My Favorite Boring Thing

When you’re young, anything short of a bikini-clad supermodel firing off an RPG into a Lamborghini is ultra-boring. Everything from your food (blue fruit roll-ups) to your clothes (yellow trousers) to your music (anything that rattles windows) has to be absolutely thrilling.

     What an exciting movie may look like.

When you get older, boring things start to become interesting. It starts small with gateway boring things like capers and Bergman films. Before you know it, you’re reading Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” and listening to Stravinsky. At this point, it’s all over for you. You enjoy boring things and there is no going back.

Now, I’m not talking about universally boring things like waiting in an airport or sitting through Sunday mass. I’m talking about boring things that millions of adults find absolutely riveting. There is only one defense for your favorite boring things: your boring things are much, much more interesting than other people’s boring things.

To that end, here are boring things that I find totally boring:

  Golf.

Symphony no2 in Dmaj by Johannes Brahms.

Frozen yogurt.

Now that I’ve outraged thousands of readers, it’s only fair that I come clean with boring things I really enjoy:

Tarkovsky films.

Roman history.

Black eyed peas.

But of all the boring things I enjoy, the most boring yet beloved of them all is…snooker.

How I view a thrilling evening.

It’s hard to explain. This British billiards game is inscrutable to those who don’t know the rules and dreadfully boring to those who do. Despite its  popularity in the UK and China, snooker has become a by-word for boring television.

So how can I possibly enjoy snooker?

Because there’s something devilish about it. Unlike most billiards games, snooker isn’t about potting balls in pockets. That’s only half the game. The other half is leaving the cue ball in a hopeless position for your opponent – snookering them. In fact, a good snooker will thrill the crowd like a well-potted ball. It’s the gall of it that makes me smile.

There’s something universally appealing about snooker. Just like every other sport, it’s human agency pushing against entropy to gain an advantage. It’s about precision and cleverness. And of course, luck. Like Fast Eddie said in The Color of Money: “The balls roll funny for everybody, kiddo.” You can do everything right, and sometimes you get hosed. You can do everything wrong and still pull off a home run.

So: since you people made me sit through boring shit like Phish concerts and Iron Man 3, you can sit back while I wax poetic about snooker.

Let’s begin.

This is the snooker table. To win, you pot balls to get the most points. Red balls are 1 point, and the other colored balls are shown with their point values. To score points, you must pot a red ball, then a colored ball, then a red ball, then a colored ball, etc. The red balls stay sunk, but colored balls are retrieved and placed back in their position on the table. You keep potting red balls and colored balls until there are no more red balls left on the table. At that point, you must sink all the colored balls in order: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, black.

Simple, eh? Well, snooker tables are huge – 12ft by 6ft. Their pockets are very narrow. And the felt is fast as hell. The table is merciless. There is no room for error. This isn’t your local barroom table. Potting a ball on a snooker table is really damn hard. There are no easy shots. But that doesn’t even cover the best part.

When it’s your turn to play, you MUST make contact with a red ball. If you pot it, good for you. You MUST then make contact with a colored ball. If you sink it, hooray. But you MUST at least contact your object ball. If you hit the wrong ball or miss your object ball, your opponent gets points. So, if you cannot easily pot your object ball, you are best served making contact with it, then leaving the cue ball somewhere that utterly screws over your opponent: snooker them. (And yes: that’s where we get the term “I’ve been snookered!” when someone cheats you out of something.)

Snookered. Big time.

In the above image, our hero has already potted a red ball. He is now required to at least contact (if not pot) a colored ball. He CANNOT contact a red ball first. Look at him. He’s fucked. There’s no way he’s going to contact any colored ball. But he has to. These are the moments that make snooker great. Not because someone scored huge points or did something graceful. No. In snooker, you achieve greatness by making your opponent’s life hell.

People who enjoy snooker are looking for three things from a great player: the ability to pot balls, the ability to snooker their opponents into oblivion, and the ability to maintain their cool under immense pressure.

It’s as thrilling as pitching that final out, kicking that game-winning field goal, or defending the net as time runs out.

Snooker is awesome.

 FUCK YEAH SNOOKER IS AWESOME!

So there you have it: my favorite boring thing. – snooker. Yeah, I sometimes fall asleep watching it. But more often I am glued to the screen, watching every brilliant pot, every fiendish snooker, every smirk from the vanquished foe. My boring thing is way better than your boring thing. :0)

 

 

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