Hidden Talents


I played hacky sack for years as a kid. “That means you smoked a lot of refer and didn’t graduate from college, or if you did graduate it was in philosophy”. Wrong on all counts, although I am a decent amateur philosopher. Some of my original material:

Once you realize you are humble, that means you aren’t…

What’s the meaning of life? It is to live a life of meaning

For those of you who say Great White Sharks should be declared and protected as an engangered species, please riddle me this; How many surfers do you see biting off Great Whites’ legs and arms?

Religion doth breed war. Sadder yet, for some souls, war is a religion…

That last one was more of a poem with philosophy in it, but you get the idea.

hacky 3

“Duuuuuude, want to hack?”

Anyway hacky sack is a blast and it gets the girls too. No it doesn’t. It makes you look like a tool really, especially if you are quite tall and skinny and wear hemp necklaces. But it is a blast.

stoner 4

“Why of course I do.”

Now jump forward to 2 weeks ago. On a nice Sunday afternoon, I’m pulling into our driveway with Reba, Oliver, and Amelia. Our routine is that Reba gets the Tubaluv out of her seat and carries her in while I unhook Oliver’s car seat belt (his car seat is in the middle of the back seat of the Camry), open his door, and he climbs out and closes the car door behind him. Usually I don’t wait right at the car door for him since he’s a big boy and a naturally careful fellow and has successfully done this a thousand times. But this time I happened to be right there when he was getting out. In making the usual transition from standing on the seat to sitting on it, Oliver tripped up on something and when I looked he was falling toward the concrete floor from about 4 feet above.


Me at the World Games in Munich, 2003

Kids fall all the time. No big deal. But this landing was going to be a very, very big deal. He could not have been leading more precisely with his face had he been a professional pie eating contest pie eater. And the human instinct that rockets ones arms forward to protect the moneymaker had taken the day off and had found as his substitute the Olympic ski jumper’s instinct that shoots ones arms aerodynamically backwards. This wasn’t going to be a character-building goose bump and scratch on the face landing. This was going to quite possibly yield some very sad trauma, with a broken jaw, broken nose, cracked skull, broken teeth, and/or maybe even a brain injury all in the realm of possibility. I was carrying something in my arms and regardless, by the time I saw him going down he was already too low to have grabbed anyway, even with ninja speed. So without me consciously marshalling so much as a single neuron, my right foot (my hacky foot) shot out, caught his face on my shoe and continued to drop the rest of the way with his face on it, slowing a bit with every inch, like you do when catching an egg with your hands.  I honed this skill breaking the fall of my phone a few times a week. But this Oliver catch was truly a thing of beauty. Does it necessarily make me a hero? Yes, yes it does. I’m telling you, if this had been caught on video I would be taking over the Bourne movie franchise and Wheel of Fortune would be beating down my door to replace Pat and/or Vanna.

What’s my point? My point is that I may not be the greatest guy in the world. May not be good for a whole lot. Maybe I make I lot of comments on this blog that I have to go back and edit and publicly apologize for. Maybe my orthodontist gave me vampire fangs (before they were “in”, a la Edward) and maybe I wet my sleeping bag at my first scout camp at Bear Lake when I was only 12, but you know what? None of that really matters, because I have skills that you wouldn’t even know about and one of them saved my little boy’s entire face the other day. Do you know what would have happened if he had President Obama or Bachelor Andy or Shaq or Ryan or Ryan Seacrest or Davis or Kristin Davis as his dad? Broken face.


“Sorry son, I’m more of a quick hands type guy. On the bright side, they are making really impressive progress with these face transplants in France now, so.”

What’s your hidden talent?

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21 Responses to Hidden Talents

  1. Davis says:

    Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. I have no peer in the area of catching things that have fallen with either my hand or my foot. So it was impossible to catch Oliver with your hand? Maybe. For you. And in the unlikely event that I would have been unable to catch him with my hand, I guarantee I would have used my foot not only to break his fall but also to flip him up and tousle his hair. I have no equal on this front.

  2. Eliza says:

    Dang funny stuff. That sounds very very impressive, I’m so glad you saved face ; )

    My hidden talent is that I have jedi reflexes, unfortunately this does not mean being a good catcher, but it does mean this if something is falling and I’m withing grabbing distance you can bet I will be there saving the day before you even know what is happening.

    Another talent and yes, we’ll call it a talent, not stalking, is remembering people. I once was at walmart and i saw this guy that looked so familiar, I knew I knew him but not well enough that it was legit. I literally thought about it for two days trying to figure out where I knew him from. Then I realized he was our waiter when we all went out together at least 3 months before. He was a really good waiter. Yes, that is kind of amazing and I could be used for a weapon of mass destruction if put in the wrong hands.

  3. Ryan says:

    So your talent is that you kicked your kid in the face, slowly? Let me ask you this. Did Oliver appreciate your save? My guess is that you, with your paternalistic attitude, thinking you know what’s best for this other person, still pat yourself on the back for what you did, whereas, if I asked him what happened, he would just tell me “I was falling and then dad kicked me in the face.”

  4. Skewdizzle says:

    Good save Bell. I’ve actually resurrected my hacky sack and have been playing outside in the warm sun lately. I love hacky sack because it was the only physical activity (I’m reluctant to call it a sport) that I demonstrated any dominance in. I’m not too modest to say that out of all our friends I am the best. Which is really nice when you are playing strip hacky in Booster’s driveway when Carolyn and you future wife shows up. (Interesting note: while playing strip hacky we were all lubed up in sun tanning oil which really gave emphasis to our physical frailty.) In other areas of competitive sports I was horrible, and always ended up literally kissing someone else’s bare butt in defeat, usually Dallin’s. (Another interesting note: we played butts bowling one night with the dudes. I lost and had to pucker up to Dal, again. This time was really bad because my future wife was there and we had just moved to the making out stage of our relationship.) So Chris good save, but why don’t you and Nate come over to my house and play some butts hacky with me, we’ve got a score to settle.

  5. Braden Bell says:

    Kook, very funny post. And Ry’s comment is hilarious, too. I’m glad you have skills.

    I have no hidden talents, at least not like this. I’m like Liza in that I remember faces. However, I am unlike her in that I never remember where I’ve seen them. I also remember meeting people I’ve never met before.

  6. Andrea W. says:

    LOL, Braden on remembering people you’ve never met! That is funny. Christian, how scary! I’m so glad you and your foot were there for poor little Oliver. As usual, you wrote about it in the most entertaining way.

    As for my hidden talents, I’ve been thinking and I’ve come up with two. The first one is obvious if you’ve ever been bowling with me, I am sort of freakishly strong. My Dad has always appreciated and noticed this when we’ve gone bowling, I roll the ball really hard and really fast (with little to no accuracy) and really smart people like Dad are impressed by that.

    My second talent is I’m sometimes a good mimic. Unfortunately I can’t usually immitate anyone famous, but can do a mean impression of my kids when they’re 2 or 3 and have those cute temporary speech impediments.

  7. Layne says:

    Skew, I’m dying right now. Trying to hold in the belly laughs during my sandwich break at work. Butts bowling? You literally kissing Dal’s bare bottom with you wife in attendance? How is this the first time I’m hearing of this? I’m sad I didn’t know you guys better in high school.

    As for my talent, I would say mediocrity. It sounds bad but it’s true. I may not be the best at stuff, but invariably, I’m always better than some. For instance, the wasatch powderkeg. I was really worried about coming in last, but I ended up 8th out of about 30 guys. So there you go.

  8. Landon says:

    Good post! I hate it when I do amazing things and look around hoping someone saw it and will call the news tip-line so i can get all the due credit and there isn’t anyone. Ryan, good comment I was thinking the same thing. my foot-related hidden talent is my toe dexterity. you know those dateline specials where people drive and eat with their toes when they lose their hands, i’ve always thought that i would function ok without hands. I have honed this skill through laziness rather than through necessity, and probably inherited it a little bit. whenever cleaning my room or the front room sometimes i will finish and not have used my hands once.

  9. Ryan says:

    Landon, that is so awesome about cleaning up without ever using your hands. It’s so funny how so many “hidden talents” are actually “freak show abnormalities” when viewed a little differently.

    In that sense, I’m very proud of my talent for eating entire boxes of donuts in just a couple of hours.

  10. Christian says:

    Landon, Ryan, and Braden, you obviously aren’t understanding this. Let me break it down for you:

    Imagine that you are thrown from a plane at 20,000 feet. You will reach terminal velocity at around 120 mph (challenge me Ben, I dare you). You have a dear friend who is a giant, say the rock eating giant from Never Ending Story. He puts a king-sized mattress in his rocky hand and puts it a few feet under you, while pulling it down at your same 120 mph so you don’t land on it yet. He does this at 1000 feet. Then he slows the mattress down by a mile per hour until you land on it, but only at a relative 1 mile per hour. Then he continues to slow the mattress with you on it by a mile per hour every few feet, until you are completely stopped before you hit the ground.
    That’s basically what happened with Oliver and me, but on a smaller scale.

    Skew, man that is some funny, funny stuff. Why you and the other skater types in the group ever agreed to Nate’s contests in conventional sports, with really awful punishments for the losers, I will never know. But I’m sure glad you did. I remember that bowling date. Seems like Nate was on a date too and that was the first time he had lost one of those. Is that right?

    Landon, I like the thought of you sitting on the couch watching the game, while absent-mindedly cleaning the room with your toes. Good for you.

    Ange, trust me, I’ve heard quite enough about your power bowling from ol Greg for one lifetime (didn’t matter if I doubled your score, because your ball hit the gutter with such ferocity and impressive force)

    Eliza, stay away from me and my family.

    Skew, you did know how to rip a hacky sack up. I remember that.

  11. Sherri says:

    On any given Sunday I can entertain and even teach 30 young children ages 2-12 with nothing but some chalk and my own self. In Espanol.

  12. Sherri says:

    For two hours!

  13. Ryan says:

    Wow. I think Sherri may have won.

  14. Ryan says:

    Also, Kook, that was a nice fantasy about the mattress that the giant put on his foot. I was trying to see in your post what the allegorical mattress corresponded to in the real story. I am deducing that maybe you had a hacky sack strapped to your foot, on which to soften Oliver’s fall. Is that it?

  15. Wade says:

    My hidden talent stems from my economics brainwash I suffered in college. For years I would wake up in cold sweats at night having dreamt I forgot to set marginal benefit equal to marginal cost. I’ve gotten my PTSD under control now, but my subconscious is always probing for ways to optimize the most meaningless things. Take, for example, the triple decker sandwich. Does anyone else out there feel like the regular PB&J has too much bread? And that one sandwich is not quite enough, but two sandwiches too many? Enter the triple decker. You can imagine what it looks like, but the result is you increase the PB&J to bread ratio by 25% and get the perfect meal-sized sandwich. PB&J = optimized.

    How about all you diet coke drinkers out there? By now you’ve realized DC has too much caffeine and not enough flavor for the long haul. Enter Diet Suicide. Next time you’re at a soda fountain, try this ratio: 40% DC 40% caffeine free DC, 20% Coke Zero. Yes, you heard me right, and once you try, you’ll never go back. Meaningless, but optimized.

    I could go on about breaking/accelerating in rush hour with a manual tranny, shoelace tying, Comcast and lawn watering, but I’ll spare you the gore. I haven’t saved my child’s face with this talent yet, but I imagine that day will come.

  16. Christian says:

    Sherri, you do win. That’s incredible. They should pay you for that.

    Wade, you should have been one of those famous time management guys in the early 1900’s who were figuring out how to find additional efficiency in everything, including which method of buttoning up your shirt was the fastest (like the dad in the original Cheaper by the Dozen). A few people made a lot of money of that stuff. And your comment reminded me of one of my hidden talents, which is being able to talk on the phone, take notes, and eat a sandwich while driving.

  17. Christian says:

    Ryan, the “mattress” in our case was the soft material on the top of my shoe, plus my sock, plus that quarter inch of muscle and fat and skin on the top of ones foot. But you didn’t catch the point of the gradual catch and slow. I could have caught him with my concrete-hard abs by that method and he wouldn’t have felt a thing.

  18. S Trojan says:

    I found you of MMB. You are funny. Your skills are impressive. Are you a mommy? and a man? I mean, just trying to get this straight. I’m new the the blogging world. What I wonder, with your mad skills, is if your son was actually ever falling, or if you “accidently” kicked him in the face and your wife saw and you were like, “huh, what? Oh, I just saved his life… with my foot.” I mean, I’m just saying, it sounds a little shady and you do seem shady because you posted your blog on a mommy blog, unless you are a mommy and then I retract all my comments.

  19. Troy says:

    …I’ll take this one, Chris.

    S Trojan, I’m going to clear this one up for you. Chris is a complicated character, tough to nail down. Almost impossible to categorize. But there is one thing he is without a doubt, and that’s a Shady Mommy Man. So there you go. Nice call.

  20. Christian says:

    S Trojan, welcome to the site. I’m glad you found us, even if it was through trickery. Troy is right, of course. This isn’t the first time I’ve been called a shady mommy man, and I suspect it won’t be the last.

  21. Danica says:

    Way too many gems in this thread. Hidden talent? Hmm, I can do really good flip turns while swimming. Kind of like a shark would if it were swimming laps and had legs and stuff. Pushing off the wall doing breast stroke? Pshaw. I’m sorta the bomb at that.

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