2011.11.23 I lead a dull life, subjectively speaking

Written by David Green.


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.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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