Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being Boring

This morning, while continuing to read Ian McEwan's “Sweet Tooth, I came across a passage that......like........spoke to me.

Serena is visiting her mother and father over Christmas, as also is her sister, Lucy, with her (Lucy's) boyfriend, Luke. One evening after supper Serena joins Lucy and Luke for a stroll outside.
.....I wanted to tell Lucy about him [Tom]. I would have loved a sisterly session. We occasionally managed one, but set between us now was Luke's giant form and he was doing that inexcusable thing that men who liked cannabis tended to do, which was to go on about it – some famous stuff from a village in Thailand, the terrifying near-bust one night, the view across a certain holy lake at sunset under the influence, a hilarious misunderstanding in a bus station and other stultifying anecdotes. What was wrong with our generation? Our parents had the war to be boring about. We had this.

After a while we girls fell completely silent while Luke, in elated urgent terms, plunged deeper into the misapprehension that he was interesting, that we were enthralled. And almost immediately I had a contrary insight. I saw it clearly. Of course. Lucy and Luke were waiting for me to leave so they could be alone. That's what I would have wanted, if it had been Tom and me. Luke was deliberately and systematically boring me to drive me away. It was insensitive of me not to have noticed. Poor fellow, he was having to overreach himself and it was not a good performance, hopelessly overdone. No one in real life could be as boring as this. But in his round-about way he was only trying to be kind......
Was, though, Luke being deliberately boring, or was he just naturally boring? I, for what it's worth, have always found the Anecdote, regardless of what it's about, to be stultifyingly boring. And it's almost always a man who is the teller of the Anecdote. Why is this, I always stop to wonder. 


  1. Is it usually men who tell anecdotes? Maybe you're right.

    Let me tell you something irritating about women, though. They form insipid book clubs where all energy is directed at preparing thematically coordinated treats (It's "A Year in Provence," so we'll be having croissants and cafe au lait!), and where most of the participants don't manage to read the book because Trevor (He's very musical!) had his first cello concert this month so I just had no me-time at all, and where the (poorly) chosen book barely intrudes on the endless talk, talk, talk.

    That's a somewhat anecdotal way of saying that I appreciate that you like books and will talk about them. Thanks.

  2. Do you speak thus about book clubs out of personal experience?!!!

    What irritates me about many women is their habit of saying “I don't have time” whenever I recommend to them an article or book.

    The tone in which “I don't have time” is said, is a tacit reproach to me that I have too much time to do frivolous things, like reading articles and books, instead of having heroically to minister to a little Trevor.

    The truth is, they're simply not interested in reading the article or book. They prefer, when not heroically ministering to little Trevor, to watch television, that they contrive always to find the time for.