Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Most Boring Person

by Dan Leo

illustrated by konrad kraus

We had a friend in the crowd

I’ll call him Mr. X.

God only knows how he got in the crowd,

but we weren’t that exclusive,

and it wasn’t as if anyone was knocking down

doors trying to get in our crowd anyway.

But this Mr. X, sad to say,

was a bit of a dullard;

however, he had a car, and he had a job,

he was a plumber, so he had money,

which most of the rest of us rarely

had because we rarely worked,

and what money we made

we quickly spent on booze and beer;

so he definitely had his uses, especially to

one dude whom I’ll call Mr. Y, who

absolutely never worked and never had any money

except some pocket change his poor hard-working

working-class mother gave him.

But Mr. X chauffeured Mr. Y around

and bought him beer.

The guy wanted to belong to something

I suppose,

and we were it.

One awful night we sat around the dining room table

of some wretched row house,

drinking, and a relative stranger to the crowd

posited the question: “Okay,

who’s the most boring person you know?”

A chill went through that wretched dirty smoke-filled

room in a wretched falling down row house in a

wretched and poor Philadelphia neighborhood.

Uneasily the baton was passed from man to man.

“Uh, it’s, uh, so and so.

“Ha ha, yeah, that guy’s pretty dull.”

“Well, for me I gotta say it’s that guy


“Oh, yeah, right, he’s a bore-ass all right.”

And so on…

When it came Mr. X’s turn

he said some other dull guy’s name

and everybody said, “Oh, yeah, boring guy,

real boring guy.”

But then it finally came to Mr. Y.

Please don’t say it, Mr. Y,” we all thought. “Please.

Don’t fucking say it.

But, after a short dramatic pause,

Mr. Y pointed a finger at Mr. X and he said what we were

all afraid he would say:

“It’s you, Mr. X.


You’re the most boring person I know!

The heavens didn’t crack open.

Mr. X, who easily could have

broken Mr. Y in two,

did not break him in two.

In fact they remained friends,

if you could call them friends,

and why not call them friends,

and he continued as Mr. Y’s chauffeur

and patron,

at least for another year or two, or three,

until he got too caught up in wife and kids,

or maybe his wife laid down the law,

I have no idea.

Maybe at heart he knew he wasn't

all that exciting,

and he was just glad to be able to

hang around with guys who weren’t

as boring as he was.

And so at least maybe he knew

how boring he was,

which was a hell of a lot more

than you could say about

anyone else in that crowd.


Unknown said...

That's a good story. Strange to admit but I'm not certain what being a bore involves.
My father's brother and his family always struck me as so boring that I found being in their presence painful. They eat boring food and talk only about the most uninteresting stuff: how much vegetables cost; which of their porcelain figurines are collectible and which they simply think are just too cute.
My uncle has one question that never bores me. It hurts. Starting when I was 12 or so, he has always asked when am I getting my long awaited "Great American Novel" published. So they're not dumb. "Look--she's unhappy, ha-ha!"
It's always relative, who's boring and who isn't.
My exceedingly boring relatives include a seriously disabled son (who's always been a James Bond fanatic, I now remember) and a daughter who's perfectly healthy and guilty because of it. She married a very boring man and they drink a lot and tell silly jokes that make them snort.
They desperately and continuously cling to the surface because anything else is asking for trouble, of which they already have plenty. They're tiresome people because they're frightened, and in retrospect, I don't blame them. Their lives are scarier than mine and mine is terrifying--to me.
But for all that, I would still hate it if I had to eat dinner with them. They eat the kind of food that's served if you're in the hospitable: jello, white bread and butter, funny meat and dubious gravy.

Letitia Coyne said...

Kathleen, your uncle’s family does have each other.

The pathologically boring like me try yet another mask, new spangles, new showtunes – show stoppers! – but inevitably there’s an awkward silence and someone says, ‘Is that the time?’ Sometimes they even offer, ‘Won’t you take your wine with you? We won’t drink it and I’d hate to see it wasted.’

Déjà vu.

Peter Greene said...

Good God. Some truths are too grey and scratchy to be revealed.

Well written, and most distressing. Comments too!

Thanks...(my mind is limping away here, clutching its eyes)...

Dan Leo said...

Only the names have been changed, to protect both the innocent and the guilty, and those in that "grey and scratchy" realm between innocence and guilt...

Peter Greene said...

You've driven me to drink beer and listen to The Who.

Thank God it doesn't make me cry. Quite the opposite.

Whatever that is.


Dan Leo said...

Ha -- possibly my favorite ever Who song, Peter. Up there with "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "I Can't Explain", and of course that other song that might have been the motto of the afore-mentioned crowd, some of whom died before they got old, while other ones just got old...