Sunday, January 9, 2011


While I'm constantly looking for things that add challenge and stimulation to my life, there is a tedious and growing collection of individuals who would rather discuss paper clips, tie collections, bus routes, or the patterns on their wallpaper.

In London, a group of boredom zealots recently attended a conference called, “Like Listening To Paint Dry.” The inert audience seemed listlessly transfixed as the tiresome narrator, a Mr. Barrett, droned on about the 415 colors in a paint catalog.

“It is quintessentially English to look at something dull as dishwater and find it interesting,” said a Mr. Thompson, who claimed to be mesmerized by the evening's lack of excitement.

For seven hours, surprisingly few nodded off as speaker after speaker covered a dreary range of subjects with just the right amount of apathy.

Included among the night's topics were: “Reflections on the English breakfast,” “The joy of warm beer,” and “Pondering doorknobs.”

Now the boredom craze has spread to America. In fact, there is currently a “Boring Institute” in South Orange, New Jersey. On opening night, pens, the letter x, and electric sockets were discussed at great length.

But the highlight of the evening occurred when a young woman brought in and shared photographs she had taken of random marks left on walls, and of chewing gum stuck under school desks and park benches.

It's quite obvious to me, and it should be to you, that the bores are satisfied with the life they've chosen. They can spend hours with a good friend without exchanging a syllable. And they are completely at ease in the peace and silence of a crowded elevator.

With an increasingly complex world that is changing gears at an alarming rate, the practitioners of boredom pride themselves on keeping things simple.

They don't obsess over Facebook, Twitter, crooked politicians, sobbing politicians, Wall Street avarice, Wikileak updates, airport pat-downs, lawbreaking athletes, escalating rudeness, unworkable diets, screaming commercials, or the absurdity of 5-day forecasts.

It just might be that the bores among us are onto something that the rest of us, in our ceaseless quest for information, have completely overlooked.

On the other hand, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that some marbles could be missing. Or that the marriage of first cousins might be a factor.