The Self-Proclaimed Expert

ExpertiseI was watching a car show the other day—as I’ve been known to do—and there was a guy who bought one of the original Bandit Trans Ams, which was in terrible condition when he bought it. Now beautifully restored, he was asked about who had done the work, and the owner said he’d done just about everything himself including painting the car black, which for those of you who don’t know, is by far the hardest color to get right. The slightest ding, dent, or wave will show in the highly reflective finish. Did he have previous body or paint experience? Heck no. He said he just did a lot of research and watched a lot of YouTube videos. I dig that!

So, I watch a lot of YouTube videos too, like those on rebuilding brakes, replacing shocks, recovering sofas, disassembling a washing machine, lawn maintenance, small engine repair, making custom car door panels, and how to do body work and paint. Those last two, I have not tried. . . but I just might. Anyway, after seeing this guy on TV, it dawned on me that I may already be an expert at many things. I mean, I can follow what’s going on, I can identify problems that affect the performance, I can comment on how to make it better, and most importantly, nobody has been around to check me on my observations and opinions. Here are some things that I am clearly an expert at, but you probably don’t know that, because I’ve never practiced them in public.

Structural Engineering—I’ve completely renovated four houses to include some foundation work, masonry, plumbing, electrical, framing, drywall, and finishing. But that’s nothing. Shows like This Old House and Holmes on Homes have taught me how to frame a new addition, replace a roof, install heating and air conditioning systems, and operate a crane. I’m also familiar enough with Canadian building codes to throw the red flag if I see something going wrong on TV, because many of the home improvement shows are filmed there. If you need me to slap a new garage or a couple of bedrooms on your vacation cottage in Toronto, just give me a call. I’ve never done this stuff, but I’m an expert nonetheless, eh?

Cooking—It’s just a matter of time before the networks contact me to film the pilot for a new series. We watch all the popular shows, like Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef, Masterchef Junior, Top Chef, America’s Next Food Network Star, and Chopped. I can easily spot when someone’s knife skills aren’t up to par, or when they’ve taken the chicken out of the pressure cooker too soon, or when they don’t have a proper sear on the steak, or when they’ve put the meat in the pan before the oil was heated. I mean really, who does that? And don’t even get me started on people who would use sauce out of a jar in a cooking competition.

Singing—I yell at the TV enough that these contestants ought to realize that I know what I’m talking about. He’s off pitch. She doesn’t have the range for that song. His arrangement of that song is terrible, and it’s definitely the wrong song for him anyway. Now, I know that I know what I’m talking about, because my words have been verified by the likes of Simon Cowell, Blake Shelton, Randy Jackson, and Alicia Keys. We’ve never actually spoken, but I’m sure they’d all verify my bona fides.

American Ninja Warrior—I know you’ll be surprised by this, but despite the fact that I have expert knowledge of the proper form to successfully navigate the ANW course, and that I am an amazing specimen of physical fitness, I have never actually done the ANW course. It’s true! But, while watching it on TV, I can easily spot when someone doesn’t have the proper grasp on the Rolling Barrel. I’ll call you out if you haven’t set the proper pace when going into the Floating Tiles. Once I’ve seen that you’ve lost that 90-degree bend at your elbows, I will confidently estimate when you will fall from the Monkey Pegs. And of course, if your steps are off, you’re never going to get enough speed to launch yourself to the top of the Warped Wall. I haven’t yet demonstrated my own prowess at navigating the course, but maybe one of these days.

Dancing—This one has taken a lot of time to develop, but I’m there now. When those amateurs perform on Dancing With the Stars, I will often point out those whose moves are not crisp enough, who are sliding their feet, not pointing their toes, not keeping their heads high, or who haven’t reached the full extension of their arms. Heck, I’m such an expert, I can even advise the judges on what score to give each contestant. Bruno and Julianne usually listen to me, and score appropriately. Len, however, likes to think he knows more than me, and usually scores the contestants lower. He’s so harsh.

The point of all this is not to brag. Uh. . . mmm-hmm. But, I think there is some level of confidence you can get from these shows and videos. In construction, I might encounter something new, and I’ll recall something from one of those shows and think, “Those guys used a laminated beam and some Narndle bolts in the same situation,” and then I’ll head off to the Depot for Narndle bolts. When it’s on me for dinner, I will sometimes try something I’ve seen on TV. I will even go to the store for ingredients. Specific ingredients! I’ll recall how the TV chefs did their thing, and try to emulate it.

For singing and dancing, you should be thankful that I’ll leave that to the actual experts. Oh, I might break into a goofy dance during the Big Bang Theory opening music, but that’s a different story. As for the American Ninja Warrior course, I’m pretty sure that I’d be wet after the first couple of those angled steps. If I managed to get past those, I’m sure I’d slide down the rope trying to swing onto the platform and smash my face against the edge, and then I’d be in the water. I could also be the first warrior to fall from the Salmon Ladder without ever moving it from the first notch.

Taking all these skills above into account, it’s hard for me to demonstrate my expertise by actually doing this stuff. But, from my couch, I’m killing it.

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