Friday Free for all #41: Weird talents, unsettling objects, and memorized songs and jokes

The next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here’s this week’s question. Feel free to give your own answers in the comments.

What weird or useless talent do you have?

Other than playing the accordion, the one bizarre natural talent I have is the ability to move either of my ears, together or independently. It’s not a huge distance but it is noticeable, and I assume it to be some atavistic trait.

I also have incredible control over my eyebrows, which I can raise or arch, again in sync or independently. I actually use those a lot to express disdain, doubt, or surprise wordlessly, and they are very useful as we’re all interacting while masked.

What songs have you completely memorized?

Number one, probably all the same ones everyone in Western culture has — all the Christmas carols and traditional songs which are so ingrained in us that if one person starts singing in a room, everybody joins in.

Number two, a ton of musical theatre songs, of course, from shows like Cabaret, Evita, Chess, Little Shop, Chicago, Assassins, and so on, as well as every musical I’ve ever performed in or played an instrument for.

Number three, it goes without saying that it’s a legal requirement to know Bohemian Rhapsody by heart.

Number four, though, is my “karaoke surprise,” that is the song that I’d pull out if the opportunity ever came up to impress the hell out of people as the tall white guy proceeds to belt out a number in Spanish, and that song is Si no te hubieras ido.

It was written by Marco Antonio Solis but, ironically, his version is pretty bland and boring. I prefer the much more rocking cover by Maná. And yes, even at this ballad tempo, it’s much more lively than the Solis version.

What would be the most unsettling thing to keep occasionally finding around your house?

There are so many possibilities for this one. Since I live alone, strangers would be one. Since my last surviving dog died six months ago, finding her toys and stuff moved around would also be unsettling.

Random notes not in my handwriting would be another creepy thing, like a Post-It on the bathroom mirror every morning with something cryptic — and not even necessarily threatening or creepy. A message as simple as, “Perfect toast is hard to make” would be completely unsettling in that context.

Probably most unsettling, though, would be the sudden random appearance of former possessions of mine that I know for a fact are long gone, either due to being given away, thrown out, or left behind in a move.

Not that I’d mind at all in some cases — there are a couple of pieces of clothing that I regret forgetting to bring with me in a move; a bookshelf worth of language and resource references that I gave away before one move because I thought, “This is all on the internet now”; and a necklace that was a sterling silver pyramid with a glass eye in it that I could have sworn I brought and which is somewhere in this apartment, but in over thirteen years, I still haven’t found it.

Now, if a lot of my childhood toys started showing up in mint condition, while the “how” of it would be unsettling, it would otherwise be an eBay goldmine.

But in either case with this and the previous paragraph, it would just leave me wondering whether there weren’t some weird universal space where all of my lost or abandoned stuff went to wait for me, including all of the sox that driers have eaten and all of the pens I’ve lost.

Maybe that’s what heaven really is. You get there and they take you to this huge warehouse then give you the keys and you find a locker with all the shit you ever owned in it. Only maybe sometimes it leaks.

2020 would be the kind of year that shit would start leaking in. Of course.

What’s the funniest joke you know by heart?

Having once been a thirteen-year-old boy, I’ve memorized many a joke in my day. Those things were schoolyard currency, and the guy who could tell the most (and filthiest) jokes won the badge of Cool Dude.

Some I’ve forgotten, some are only worthy of being told by thirteen-year-old boys, and some are just so wrong that they’re best left buried in the less aware past. I still know plenty of jokes, but the one that came to mind when I read the question goes like this… albeit updated a bit for modern times.

These two brothers, Tom and Dick, have decided to go into the gig economy as delivery drivers, so they need to get a car. Their hopes are soon dashed, though, when all of the new car dealers tell them their credit isn’t good enough, and they could never afford the payments anyway.

They hit up all the used car lots, and it’s the same thing. Sure, they’re looser on the credit, but the payments are still huge. Desperate, they come to the final used car lot and explain their story. The salesman takes sympathy on them.

“Look,” he says, “I don’t have a car on the lot you can afford, but I do have a camel.”

The brothers are dubious, but the dealer takes them over to have a look. “Its feed is actually cheaper than gas,” he explains, “And it’s fully trained. It stops at red lights and goes at greenlights, and you may not think it, but camels can actually run pretty fast.”

“How much?” the brothers ask, and the salesman tells them. It’s right in their price range.

“Here, take her for a test-drive,” the salesman says, and he shows them how to get into the saddle and how to steer with the harness. The camel pulls out of the lot and then into traffic and takes off, and it is fast.

It keeps up with traffic and stops at the red lights and goes at the green, and the brothers are both thinking, “This is the greatest thing ever. It’ll make us stand out as delivery drivers.”

Back at the lot, the salesman waits for them to come back. Half an hour. An hour. Ninety minutes. After two hours, finally hops in his car and heads down the road in the direction the brothers went.

He finds them a couple of miles down the road, sitting on the curb crying. The camel is nowhere in sight.

“What happened?” he asks.

“Oh, it was great,” Tom says. “Obeyed all the lights, kept up with traffic.”

“We were sold in a block,” Dick adds. “This camel is better than any car.”

“But then we stopped at a light, and we heard somebody shout,” Tom continued.

“Hey — check out the two assholes on that camel,” Dick said.

“So,” Tom explained, “We got down and went around back to have a look, the light turned green, and she took off without us.”

(Ba-dum-tish!)