Can and can’t friends are simpatico

I can’t strike a match on the back of the thigh of my Levis or light one with my thumbnail. I can’t spit, not a drop or a pit or a watermelon seed without needing a drool bucket. My “I can’t” list is long and actually quite impressive. I can’t saw a straight line with a hand saw. I can’t even make a good-to-the-last-drop pot of coffee. With all the wonderful things I can’t do how in the world, of the green, green grass of home have I been able to reach my age — of maturity?

Take the spitting for instance. Over the years my husband has given it the old college try in trying to teach me to spit. He’s a good spitter. Not that he does it regularly, but when push comes to shove, he can spit with the best of them. Calmly he shows me how to hold watermelon seeds in my mouth, and then somehow I’m to force air out with the seed to cause it to fly into the atmosphere in such an arc a fully arched rainbow would blush with new brighter colors. So I hold the seed on the inside of my lips, get a burst of air ready to let’er go. Grandly with all the finesse of a teething slobbering baby I send out a deluge of air and spit liquid. And the seed drops on the ground in front of me usually not even making it past the end of my shoe. So when I say I can’t spit, I say it with pride. I can’t spit, really, really well.

It’s important to know there will always be can and can’t friends in life. Just like my spitting ability, I know a lady who can’t throw a ball. Not she throws like a girl. She can’t throw a ball, at all. (Hey, a rhyme!) When she’s asked to toss something, those of us who know her automatically duck. Who knows where the object will land, but we all know pretty well established from past experiences it will not land where her intentions go. But that’s on her can’t list. It makes her throwing capacity endearing to her. But she can sew; she put new pockets in my overalls!

Of course on the other hand, and raise your hand if you know this person, is there someone within your life travels who touts they can do everything? Climb a mountain, forge a river, or split an atom. Maybe even spit like a pro. Why is it an “I can do it all” attitude is so important? I get the insecurity of wanting to fit in. I even get the notion knowledge is power. But, too much power, like too much garlic, puts people off. Makes them take a step back away from you saying, “Whew!” I’m pretty sure you know what I mean here. It’s the old, been there, done that, thingy.

I’m happy to know people who can do things. Don’t get ahead of me here, there’s a line between knowing something and knowing everything. I have a bag of go-to people in my life who can do great things. And in the course of life I call on them. I have a physicians’ assistant friend who can answer my middle-of-the-night medical questions; he also knows cars, but I bet he can’t bake a cake and decorate it to look like Mickey Mouse like me. I know a great plumber who will help me if I need it, but I bet he can’t do a French braid like me. Actually maybe he can, he used to “do” hair. But I bet he can’t whip up a quart Roquefort dressing from scratch like me. These are just two of my go-to angels I unabashedly call when I need help, and I trust they know they can come to me for things I can do too. But now they know not to come to me if they need a fourth participant for a spitting team.

When you meet someone who can’t do something it’s a whole new ballgame. I like to know you can’t lift 200 pounds, neither can I. Huh, we have something in common. I admire you tell me you can’t make a great cup of hot cocoa. I can’t make toast without burning the edges. We are simpatico. Toast and hot cocoa go together like cat and nip.

So let’s get out there and be the kind of “can’t” friends we need to be with each other. What, I wonder, can’t you do?

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at


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