I was commiserating with Jay Kinzel (a regular commenter on this blog) about one of our collective pet peeves, when a person bores you to death in conversation. Can’t they tell that they’re punishing you? Don’t they know that they’re horribly and unforgivably boring?
Jay and I realized that there are certain phrases that precede total and utter boredom. For example, when a kid says, “Let me tell you about this one episode of Sponge Bob.”
“Really?” I think to myself. “Please, please don’t.”
Or when a person says, “Well this is what my cold’s like. It’s sort of a…”
In this situation, I wonder why I’m being tortured. I wonder what I’ve done to deserve someone describing the minutia of their physical ailment. “Oh, you have thick clogging snot in the back of your throat? Really? Thanks for telling me that. I certainly do appreciate that specific detail. Oh, you’re eyes are scratchy and there’s a whitish film on your tongue? Can I smell it?”
But while I was thinking about this, Jay was doing much better. He was writing a solid and detailed rant on the topic. And his rant is too good not to include here.
So this is from Jay:
“It may be hard to admit, but we’ve all done it. We don’t mean to do it. It just happens. We verbally assault someone with a boring story. There is no shame in being boring. I’m probably the most boring person on the planet. I have an MBA, live in the suburbs, married once, have a golden retriever, drive an SUV and have 2 kids. I’m the antithesis of the dude from the Dos Equis commercials. But what’s worse than being boring is not being self-aware. So, I put together this list to give you a guide or a heads-up that you are about to bore to death another human being. If you start a story with any of these statements, you are on your way to making the person you are talking to wish they were somewhere else. Anywhere else.
- You won’t believe what my kid did yesterday. Yes, I will. I have two kids of my own. They probably did the same thing you’re about to tell me about your kid. And, I could barely feign interest when my wife was telling me about my own kid. So, keep track of this stuff in a scrapbook and then never, ever show that scrapbook to anyone.
- I saw this amazing video on YouTube last night. YouTube has some great stuff. I’ve seen a lot of funny and amazing stuff there. But, your description is going to be neither funny nor interesting. Just email me the link and I’ll check it out. Don’t try to paint me a word picture about the 6-minute time-lapse video of a skyscraper being built.
- My boss is so stupid. This may be true. Most people think this about their boss. But, the only thing I will be thinking while you tell me this boring story is how smart can you be, working for someone who you think is so stupid? George Carlin said it best, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”
- I just barely lost my fantasy football matchup this weekend. I love fantasy football. Love it. I’m in between 4 and 8 leagues every year. But, even if we are in the same league, I couldn’t care less about how you lost by 1 point when Tom Brady hit a Hail Mary in the waning seconds of Monday Night Football. Keep it to yourself, Sparky.
- Maybe you had to be there. This should be self-explanatory. What this really means is, “Unless you were actually there witnessing this event, my verbal recap will have zero interest to you.” I had to be there. I wasn’t. Let’s move on.
- Let me show you some pictures from my vacation. Unless you went on vacation with Miranda Kerr, Candice Swanepoel or Meatloaf, I couldn’t have less interest in your vacation pictures. Sure, I will flip through them, fake smile and look for every opportunity to skip a picture or two. But make no mistake, I would rather watch paint dry.
- You won’t believe the stuff that was on sale at the store today. This one seems so obvious. But, it’s amazing how many people want to tell me (or even worse) show me what they got on sale. Ugh. Your last bowel movement has as much appeal.
- My kid is so smart. Everyone thinks his kid is smart. I even think at least one of my kids is smart. But, unless your kid gets into college at age 10 or something like that, I’m not going to be impressed. And even though I may be impressed, I’m still going to be bored. So, if little Molly makes the honor roll, great. That’s never been done before. Congrats.
- The Presidential debate last night was unbelievable. Let me guess. Some middle aged dude in a blue suit and a red tie talked about the need for change, how he can fix “the system” (whatever that is), and how his opponent will ruin your life if he’s elected. Yep. Seen it. Next.
- I may have told you this story already. If you ever lead with this one, I will definitely say I’ve heard it before. Starting a story like this is kind of like a Get Out of a Boring Story For Free Card. Thanks.
- I heard this on Facebook. I’ve never been on Facebook, but I think you usually “read” things on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t speak to you, so you can’t “hear” things, right? Either way, it doesn’t matter. I don’t give a %&#@.
- So, last night we were playing this board game. The only thing worse than the agony of having to play a board game, is listening to someone recount their playing of a board game. Yes, I’m sure it was brutal when you rolled doubles for the third time and had to go to jail. Life really isn’t fair, is it?
- I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since my grandpa died. (In addition to being boring, I am also insensitive. I submit this as Exhibit A into evidence.) I’m sure your grandpa was a great guy. Mine was too. But, you know what? There was probably a service and eulogy 5 years ago. We don’t need to recount it here. People that are actually alive aren’t very interesting. What makes you think the dead guy will be interesting?
- I was sooo drunk last night. I get that your drinking may make me more tolerable. But, I assure you it did not make you more tolerable. Just sayin.
- Did I tell you about my trip to Washington DC? Don’t ask me this question. Because I will be forced to lie in order to try and avoid hearing this story. And even if I haven’t heard the story from you, I’ve still heard it before. “First, we went to the Smithsonian and then we went to the Lincoln Memorial and then…” ZZZZZZZZZZZ.
- You won’t believe what happened at work today. There is a 100% chance that I will believe it. I take great effort in not talking about what happens to me at work. Why? Because work is boring. There is a reason they pay you to be there. Work is a fact of life. Talking to someone else about your job doesn’t have to be.
- I found these great coupons. This is the ugly stepsister to “You won’t believe the stuff that was on sale at the store today.” And it is really ugly. Now you are going to tell me about crap that you haven’t even bought yet? You cannot be serious.
- I just read about this amazing new diet. Wow! You can only be telling me this because you think you are fat (probably true) or you think I’m fat (certainly true). Either way. Neither of those things is going to change. So what do you say we skip hearing the boring story about this diet and go get some ice cream?”
Amen, Jay. AMEN.