Fall and winter are the season for banquets, award ceremonies, political rallies and such. Each of these events usually has a speech maker.
The speaker captures your attention with a clever opening remark and then gives it back after saying the words, “This evening’s topic is…” I don’t mean to demean all topics, some are at least topical. That’s good.
But your stomach is full and maybe you have heard it all before or maybe you just came for the luau and had no intention of buying a Hawaiian time-share.
Whatever, you are pretty much stuck for the duration of the speech. Dark powers make mental notes of those who “go to the bathroom (hah!)” which must be located somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle because they never come back.
Like most of you, I too am easily bored. This personality trait fits in with my other characteristics, for I am also easily fooled, easily amused, easily distracted and, of course, easily confused.
My life long work with boredom has given me some useful alternatives to that punishing state of mind. As you settle in your chair listening to a speech at your next banquet dinner, try some of the diversions that are listed below. Not all of these will be new to you, but one of them might be the one that saves you from cracking-up like a prison lifer in an isolation cell.
1. CEILING-STARING – This is the easiest diversion. Unfortunately, many newer buildings have boring ceilings, a sameness that is more boring than the speaker’s first point that always leads to the next point and on and on. Places like the Davenport Hotel are magnificent for ceiling-staring, even the walls have tricky things on them. High school gyms are at the other end of that spectrum with sound absorbing ceiling panels and walls that have only a score-board and a clock under some iron grating. This tactic will work nicely at outdoor speeches, especially if there are clouds or contrails across the sky.
2. NAPKIN ORIGAMI – This activity is pretty much described by its name. As you develop skills at this craft, paper rectangles are folded into triangles and then on to more complex geometric figures. Do not let the napkin get wet or it may be back to ceiling-staring for you. Treat your napkin gently, the normal banquet napkin has a life of 12 to 15 origami foldings.
3. TABLE KNIFE DRAWING – This activity depends on whether the waiter left your silverware. You can be pro-active by hiding a dinner knife (up your sleeve?) from the bus boys. Although table knife drawing can be done on a napkin, generally the table top covering provides an unlimited canvas for this sort of art work. You are stuck with straight line pictures until skills are developed. Start with a picket fence. Then add some leafless trees in the background (a winter scene). Be careful while drawing curved lines. Any tearing of a paper cloth will spawn the “why-don’t-you-grow-up” look from those seated nearby who are not looking at the ceiling.
4. WALLET MINING – Unlike the previous diversions, you must bring your own equipment for this activity. For men, that equipment is their billfold and for women, their purse, although there is nothing wrong with a man who carries a purse. Once you have the purse or billfold out, you can divert boredom for up to an hour as you stick your finger into every cranny and slot digging for small papers with strange nameless phone numbers written on them. You may dig out folded receipts for items purchased years ago. Sometimes this activity alerts you to the fact that a warrant may have been issued in your name since the unpaid parking ticket has been folded tightly for months in an easy-to-forget slot way in the back of the billfold where you never go. A wallet can be a Pandora’s Box.
5. THE TWO-SECOND NAP – This is the coward’s way out of boredom. You begin by leaving your eye lids shut for two seconds each time you blink. If no one nudges you, then you progressively extend the time of the blinking shut-eye. Soon, you are pretty much sleeping. Coming out of that slumber due to applause or laughter requires sophisticated mind control. No head shaking, no quick looking around and, of course, no drooling. This is a risky tactic that can only be successfully pulled off by seasoned veterans.
Please forward to me any ideas that I have overlooked. I am bored with these.