Winnipeg Free Press — columnist discovers he might be one of us

Winnipeg Free Press — columnist discovers he might be one of us

Doug Speirs, Columnist

February 8, 2021

It goes without saying that the global pandemic has changed our world in some painfully obvious ways.

What needs to be said, however, is that COVID-19 has also resulted in some subtle changes that can only be perceived by highly trained crusading newspaper columnists such as myself.

What I am trying to say that, just as orange is the new black, pandemic restrictions mean boring has become the new exciting.

I mean, it is impossible now to do something like drive to the local drugstore to buy toothpaste — the very height of tedium in the pre-pandemic world — without stopping to consider the possibility that you might contract a potentially lethal virus while deciding whether Crest or Colgate will earn more points on your loyalty card.

In our heart of hearts, most of us experience a deep melancholic longing for things we found desperately dull before the pandemic arrived but now are touchstones to a safer, gentler time. Consider this short list of things that would have bored your pants off before the novel coronavirus arrived:

  1. Spending countless hours finishing a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring photographs of famous Renaissance cathedrals, then frantically calling your friends so you can swap it with them for their puzzle featuring photographs of dozens of different dog breeds.
  2. Collecting literally hundreds of used toilet-paper rolls so that you can turn those shabby cardboard tubes into heart-shaped crafts to celebrate Valentine’s Day, most likely on your own.
  3. Finally pulling dozens of rock-hard black bananas out of your freezer, because there is no time like the middle of a pandemic to make hundreds of loaves of banana bread that you cannot legally share with friends and family, so you end up eating all of them and falling into a sugar-induced coma while on the couch watching reruns of Cupcake Wars on The Food Network.

In today’s world, those previously boring activities qualify as the most fun anyone can have while trapped at home socially distancing from their dirty laundry.

What I’m saying is, we live in a time when boring equals normal, which is good; whereas exciting equals no-longer-normal, which is bad. I have no problem confessing that I am — and have always been — a fairly boring person. I wear my dullness like a badge of honour.

What we, as a nation, need to do in these troubling times is embrace the fact that, under the newish normal, we must dare to be dull. We must embrace the boring, and hand out gold medals to people who excel at activities that would previously have caused us to fall asleep with our eyes open.

Which is why I personally have decided to seek entry to an organization that you will think I am making up but that is, in fact, completely real — the Dull Men’s Club.

This is a society of thousands of men in Britain and North America who take immense pride in celebrating the mundane side of life. It is, if you will, a League of Uninteresting Gentlemen.

It’s been called a club for the mild at heart and its website (dullmensclub.com) proudly invites people to celebrate the ordinary and offers a refuge “where dull men — and women who appreciate dull men — share thoughts and experiences about ordinary things.”

Every year, the Dull Men’s Club selects 12 of the world’s dullest human beings to appear in their annual calendar. The 2021 calendar is themed “Is This the New Normal?” and it features dull people from around Great Britain and the United States who have wide-ranging interests that are anything but interesting.

For example, this year’s calendar ($15 on Amazon) boasts the founder of the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society in Wales, a Colorado guy who’s collected 1,100 vintage washing machines and an English historian who studies manhole covers.

I learned about the club last week after stumbling on news reports about “Mr. June,” 70-year-old Johnnie Meier, who is the curator of the Classical Gas Museum in New Mexico and has been collecting gas station memorabilia for more than 20 years. “I have some dull interests,” Meier told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “But I own it. And to be selected alongside these other dullsters, well that’s some pretty amazing company.”

Out of journalistic curiosity, I did some research to determine my chances of earning a spot on the world’s dullest calendar.

A report on businessinsider.com listed the 16 classic traits of boring people, including “boring people can’t see things from other people’s perspectives.” I am not sure that is true, because I always see both sides of an argument, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Finally, I visited thequiz.com and answered a 35-question test. No. 30: Are twins creepy?

Sadly, it informed me that I am the opposite of boring. “James Bond would look at you and wonder how he could be that interesting. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing it right and it certainly isn’t dull,” it gushed.

But I plan to keep that to myself, because I am gunning for a spot on the Dull Men’s Club calendar. For now, my motto is: Always a dull moment! You’re welcome to join me because — forgive this next bit — the bore, the merrier.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca


Calendar is available here:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

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“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness”

~ Albert Einstein

“Time is a great invention — it’s what keeps everything from happening all at once”

“We don’t try to keep up with the Joneses — who are the Joneses anyway?”

“Glitz and glam — not worth the bother”

“We’re giving a good name to a four-letter word — dull”

“The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer”

~ Edward R. Murrow

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”

~ Will Rogers

“Slow motion gets you there faster”

~ Hoagy Carmichael

“While it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfilment in being ordinary”

~ Marilyn Thomsen

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