Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O'Brien


Harlequin series, Jaunty Post, Kathleen O'Brien, Our Books

LOL…no, not those facts! But now that I have your attention…

I recently finished the fourth book in my Bell River Ranch series, and the heroine, who is a gifted massage therapist, got me thinking about talent.

Everyone has a talent, thank goodness. But we all also have weak spots…things we’d love to be good at, but just aren’t.

For instance, I can’t sing.

dog singing istock

My sweet mother-in-law, a great believer in positive thinking, warned me never to say anything negative like that about myself. But I’m a great believer in facing the truth, and the truth is…wow. I really can’t sing.

This doesn’t make me feel like a failure. It doesn’t even keep me from singing with mad abandon—whenever I’m alone. Not being able to carry a tune is simply the luck of the draw. It’s not even as annoying as some of my other DNA glitches, like fine, straight hair and 20/400 vision. thick glasses

Besides, I’ve been aware of the singing problem since I was four, because that’s when I met my best friend, Celie. Celie has a beautiful voice. Right away I realized we weren’t hitting the same notes when we sang along to our favorite songs. Hers were the actual melody. Mine were sort of… free-form, impressionistic noise.

Kudos to her for never pointing that out or making me feel crummy about it.

In fact, the first time she ever mentioned the situation was quite by accident, when we were both grown and married with kids. Miraculously, both my children inherited their father’s lovely, accurate voice. One day, when Girlchild was about six, Celie heard her singing a silly Irish song called “Harrigan,” one of our childhood favorites.

“Awww, who taught you that song?” Celie asked fondly.

Girlchild smiled. “My mom.”

“Oh, yeah?” Celie looked perplexed. “But…who taught you the tune?”

And just in case I needed a refresher course in Reality, I got one the other night, right before Halloween. We had an awesome spider ready to hang by the front door. It was sound activated to descend ominously whenever a squealing trick-or-treater arrived. Unfortunately, only a particular high-pitched, horrible shriek could set it off. His Highness and I had thoroughly and hilariously tested that.

Big Spider

For the time being, though, Big Spider lay quietly on the kitchen island every day, watching us while we made sandwiches and took our vitamins. But then…one night, when I came in from my walk with my earbuds still in, still singing merrily along with Fun about how young we are tonight, guess what?

Yep. Big Spider went instantly into action, his fishing line extending with a panicked mechanical creak. He crawled halfway across the island before he ran out of line—and he probably thought that wasn’t nearly far enough!

So, there you go. Case closed. But hey, even if a career in opera is out for me, maybe I can help you get rid of your household pests. 😉

How about you? Is there some talent you wish you had…but simply don’t? Does it bother you?

My author copies of my December Superromance, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, have arrived, and I’ll send a free book to one random poster today!

39 thoughts on “The Facts of Life

  1. marypreston says:

    I would love to be able to draw. I seriously could not draw to save my life. It doesn’t really bother me, but it would be a fun talent to have.

    1. Mary, that would be a great talent to have! I don’t have it, but sometimes I dream that, with extensive training, I might be able to acquire even a tiny bit of it. With singing, for me, there’s just no way! 🙂

  2. Mary Anne Landers says:

    Thank you, Kathleen. I wish I had the talent to understand and work with today’s technology. Shucks, if wish I were a real computer geek, the kind of person I once made fun of. If I could make sense of all these hightech gadgets and programs, and keep up with the rapid pace of change, how much simpler, easier, and less aggravating my life would be!

    1. Mary Anne, you obviously have more of that talent than you give yourself credit for! Even if you secretly struggle, the end result is that you interact beautifully on many tech stages. Now, being one of the people who can actually create, manipulate and repair the technology…that would be truly awesome!

  3. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    I have always wished I was more coordinated. I’m an awful dancer. Forget gymnastics. I was never good at soccer or tennis. I do run, but I’ve fallen doing that (and have the scars to show for it!). My daughter, on the other hand, is way athletic and quite coordinated for her age. Thank goodness we don’t pass on everything to our children.

    1. It is really a relief, isn’t it, that our children aren’t doomed to our flaws? And I hear you about the running…I once broke my foot just walking the dog around the block. I think I’m a bit gifted that way. 😉

  4. Laurie W G says:

    I’ve always wanted to play the guitar and the piano. Unfortunately I have no sense of rhythm and I am tone deaf. I’d like to speak different foreign languages especially French and Spanish, but I haven’t been able to master that either even after 4 years of HS French.

    It doesn’t bother me but I think it would be fun to play an instrument, sing along and learn a foreign language.

    Unfortunately I can’t draw either.

    1. Laurie, my parents gave me piano lessons for years and years. My poor teacher! 🙂 Did you ever give the guitar a try? My son plays beautifully and keeps thinking he can teach me, but I’m literally hopeless. And you really hit the truth–it’s not that I *mind* the lack of talent. It’s just that it would be so much fun if I had it!

      1. Laurie W G says:

        I took piano and guitar lessons. I was awful at both.

  5. Katherine_Garbera Katherine_Garbera says:

    Kathleen–you are so talented in other ways that singing would have been too much. 🙂 I can’t sing, really, can’t, but I love it. And my parents used to encourage my sisters and I to sing all the time so we all do it with abandon whenever we can and usually to the great amusement of those around us.

    1. Katherine, <3! That's sooo not true, but so sweet! I really love singing and have a special love of music, too, which is why I'm quite sure the Fates meant to give me the singing gene and simply forgot at the last minute! You must not be as bad as I am if your parents encouraged it. The joke around my house is that every time I sat down to practice the piano my dad went out to take his nightly walk. 😉

  6. Linda Style says:

    I’m a huge music lover, so it’s singing for me, too. I would love to be able to sing like Whitney or Celine. I can carry a tune, but that doesn’t mean I sound good. The piano…would love to play like William Joseph. I had lessons as a teen, so I can read music…but can’t play a thing. Unless you count Heart and Soul…and Chop Sticks. 😉

    1. Linda, you’re lucky to hit the right notes! I’d settle for that! And laughing about the remnants of those piano lessons–Heart and Soul is the one I still know how to play, too! 🙂 A few years ago, I spent about a week ago trying to reteach myself a piano piece I used to play and finding it very hard. Then I looked up at the top of the page and realized it was something Mozart wrote when he was six! LOL…talk about humbling!

  7. Dyan Weissman Carness says:

    I would love to be a good dancer! My husband and I always do the stand and shuffle when we need to dance in public. But, I guess I don’t want it enought, since I haven’t signed up for lessons. 🙂

    1. Dyan, do you watch Dancing With the Stars? I always think I want dance lessons when I’m watching a season of those gorgeous costumes, great music and lovely moves. Then I wake up. 😉

      1. Dyan Weissman Carness says:

        That’s me exactly! I figure when I have a body that would work in one of those costumes, then I will take up the dancing!

  8. Kristan Higgins Kristan Higgins says:

    Poor Kathleen! How dare the spider go off when you were singing! Hmmph! Let’s see…I’d love to be able to draw, too, I guess. Stick figures and I have a long, enduring relationship…I never got past that. I’d also like to be able to do a flip, but I don’t see that ever happening without a trip to the ER.

    1. Kristan, you won’t trade one measly trip to the ER for the glory of doing a flip? 😉 Neither would I. And hey, lots of cartoonists have made fortunes with stick figures. I say it’s all in the eyes and hair…just like real life!

  9. girlygirlhoosier52 says:

    Able to dance, and I had lessons as a child… but still can’t do it.. I’m worse than 2 left feet.

    1. Girlygirl, I’m pretty awful at dancing, too. I had a brief stint as a ballet student, but I think the instructor must have given my folks a private lesson on finances, and how to tell a good investment from a doomed one. 😉

  10. jcp says:

    I can’t sing.

    1. JCP, I hope it doesn’t stop you from doing it! 🙂 Here’s my favorite tip: I turn the car stereo up so loudly that I can’t hear myself. That way, whatever I feel as if whatever beautiful sound comes out of the radio is really me! 🙂

  11. catslady says:

    Oh, I so love your sense of humor. You really had me lol. I totally lack a sense of direction which partly gave me my fear of certain driving. I know they have GPS’s now but it’s too late for me. I honestly can get lost almost anywhere.

    1. Catslady, maybe that’s not all bad… I bet you have some unexpected adventures when you end up in the wrong places! 🙂 Why not call it the scenic route and go with it? 😉

  12. Crystal Broyles says:

    I wish could be a good decoratator and be good at making crafts.

    1. Wouldn’t that be fabulous, Crystal? I’m always looking enviously at my Pinterest friends who are super crafty. Sometimes I even try to copy their work, and the results are hilarious!

  13. Crystal Broyles says:

    I wish I was a good decorator and skilled at making crafts.

  14. Jesse Hayworth Jesse Hayworth says:

    ROFLOLOL! I love the spider, Kathleen. Most awesome.

    Me? I have zero sense of direction. To the point that even if I try to do the opposite of what my gut says, figuring it’ll be right, it’s still wrong (or left?).

    Fun post!

    1. Love the idea of using your gut as a reverse barometer! (Wow, the ways in which I mixed those metaphors are pretty spectacular!) You and Catslady should definitely take a road trip. I bet you guys would find some fabulous out-of-the-way places…quite by accident!

  15. Karen Johnston says:

    I actually have two. I wish I could sing…my daughter and my niece can sing like angels! And I sooo can not!! lol And Ive always wished I could draw. My husband can draw anything! Our granddaughter loves to play with him while with me, Im like look baby! A circle! lol

    1. Karen, drawing a circle is MUCH harder than people think. 😉 It’s lovely, though, to have talents in the family, isn’t it? The thwarted singer in me loves nothing more than listening to my kids sing–and when they sing together it’s heaven! I know you must love listening to your daughter and niece, too.

  16. Mia Marlowe Mia Marlowe says:

    I’d love to be incredibly fit–an aerobic dynamo. Alas, I have a lung condition that limits my work outs to walking the dogs. On the plus side, Harry and Mack are totally ok with not jogging.

    1. Love Harry and Mack, who clearly have the right idea about life! If you jog, how can you sniff every square inch of neighborhood? But I know what you mean. I’d love to be hooked on exercise, instead of on BLT sandwiches. 😉

  17. Vanessa Kelly Vanessa Kelly says:

    Kathleen, I too have a tuneless, screechy voice – like my father. My mother had a beautiful voice, and had a bit of an amateur singing career. Musical talent is something I wish I had – or an athletic talent. I’d love to be a world class runner instead of a world class klutz!

    1. Vanessa, isn’t it strange how the gene for singing can skip some people in a family while it chooses others? Luckily, your mother obviously didn’t mind, because she chose your dad. If she’d wanted a perfectly pure gene pool, she would have married another singer! 😉 (Although…I wonder if even that could guarantee anything?)

  18. Virginia says:

    Remember you are not alone, I am the same way. I have never been able to sing or hold a tune. I don’t have any talent at all I think. Can’t dance either.

    1. Virginia, it seems unkind, but I actually *am* relieved to learn how many others are in my shoes. We should form our own chorus, don’t you think? We might be ground-breaking, very avant garde. We could say we’re the Jackson Pollock version of singing…we just spray notes around until something sounds good. 😉

  19. Marcy Shuler says:

    I wish I could dance. I don’t have the confidence to just get up there and try it without feeling like I’d be Elaine Benes from Seinfeld. :/

    1. LOL, Marcy! That’s hilarious! Elaine is a hoot!

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