In Praise of Useless Skills

The Kid (who was born to one of my many sisters 18 years ago) is having problems. She’s going to college in the fall and she doesn’t know what classes to take or what to major in or what to do with the rest of her life.

“Am I always going to be this stressed?” she asked.

“Nope. Going to college is a major stressor.”

“Am I wasting my time in classes that won’t help me in my career?”

“Of course not,” said her former English major auntie.

I tried to explain to The Kid the value of a liberal arts education. Then I reflected on the wide array of useless skills I have and the paucity of useful skills. But fuck that. Let’s celebrate the useless ones.

1. I can write notes to my friends in Jane Austen’s style. They, being lovely and geeky, write me in turn. I do it better.

2. I can read alto clef.

3. I know the entire canon of Simon and Garfunkel by heart.

4. I can find the poetry section in five bookstores that have now closed. (Probably because I didn’t buy enough poetry books.)

5. I can spot sun dogs.

6. I can tell whether I’m looking at a star or a planet.

7. I can recite the alphabet backward.

8. I regularly lose interest in lists after about 6 or 7.

What are your favorite and least favorite useless skills?

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12 responses to “In Praise of Useless Skills

  1. I can balance a spoon on my nose, do a fairly good imitation of Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World”, and determine the author and title of a book with minimum details.

    Only two of these things have ever been useful to me.

  2. You’ve missed the point, Auntie Indy: what one really learns in the trivium, or the quadrivium (look it up) is how to start a revolution. Isn’t that why the word is “liberal”? And aren’t liberals all commie revolutionaries? Now that’s useful!

    Tell that to The Kid!

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