My quest for boredom

I no longer have any friends. Oh, I still have people I consider friends in the technical sense but my social life has been nonexistent for going on five years now. Of course, with as much gas as I pass, that may be a good thing.

I mean, up until yesterday, I had nearly 550 “friends” but I decided to delete everyone off my Facebook account who I don’t personally know or interact with for work purposes.

I trimmed the list down to 97 people—that includes a few dozen family members, a dozen or so work colleagues, assorted acquaintances and the 13 people who bought a copy of my last book. (Take that, Stephen King!)

Truth is, I haven’t hung out with, or even talked to, any of my real friends in years. Most of them live hundreds of miles away. They’re busy. I’m busy. And, what with me being a reclusive workaholic and all, who can find the time? I wish I had time to be bored.

Nonetheless, I am addicted to Facebook and I’m trying to figure out a way to break the habit. I must check it every ten minutes from the time I awaken at 6 a.m. until I pass out from exhaustion at 1:30 the next morning.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this many years to figure it out but those social networks just seem to be catering to people’s most narcissistic, self-indulgent and overall worst behaviors. And that’s not good for a self-indulgent narcissist like me.

Before I cleaned house on the friends list, I knew a woman who divided her time equally between swearing about how rotten her kids were and praising them for being the most wonderful offspring in the Midwest.

I had one “friend” who chastised me for mentioning one too many times (I think I might have brought it up twice) that I had gone vegetarian, but he can’t seem to go five minutes without reminding everyone on the internet that he had toe cancer once and that he is indeed a hero for having contracted the awful disease.

Then there are the people posting pictures of their dinner, breakfast, snacks—injuries.

My goodness, I’ve seen people’s bleeding, pus-filled, bruised and contused bodies. Why are people sharing this stuff?

It’s like soft-core porn for idiots. I mean, I’ve always tended to over-share information about myself throughout my life but that’s because I’m a jackass, and I’m usually doing it to try and make people laugh. (Why is it better to be a narcissistic attention whore in a book than on social media? I don’t know. It just is.)

How did it get like this?

This kind of thing didn’t exist when I was a kid, and thank Gene Roddenberry that it didn’t.

I can’t imagine what kind of self-serving, socially retarded, mean-spirited, arrogant little pricks it would have made of my generation—oh, wait, I don’t have to imagine.

There is something inherently messed up about a species that feels the need to share its every thought, word, and entrée with the rest of the planet.

Of course, even most of those pathetic losers still lead much more exciting lives than I do. After all, you’d think that having nobody to hang out with would have increased my chances of finding hobbies. It hasn’t.

I can’t remember where I was when my fun clutched its chest and fell down the basement stairs. I think it was sometime in my late 20s.

Regardless, it’s been a good long while since I’ve done anything enjoyable outside of eating Taco Bell.

I didn’t used to be like this.

There was a time when I played poker with the fellas, went camping*, cycled and did all sorts of other activities. (*Camping has to go in the same category as mushrooms. I used to eat them. I thought I liked them. Then, after like 35 years of swallowing the slug-like fungus I realized I had been tolerating them when in reality I loathed the nasty little suckers.)

The moral of the story: screw mushrooms and camping!

My lack of hobbies is only exacerbated (I love that word, and not just because it sounds like “masturbated.”) by the fact that I don’t leave my house—ever.

Mercifully, my job allows me to work from home. This gives me the freedom to explore the hermit lifestyle in all its shut-in, pasty-skinned glory but it also makes relaxation a challenge.

Try to picture working 100 hours-a-week in your office, then punching the clock and continuing to sit in your office.

OK, so my office has a bed and cable and a store a mile away that delivers pizza and beer. (Hey, that’s big doins out here in the country.)

Once upon a time I enjoyed shooting—targets and clay pigeons, not crowded shopping malls—and collecting and working on classic cars, until that became too expensive.

Lately I’ve been thinking about taking up painting. I took a bunch of art classes in high school. Not just for the easy credits—for the easy credits and the fact that the art teacher let us listen to heavy metal in class and go out into the parking lot to have a cigarette.

I was never much good but neither were Pollack or Picasso and look where it got them. (Wait, didn’t they die miserable and broke?)

One time I worked really hard and came up with an oil painting of a big yellow moon behind a creature that appeared to be half bat and half rabbit.

My friends donned it “Bat Bunny.” It was creepy but kind of cool in a Donnie Darko kind of way. I miss Bat Bunny.

I’m willing to try just about anything that doesn’t involve leaving the house.

That being said, there are a great number of activities I would never attempt, even if I were wont to venture from my cave.

Lucky for you I have listed some of them below. (I do plan to give drunken Jenga a try.)

Skydiving

I have been on a plane exactly four times in my life. They were the jets that took me from Auburn, Michigan, to Seattle, Washington, and back again during winter break of 1992.

This trip taught me a few valuable lessons: airplane food is only bad if you’ve never been really poor.

I can’t remember what I ate but I do remember thinking that people must have been greatly exaggerating their in-flight mealtime woes; I also remember that trying to charge me $7 for earphones to listen to the crappy in-flight movie, after they charged $400-and-some for the ticket, was a pure dick move.

Of course, back in 1992, we didn’t use the term “dick move” so I probably thought it was “bogus” or “not righteous” or that maybe it “reeked.”

I also remember thinking, as I dangled my feet from my seat for four-and-a-half hours because I was convinced I would fall through the floor if I put them down, that man should really only fly for one of the following good reasons:

• A considerably large person tosses a considerably smaller person clad in Velcro against a wall also covered in Velcro

• A fat man is shot out of a cannon toward a pyramid of pies

• Children wearing garbage bags as capes jump off a roof

• Superman doing Superman things

• You are riding an atom bomb that has been dropped over a major Russian city

Reasons I could not sky dive:
• Fear of a fatal terror-induced mid-air heart attack
• Too fat for parachute
• Too fat for plane
• If I did manage to go up and jump and survive the ordeal, I wouldn’t be able to stop screaming—ever! Hell, I’m screaming right now just thinking about it. Will someone please slap me!?!

Golf — I’ve only gone a few times but it was evident from the first rotator cuff injury that it’s just not the game for me.

For starters, the walking—oh the endless endless walking—gives a new meaning to the word tedious. (OK, I guess it still has the same meaning but man that’s a lot of walking.)

And then there are the slowpokes. Folks who seem to be more interested in chatting about how they golfed last weekend—you know, when nobody else was around and they shot a hundred under par—than actually whacking some balls. (Hey, if that sounds dirty it’s only because you’re a degenerate. It’s OK, some of my best friends are degenerates, ya pervert.) Worst of all is that damnable windmill.

Hunting — Now that I’m a half-assed vegetarian, hunting is out. I guess the agoraphobia pretty much fixed that one but I had to give a half-assed shout out to my vegetarian peeps. (“Peeps?” Did I use that word correctly? All I know is I saw someone on Keeping Up With The Kardashians say it and it sounded cool.)

Anyway, my dad taught me how to hunt beginning the winter when I was nine years old.

Hunting when you’re nine means munching on a frozen bologna sandwich your mom stuffed in your pocket while sitting in the snow against a tree after your father tells you to sit still and shut up.

I’m not sure of all the mechanics but it seems that you then return four hours later, breath smelling like rotten apple cider and mysteriously light the deer.

The first and only time I ever went deer hunting as an adult was in 1997, when a friend and I decided we would become big time he-men that were going to fill our freezers with meat.

We spent the summer building a portable deer blind which we hauled some 200-plus miles to my grandparents’ wooded property in a remote location in Northern Michigan.

We set the blind up a few dozen yards from the kill zone. We even visited several times throughout the late summer and early fall to replenish the bait pile.

“Bait pile?” you say.

Perhaps I should explain Michigan deer hunting to those of you who don’t live next door to the Waltons.

Step 1 – dump a bunch of fruit, vegetables and salt in a pile roughly the size of a ‘78 Buick Le Sabre in the middle of the woods. This used to be legal (I think the salt lick part was a no-no) but then they outlawed bait but then they changed the law saying you could only use so much, like a pail full. I’m not sure if they define the word “pail” but judging by the size of the bags of carrots and beets for sale at the up north gas stations, the pails are also the size of a ‘78 Buick Le Sabre.

Step 2 – Put on camouflage pants, camouflage shirt, camouflage boots, camouflage paint on your face … and a bright orange hat on your head to let the other hunters know not to shoot you. This step is very important because every good hunter knows that just about everything—from water heaters to the duck-billed platypus—starts to look like a whitetail around deer season. (Sorry, “whitetail” is a kind of deer, not slang for Caucasian trim.)

Step 3 – Douse yourself with copious amounts of deer pee. The mere sight of you with that bottle of pungent sauce will have them jumping for joy and approaching you with lust in their eyes. And if it works that good on the deer pee salesmen, just think what the deer will do.

Step 4 – Smoke cigars, eat pickled meats and drink beer while compulsively checking your weapon to be sure it’s as loaded as you are.

Step 5 – Resist the urge to shoot other animals not in season.

Step 6 – Resist the urge to shoot hunting partner when he starts stinking up the camper with pickled meat and beer farts. (Don’t worry, chances are he will eventually try too hard to fart once while you’re playing cards in the camper and he will soil his pants right in front of you. You know who you are!)

Step 7 – Yell “Hunting!” Then pack up and go home.