The 5 Most Pointless Abilities People Love to Brag About
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In Holland, there is a man who can regulate his body temperature just by thinking about it. In England, there's a guy who can solve any mathematical equation in his head, as well as learn new languages in a week. From my normal standing position, I can jump really, really high. The point is, there are legitimate superpowers in the world, and a few of us are lucky enough to enjoy them for no reason other than genetic providence. Are we the future of humanity? Are we destined for something greater than the rest of you? No one knows for sure. But probably yes.
And yet, for every person with an extraordinary gift, there are whole knots of normal people mistaking their asinine quirks for significant abilities. They celebrate their meaningless talents loudly and often, trying to convince anyone who will listen that they are super. These people can't survive in ice water, they can't learn the subjunctive tense in 20 minutes, and they certainly couldn't jump onto really high stuff, like a dresser or something, if the floor suddenly turned to lava. However, that won't stop them from bragging unapologetically about their pointless "skills." Particularly these five ...
5 How Good They Are At Eating Spicy Foods
Any time you go out to dinner with a group of people and the menu has a chili icon next to some of the entrees, you can guarantee that one person in your group will order the spiciest meal possible as a matter of pride. They don't necessarily do it because they think they'll enjoy the meal -- in fact, they will likely weep and sweat through the whole thing. They do it because they want everyone at the table, everyone on the wait staff, and everyone in the kitchen to think, "Ah, now this person is really something special."
That's not to say that there aren't people who genuinely enjoy a little kick in their food. Entire countries aren't making traditional dishes as dares, after all. But there's a special subset of people who will use any opportunity to demonstrate their tolerance for pain, even something as benign as a meal. Consequently, there's no chance they will eat it quietly, either. They will let everyone else at the table know between each bite, each labored swallow, that "This is nothing" and "I'm from [insert culture], now they know spicy!"
Worst of all, if you happen to live with one of these people, each meal is a harbinger of domestic terrorism. Regardless of anyone's ability to choke down hot food through sheer will, that will has no say on the final product which fires back out of the body a couple hours later. Taste bud sensitivity may vary from person to person, but butts are pretty much all the same, and they don't like habaneros.
So if you're the type of person who eats extremely spicy food just to prove a point, you should know that you're not commanding the hushed respect of everyone around. They are silent because they are listening for the screams of your lower intestine so they know how much time is left before they have to flee.
4 How They Never Need A Jacket
While clearly aiming for the same sort of superpower as the Buddhist monks who can raise their body temperatures through meditation, this type of person looks forward to winter all year long because their entire sense of self is dependent on their tolerance for cold weather. During the first blizzard of the season, this person is already out in the streets -- not to build snowmen or have a snowball fight, but to conspicuously wear a T-shirt and accuse everyone else of going soft. For this person, gloves, jackets, and hats are symbols of defeat, and everyone else might as well be bundled up in white flags of submission to the elements.
In addition, they will tell you for as long as you will listen about some city or town they lived in that isn't here and how, because the winters there are so wet/dry/northerly/high in elevation that they experienced a type of cold you couldn't possibly conceive of with your tiny, wool-clad mind. As a result, this person is immune to temperatures that would kill someone as fragile as you.
I know this type because I used to be one. I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, then moved to Los Angeles, where people use an overcast day as an excuse to climb into "winter wear." But I'm willing to admit that even LA gets legitimately cold sometimes, and no one was falling over in admiration when I'd wear shorts in January and call everyone else cowards.
Incidentally, the people who wrap themselves in confidence instead of polypropylene each winter are the same people who refuse to admit when they're sick. Instead, they will chalk up their impacted sinuses and four-month cough to allergies.
3 How Well They Function On No Sleep
Each night, while you are unconscious in some dark room for six to ten hours, caving to your own weakness, there are apparently hundreds of people with a stronger nature than yours living their goddamn lives and getting tons of really important shit done. They are the sleep anorexics, and for such a frenzied, fast-paced group, they sure seem to have a lot of time to hang around telling you exactly how little sleep they're getting.
Also, they are incapable of quantifying their sleep schedule one night at a time. They can only understand it in three- or four-day chunks. "I've slept five hours in the last three days," they will laugh, or "I'm running on seven hours sleep for the entire week. It's crazy."
Sleep anorexics' self-esteem is not proportional to how little sleep they get. It's directly proportional to how little sleep they get compared to you. They are all participating in a secret competition of who can stay up the longest, so when you say you slept well last night, they will only nod smugly and think about how they left another feeble loser in the dust.
But like a child who tries to stay up all night in a desperate attempt to feel powerful, eventually these people crash, falling into deep, slack-jawed sleep in movies, meetings, bars, and pretty much anywhere that requires sitting still for more than two minutes at a time.
2 How Amazing They Are At Spotting Celebrities
The trouble with this ability is that it could actually be a useful talent if it wasn't being squandered on a completely worthless pursuit. Some people are so good at memorizing faces, body structure, and mannerisms that they can tell who someone is from a hundred yards away, sometimes even from behind. If they nurtured that skill to hunt down missing persons and wanted criminals, they could be heroes. Instead they use their gift to point out a disguised Jake Gyllenhaal to everyone else in an airport terminal.
If you know people who pride themselves on being able to spot celebrities, it won't take much prodding for them to rattle off every star they've ever seen, and if you're particularly unlucky, they'll have one of those autograph books that make you retroactively embarrassed for everyone who was present during each signature.
That's because celebrity spotters aren't accruing their autographs at junkets or conventions. No, they prefer to catch celebrities in the wild. They see Alex Trebek going the opposite direction on the freeway at 60 miles an hour and give chase. They'll glimpse Howie Mandel having dinner in a restaurant and pound on the window until he acknowledges them. Worst of all, they'll recount every exchange without any hint of humiliation. In fact, they're proud of their accomplishments. As far as they're concerned, celebrities are all complicit goals in a massive scavenger hunt -- a hunt they happen to be winning. Naturally, they want you to know about the talent that leads them to success, because a conversation with you is the closest thing they will ever have to a postgame interview.
1 How Often They Need To Shave
Ladies, you can just sit back and relax on this one, because it's specific to men, unless there's a whole quadrant of women out there I don't know about who can't shut up about how quickly their body pockets grow another layer of Velcro after each shave.
For some men, though, their entire concept of masculinity is defined by facial hair. When they shave in the morning and a new crop has budded by mid-afternoon, they want you to know about it, goddammit. They want to talk about how many razors they go through in a month, and how some days they'll shave twice, and how lucky the rest of us are that we don't have to cope with such unbridled testosterone. Even men who don't brag out loud about it still brag silently with their stupid sandpaper chins.
"But Soren," you might say with your unnaturally deep voice and pronounced Adam's apple, "I'm not bragging about my facial hair, I'm commiserating with other people who have to deal with it." To which I say:
This might be a good time to mention that I'm not jealous. Granted, the seeds of puberty could gain no purchase on my face, but I can see it in each of your eyes that you are boasting on the inside about all your facial hair potential. Well, I've got news for you: That's not a power. It's not going to save babies from house fires or something. Come talk to me when you can jump into the back of a truck with both feet at the same time. Facial hair looks stupid anyway. I don't want this to sound resentful, but I hope your beard someday grows so long that your face gets sucked into a wind turbine.