense gives up a million and one they’re still going to lose. And he’s learned that he likes it when his team wins, which is definite progress from the start of the season. A mere month ago, he was unhappy even after victories if he hadn’t scored.

Dad, who was a good enough defender back in his day to earn a spot on a California all-star team, also has tried. “Goals are important,” he told Big Guy. “But you’re not going to win if you give up more than you score.”

“Hmph. That’s what Mom said,” Big Guy grunted. I’m not sure if he took it as affirmation or betrayal.

Regardless of what he thinks, he goes out there twice a week and does the job, all the while viewing it the same way he would if I served him last week’s leftovers for lunch.

One of these days, he’ll look back on the experience and be glad he had it. That day’s not going to come this season, though. Probably not the next one either.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • David Lo Pan said:

    Looks like a typo here “I hated very bloody second of it. I wanted to write stories, not fix them.
    ” Did you mean every bloody second? And not very bloody second?

  • Debra said:

    He he he. Kind of ironic on a post about how much I hated copy editing, huh?

    You are correct, and it’s fixed.