Once, when I was a kid, I was bored for an entire afternoon. I didn't care for it and decided right then and there that it would never happen again. I absolutely haven't changed since then; I'm just as intellectually sophisticated, just as financially stable, and just as opposed to boredom. To that end, I try to make up weird mind games that you can play alone or with friends to pass the time, keep life more interesting, and avoid that vicious mistress boredom at every turn. A lot of my games involve my dog, but I want this article to work for everyone, and not all of us have dogs. (In case anyone's curious, though, those games are "Let's Pretend We've Switched Bodies" and "Who's the Best Little Guy?". Spoiler alert: He is.)
So, here are some things you can do to fight boredom, as well as a brief glimpse into what it's like inside my head, all the time.
Short and Sweet:
Determine who, in the general area, is a spy or an assassin.
This is a true thing that happened to me last week. I was walking down an alley behind two people I had never met, a man and a woman, both dressed in long, tan jackets. Without thinking about it, I ended up following them a little bit closer than I'd intended. I also ended up laughing a few times and mumbling, because I was thinking, and I talk to myself when I think, and that's perfectly normal, and I'm not the one on trial here. Obviously, I'd ended up on their radar, because the man turned around sharply.
"What," he demanded. He saw me watching them. He'd heard the laughing and the mumbling. He was angry and he looked at me very much in the way a man looks at another man when he suspects that man was looking and talking at his girlfriend's butt.
"Oh my god, you're right! What is the deal airline food?".
"What's so funny," he asked, looking for a fight. I had no problem with this man, and I have the soft hands of an Internet comedy writer, so I wanted to avoid a fight, if possible. I apologized and, when that wasn't enough, asked him if he really wanted to know what I was thinking. He said yes, so I told him the truth.
"Well I'm heading to my office, and I noticed that you two were both dressed in sunglasses and identical long, tan jackets, and underneath those jackets you were very well dressed. And you both walked slowly, deliberately, like ... cooly, the way cool- the way cool people walk? You walked like that, and I don't know if this was intentional or if you even noticed, but you walked in sync with each other. Like your left foot moved at the same time as her left foot, and your right feet, too, the whole ... All of them. Both of them. Your feet moved the ... same."
He stared at me, very much in the way that one man looks at another man when he says something like that thing I just said.
"So my thought," I continued, "my actual, honest-to-God thought, was 'Oh, these two are definitely assassins.' Like you were a sexy, married assassin team. I'm sorry I called you sexy. But like in my head you had guns under your coats, and you were walking in that synchronized, almost-slow-motion way that two deadly assassins would move. Like in Die Hard With a Vengeance, those two mercenaries almost never say even anything, they just wear sunglasses and nod at each other, as if to say 'Oh, we're very cool mercenaries, you and I.' And you- And so I decided you were assassins, based on all the clues. And I also decided that I was part of a special team designed to thwart you and I was ... It was my job to do recon. On you. I'm the recon guy. I also do computers, I think, but I didn't really get too far into the scenario because we ... Because you started talking to me. It was impolite and I'm sorry. It's a thing I do."
There was a very long pause.
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"Should you be wearing a some sort of helmet?"
"Are you guys assassins?"
The guy was still mad, but not mad enough to fight me. The woman laughed and they went on their way dodging just my question, for now, and several bullets later, I imagined, in some big, dramatic shootout.
I play this game every single time I'm in public around strangers. I'd never been caught before, but I've always done it. If I'm on a bus, or in a store or walking down the street, I instinctively survey the crowd and determine which one of the people is a spy, or assassin, which one of the other people is their target, and what's my role in the whole affair. (Recon, usually.) It stems from having the overactive imagination of a child coupled with a lifetime of watching action and spy movies. The "mumbling" that I was doing when the two beautiful assassins caught me likely involved whispering details to my partner via the nonexistent transmitter that I pretended was tucked beneath my collar.
It sounds stupid, because it is, but it also passes the time.
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Short and Sweet:
Trick your friends into singing shitty karaoke songs while avoiding such a fate yourself.
Every once in a while, my friends and I will go to a karaoke bar, because that's one of the things twenty-somethings can do at night with alcohol. Because we're all the same kind of stupid, we decided to spice things up. Karaoke is always embarrassing; we wanted to also make it dangerous and, yes, even more embarrassing.
Let's say there are five people in your group. If you have a mixed group, pick five gender neutral names, like Chris or Charlie or Jessie or Soren. Each person takes one of those names, writes that name on a piece of paper and picks the absolute worst karaoke song they can think of. Don't share it with anyone, just pick a song that would be a TERRIBLE karaoke choice. Maybe it's too damn long, or maybe it's an aggressive gangster rap, or maybe it's depressing as hell or, hopefully some day, all three. The point is you've picked a song that no self-respecting person would want to sing.
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"Enjoy yourself while you can. You've got 'Rhinestone Cowboy' next."
Next, everyone turns in their slips of paper to the DJ, and here's where it gets interesting. Remember your five gender neutral names? So far, every one of those names is assigned a terrible song, but none of your friends have been assigned names. So, write the fake names down on separate scraps of paper, throw them in a hat, and then pick one. If you picked Jessie, you get up there when they announce Jessie and you sing whatever song was assigned to the "Jessie" character, without knowing what it is in advance.
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Googling the lyrics won't save you.
That's why you're always taking a risk. You can write down the worst song in the world for "Chris," but if you're the one who picks Chris out of the hat, you're only screwing yourself. I've sang "Foolish Games," "Ain't Nothing But a G Thang," "Monster Mash" (in July), and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" without a duet partner, but I've also forced my friends to sing some truly awful songs too.
The worst part of any karaoke bar are the people who take it too seriously. There will be other people at the bar who have their "standards," the songs that they know they can just nail, the songs they sing every single time they go out. I guarantee you, when you and your friends fumble through obscure, tasteless or otherwise just silly-ass songs, doing your very best to own them, you'll be having more fun than anyone else in the place.