There are some things in life that don't seem like any sort of challenge. But quicker than Wayne Rooney changes his mind they can turn into a horrifying experience. Or they just turn out to be tricky, such as:
18/ Paying your girlfriend a compliment
You look really nice in that… “What do you mean by that?” You know, nice. “Nice?” Yeah, like, pretty… “I don’t want to be ‘pretty’, you should think I’m sexy.” I do. You do look sexy! “So you’re saying I’m cheap?”
17/ Basic maths
You got a more than respectable B in maths GCSE, yet since you’ve less need to worry about and ‘early finish’ to intimacy these days, you now have no use for times tables. Which means even splitting the bill at Pizza Express proves harder than quantum string theory.
16/ A smooth entrance to a swimming pool
Just point your arms, feet together, spring forward with the knees and enter with… all the elegance of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor on a wet bouncy castle.
15/ Staying awake past midnight
It’s pointless. Nothing brilliant happens after midnight. If you’re out, someone will be sick, a girl will cry and you might think it’s a good idea to dance. If you’re at home, the only thing on is period dramas for the deaf. Who cares if nobody invites you out anymore when you can fall asleep on the sofa with the new Tom Clancy stuck to your face.
14/ Buying jeans
You’re not a lady. You’re not worried about anything accentuating your fat bum. You’re a man, this will be easy. And it is easy, as long as you’re only after something you can’t pull past your calves or that makes you look like an outdoor pursuits instructor from the ’70s who was later found guilty of interfering with kids.
13/ Public speaking
Around your friends you’re a great conversationalist. Faced with a group of strangers, like the half-cut room you’re telling your ‘year in the making’ best man’s speech to, it’s a different story. The penny drops that it’s not going well when you find yourself having an out of body experience and see yourself using the gravy to black up for one of your ‘bits’.
12/ Shaving your own head
Plug the clippers in, grade two, attack from the front, accidentally carve a swastika in the back, leave tufts behind your ears, slash your bald patch wide open and you’re out on the town looking like Charles Manson after he’s been dismembered and stitched back together by a blind child.
11/ Keeping plants alive
All they need is water and sunlight. That’s what biology and Titchmarsh say. So why does the basil have leprosy? What’s the deal with the house plant looking like a fish skeleton? And why the hell has that amazing ornamental tree in the garden started to smell like spunk?
10/ Ironing a shirt
You think it’s finished, then you hold it up to reveal more creases than Pat Butcher’s face. The arms are always the hardest; ironing one side makes the other even worse. Then you burn yourself. Then you cry. Then your tears steam the shirt. If you’re lucky then your mum takes over.
9/ Calming an angry cat
You’ve opened a tin of the pricey cat food, spent 15 minutes working the ‘sweet spot’ behind the ears, and only now is the little shit starting to look at you with any amount of affection. And that’s when the attack comes, not from the front, but from the side, from the other two cats you didn’t even know were there… who also want a cuddle.
8/ Making sandwiches that taste like the ones in the shops
Sandwich maker: “Dude, it’s easy. Bread, mayo, bacon, lettuce, tomato. Bam! Just like Tesco.” Sandwich eater: “Tastes weird. Flavourless. Piggy.” Maker: “Any suggestions?” Eater: “Here, use this. Sodium nitrate.” Maker: “What does it do?” Eater: “Makes stuff taste like seawater siphoned through a cat litter tray.” Maker: “Delicious.”
7/ Pentrating a woman smoothly
Without having to feed it in like a magician pushing silk scarves into a clenched fist.
6/ Undoing a bra
The longer this takes, the harder it gets. Plus, if you started with one hand, bringing in the other shows you’re struggling. Worse still, she’ll just lay there motionlessly, judging you, losing interest by the second, before… Bam! She’s whipped it off and has effortlessly slipped into a shapeless T-shirt/trackie combo and is calling you a taxi.
5/ Throwing a punch
Raising your arms and saying the immortal words: “Come on then” was a mistake. Landing the first punch was good; unfortunately it was the sort of limp slap someone would expect from an affronted aristocrat’s glove. Oh well, best cover your face and hope the plastic surgeons don’t leave you looking like you’ve been attacked by a chimp.
4/ Flat pack furniture
It has instructions, after all. Step-by-step guidelines so simple a smashed crab should be able to build it. Look – there’s the big 1. And the bi… blow me, this is boring. I mean, how many sides can a piece of wood have? (Fast-forward 30 sweating, swearing, glue-spilling, minutes) “A bookcase?! No darling, it’s an angled, timber, room divider with holes for extra aero-dynamicity.”
3/ Finding a girlfriend
Three billion women on the planet and you can’t bag one. Hmm, it’s almost undoubtedly your standards. Or the fact that you still consider lifting the covers for a crafty guff as being chivalrous.
2/ Smiling in photos
They wanted a warm grin for the family album, but no matter what you try – laughing, pulling faces or even staring blankly – it always comes across as an unsettlingly pervy leer. A gurning pill-head chewing their upper lip could make a better Kodak moment.
Will the determination not to be beaten get overruled by a desire not to be found curled up on the floor with soiled pants and two dislocated shoulders? Only time and the tensile strength of the door frame will tell.