2011.11.23 I lead a dull life, subjectively speaking

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

There was a lot I needed to do this past weekend, but every now and then I wandered into the off-limits-to-company room where my computer (and the detritus of many decluttering-the-rest-of-the-house episodes) is located, to check e-mail and Facebook, or look up something on-line. 

One time I walked into that black hole and then walked back out, not remembering what I went in for. I got as far as the kitchen and saw the newspaper article I had cut out of Saturday’s Detroit Free Press.

“Shoot, that’s what I was going to do—write a column,” I said out loud.

“What do you have to write about?” David asked, a twinge of envy in his voice.

“Being dull,” I responded.

“Can I have half?” he asked.

Every other week David and I are in the same boat—looking for column material—and he hadn’t yet found his. Still, I couldn’t imagine what David would do with the topic. He’s one of the most interesting and quirky people I know. Never a dull moment with him around.

OK, that’s not altogether true. We’re both really quite boring: my mother told me so. When I first told her about David and all we had in common—“We don’t smoke or drink or do drugs, and we’re both vegetarians,”—her first comment was, “How boring! What do you do?”

I’d say we mostly sit around and read, but occasionally we do things like rake leaves and walk around in circles at the track. Yup, pretty boring. But that doesn’t really bother me. However, it sure did  when I read Carolyn Hax’s advice column  in the Detroit Free Press about someone else being called dull.

I love Carolyn Hax. She’s level-headed, doesn’t beat around the bush, and always gets right to the heart of the matter. She doesn’t provide advice so much as she lays out the issues and gives her opinion on the matter. But at the same time, she makes people think and come to their own conclusions.

This past weekend there was the sad letter from a woman asking what she could do about being dull. Apparently someone told her she was dull to be around and just dull in general. She knew she wasn’t exciting, but hadn’t realized that she was so boring. 

The woman has concluded they are right...she doesn’t have an interesting job or hobbies, “or anything really provocative or humorous to say to anyone.” Now, she says, she understands why friends rarely call or call back.

“Dullness is purely subjective, so there’s just no broad application to be made of one person’s harsh opinion of you,” Carolyn responded after wondering if “dull” was a direct quote from someone (...your problem might just be a friend with a mean streak”) or the woman’s spin on things.

If the latter, Carolyn suggested the woman see where she could liven things up—to please herself, not others.

The column is based on internet chats so Carolyn routinely includes comments made by her followers. One thanked her for pointing out that dullness is a subjective assessment and commented, “Some people sparkle, and some of us are, well, matte finish.”

Yet another said, “Don’t waste any energy trying to become exciting enough to suit your current friends. Find friends who treasure you for who you are.”

I don’t know if my friends treasure me for being dull, but I sure appreciate them—not only do they sparkle, but they’re brilliant. Just the other night my friend Adrienne called and gave me the greatest Thanksgiving advice ever. 

I was multi-tasking while talking to her—hacking away with a fork, a knife, and a sturdy metal spatula at the hard-as-rock bread I had toasted in the oven the night before. I was making quite a racket.

“What the [heck] are you doing, Leddy?!”

“I’m breaking up the toast for stuffing,“ I told her. “I know it would be easier to just break it with my hands, but I did that one year and the toast just sucked all the moisture out of my fingers. It was such a horrible feeling, I don’t want to do that again.”

“Well, why didn’t you just cut it into cubes in the first place?” she asked.

What a concept! I’m so excited and energized by that idea, I can’t wait to try it next Thanksgiving.

Yup, I lead a dull life.

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