Bruce Watson: Between you and me: ennui
LEVERETT — Longtime readers — thanks to both of you — know that I long ago declared August to be National Boredom Month. But this year, my annual celebration of sloth takes one small step for man.
Last year, you yawned when National Boredom Month went global. Seemed it wasn’t just Americans who fell out of hammocks in August. The French celebrated ennui by driving en masse north from the Mediterranean to resume their jobs on Aug. 12. Italians stopped what they were NOT doing, rounded up all 27 million tourists in Florence and shipped them to Spain where boredom is the same, only hotter. And England — well, England. ...
But this year, one giant leap has taken National Boredom Month across the universe. It started last week when the anniversary of the Mars Discovery Lander showed the robot roaming the red planet in search of something — anything. And guess what? Nothing! Not even the NFL pre-season.
Now you’d think folks as smart as the NASA crowd would know that Mars empties out each August. Everyone heads for Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, the one with beaches and boogie boards. But martian boredom seemed to take NASA by surprise.
So won’t NASA be surprised to learn how boring the rest of the universe becomes in August? Now that International Boredom Month is Inter-galactic Boredom Month, the numbing stupor of the universe has led to a search for intelligent life in August.
August on Jupiter isn’t much different than here. Everyone goes to the red spot. Bills go unanswered, everyone spends hours on their smartphones, and the smallest creatures are crushed by the planet’s awesome gravity. Same old, same old. That’s why the richest folks on Jupiter head for the rings of Saturn.
But are they ever surprised. Because Saturn’s August is so slow that even the rings stop spinning. Search for intelligent life and all you’ll find are oddly shaped creatures pretending to read the latest Dan Brown. Kind of like the Cape, though the creatures there are more oddly shaped and many have e-readers so you can’t tell what mind-sucking novel they’re pretending to read.
This August, rumor had it that all the action was taking place at a little nightspot near the Pleiades. But from Earth you can’t even see the Pleiades in August, so it was hard for NASA to tell. The search continued.
The Andromeda Galaxy has always been the universe’s most notorious fun zone but when NASA turned its telescopes on the swirling gas spiral, all they saw was the usual August fare. Teens zoned out on Facebook. Families suffering through another round of mini-golf. Creatures comparing the latest apps. Oh, and some guy with a guitar was playing “Stairway to Heaven.”
Back on Mars, meanwhile, Discovery discovered — NOTHING! Not a party, not a poker game, not even a book group.
So it was back into space, this time searching where no August had gone before — anti-boredom. Yes, just like anti-matter, NASA scientists have discovered anti-boredom. Consisting mostly of good books, weekends in exotic places, and the type of intelligent movie you only see at Christmas, anti-boredom does exist in August. Somewhere.
The trick is to find it without coughing up the life savings August demands to take you somewhere interesting. Once you find anti-boredom, dive in and re-grow your mind. But be careful! Just one drop of anti-boredom — some deep novel, indie film or Tolstoy quote — if brought back to these parts in August, would react with ambient boredom. And, like matter reacting with anti-matter, the explosion would destroy the Earth! Then there would be nothing, nothing but August.
Bruce Watson’s column appears twice a month. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.