Boredom shows up on the A Salty Dog album that came out in 1969.
In the 1970s, I owned a greatest hits album by Procol Harum, for some reason, on cassette. I don’t remember the title – there are so many of them! – but it ended with a live version of Conquistador. Eventually the tape wore out, as cassettes were wont to do, and I replaced it with a 2000 CD, imaginatively called Greatest Hits.
I was gobsmacked when I got to the song Boredom. I was unfamiliar with it, as it wasn’t on my cassette. The lyrics began:
Some say they will and some say they won’t
Some say they do and some say they don’t
Some say they shall and some say they shan’t
And some say they can and some say they can’t
Back in high school and early in my college days, I tried my hand at songwriting. I didn’t think they were very good, and I seldom shared them with anyone. I had them in a notebook which is now lost or at least misplaced.
One was called Inconsistent:
The most consistent thing about me
Is my inconsistency…
But here’s the chorus (or a variation thereof)
If you think I will, well, then I won’t
If you think I do, well, then I don’t
If you think I can, well, then I can’t
If you think I shall, well, then I shan’t
And it goes on from there. The very specific use of the word “shan’t” makes me think that I must have heard the song Boredom on some FM radio station late at night and inadvertently purloined it.
Boredom shows up on the A Salty Dog album that came out in 1969. Technically I DO own it now, since some friends of mine gave me their LPs when they were just holding on to their CDs, but I’ve actually never played it, apparently.
Are there any events in your life that you feel make good parables that you want to share one day with your daughter?
I was 51 when she was born, so there is a lot of my life to draw from. Huge parts of it she doesn’t know, significant events, and I’m not sure exactly when/if to tell her. Maybe if she asks. She DOES know about JEOPARDY!
I remember looking at photos of my mother with some guy she went out with before she dated my father, and initially, it was kind of weird, but hey, that was rather natural. When she would talk about it- I was at least in my 20s by then – and say, “Oh, I could have married” so-and-so, it was rather disconcerting. I mean, I wouldn’t have been me!
My daughter is ALWAYS asking me to tell her stories, and I always struggle to tell her some. I know I’ve not wanted to poison her with some of the racism that I’ve experienced, yet at the same, try to subtly let her know – and some of it she’s figured out on her own – that it’s not all in the past.
I suppose I could tell her about being a conscious objector during the Vietnam war or going to various demonstrations for peace and justice. Not sure I want to tell her how I quit a job without having one to go to, more than once.
Really struggling with this one.
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50, what would you say?
At 10, I was feeling pretty good about things. Got 100 in the spelling final. I started becoming real friends with the girls in my class. Maybe I’d say that I needed to develop more male friends, because, even to this day, I have a dearth of them. I’ve usually preferred the company of women, and not just in romantic settings. I have some great male friends, but they are in the clear minority.
At 20, I was married to the Okie. I’d tell myself to press her about what was going on with her that would lead to her leaving the next year. Maybe I would have gone to the Philadelphia folk festival (which we couldn’t afford) if it was THAT important to her. (Ah, something the Daughter does not know about yet.)
At 30, I had a good friend die and got my heart broken in a fairly short period of time. I’d tell myself to avoid a certain emotional entanglement the following year, though it felt so good at the moment.
At 40, I had just started my current job the year before. I would have suggested taking a temporary position when it became available because the whole path of my employment could have changed.
At 50, Carol was pregnant with Lydia. Actually, there’s very little I would have said at that point because it’s impossible to understand parenthood without experiencing it.
What do you think you didn’t study enough in high school and college?
In high school, it was French, though I DID put in the effort, I just didn’t GET it, past the first year or so. Wish I had had the chance to have taken it earlier. In college, I’m surprised, in retrospect, that I took exactly one course in music, which I aced, and didn’t participate at all in a choral group, at college, or a church or something.
Did you have to write a thesis for your graduate program?
It was not a thesis as such, but it was a long paper, close to 50 pages. I couldn’t tell you what it was about if you paid me. It was torture when I wrote it.
What’s your favorite subject to study in-depth? What is your least favorite subject?
I don’t like studying anything in-depth; I get bored. I like to know a little about a lot of things. Recently, I HAVE become more expert in START-UP NY (an attempt at an economic stimulus in the state) and NYS sales tax law than anyone ought to be, and still, I have to look up. I suppose I’ve picked up some knowledge of The Beatles and other musical entities of the 1960s and 1970s.
My eyes glaze over when listening to talk about cars; I couldn’t tell you a type of Chevy that doesn’t start with C (Corvette, Corvair).
If you could give one piece of advice to a college student today, what would it be?
Resist learning about job skills that you can go into today; the field could be gone tomorrow. DO learn about all sorts of stuff, and know-how to think, not just regurgitate back the facts. In other words, in spite of the great affection for STEM education in the country these days, and I’m not against it, I still believe in the value of a liberal arts education. Do you read the funnies? What’s your favorite internet comic?
I seldom read the comics on the Internet, more as a matter of time. I’ve seen stuff I like online, such as XKCD, but it’s not part of the routine. (Here is a special version of the strip.) I read Pearls Before Swine, Luann, Zits, Doonesbury (when there’s new daily stuff) and Blondie, because it has evolved somewhat. Having said this, I did support the Kickstarter for the movie STRIPPED, about the history of the genre, so I am interested in the topic.
What types of jokes or humor make you laugh the hardest?
It’s language: clever puns, things that evolve from double meanings of words. Can’t give you an example, because, as I have often said, I can’t REMEMBER a joke I’ve heard since the age of about 12, even with fiscal incentive. But the visuals on the page, while not the best examples (but they are the last two on my Facebook feed) at least suggest the genre of humor.
I HATE, BTW, America’s Funniest Home Videos; the bits usually involve physical pain and embarrassment. I was at an urgent care place with Lydia a couple of years ago, and it was on the TV; my loathing was confirmed.
Music: The Barber Adagio I have almost a dozen versions of. Lenten music in general. But a great final movement of a classical piece will do it too, especially with organ power chord endings. I’ve mentioned some sad songs, associated with romance, in the past. Music evokes some very specific memories. Sometimes, songs, songs I associate with my former church in Albany make me very sad. Know what song used to make me weepy? Captain Jack by Billy Joel. Movies: the first one was West Side Story when Maria yells “Don’t you touch him!” over the dead Tony, but there have been several since. An occasional television show will do this as well, but it’s been a while, mostly because I’m not watching much TV. Other people being sad: I remember when Bobby Kennedy died and people were all sad. I wasn’t, but their tears became mine because THEY were hurting. That Kickstarter/Veronica Mars thing that you experienced made me sad for you, almost to tears, and surprisingly angry. My melancholia: More now than in quite a while. Sometimes, even in the midst of a crowd, I can feel quite alone. And I cry and/or I get angry. My daughter in pain, my wife in pain: the worst pain I ever saw my wife endure was after some surgery involving her jaw. MUCH worse than childbirth.
This is not to say that I’m never bored. Trapped in someone else’s time frame WILL bore me silly. In a long meeting that is top down?
I was reading on Facebook about some actual acquaintance of mine whose family was out of town for the weekend. He was expressing how lonely and bored he was, as he didn’t know what to do with himself. I thought it was rather sweet and endearing, actually.
Still, I also found it odd. On those rare occasions that my wife takes The Daughter to visit the grandparents, I miss them. But I always have a litany of things to read, watch and/or listen to, and other projects. I am never bored by my own company, probably a function of living alone more than half my adult life.
This is not to say that I’m never bored. Trapped in someone else’s time frame WILL bore me silly. In a long meeting that is top-down? A yawn; Presbyterians have LOTS of meetings, which I avoid as much as possible. Stuck three hours in Wal-Mart (and it HAS happened)? REALLY boring – it’s shopping, which I dislike, and it’s Wal-Mart, which I’m not fond of. The only way that situation would have been salvageable is if I had had something to read and a place to sit down and read it. IF there’s something to read, AND I have the opportunity to do so, I am NEVER bored.