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Hobby Blues


I spent a handful of days begging the NSA to give me demographics, and conducted an exhaustive data mining campaign through such accurate records as Google, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook and Wikipedia. I collected all the information, ran it through Excel, and discovered that I was the only person in the world without a single hobby. So that’s why I hate joining online communities and neighborhood watch organizations: they always want to know what my hobbies are, and when I leave it blank, they automatically assume that I’m some sort of social outcast or perhaps a person with a slow mind. Mine is most certainly not slow – it’s deliberate. There’s a difference. I deliberately leave it blank because I’m certain I have no hobbies. Notta one. You could beat me to the brink of death, but you’ll never squeeze a hobby out of me. It just ain’t there. If you want, I can act stupid, though. I’ve been told I do it quite well. Doctors say it has its roots in an incident that happened Thursday, September 9th, 1999 involving the accidental ingestion of a hallucinatory mushroom, in which I wrote fifteen novels in 84 hours. Boy, was that stupid. I wrote it in Cantonese. Unfortunately, I can’t read a single word of Cantonese. See what happens when you don’t have a hobby?

If I gave you a list of indoor and outdoor hobbies that I have no skill or interest in, it would stretch just past Neptune and contain 314 trillion terabytes of hard drive space. I just made that up, but it’s so awesome it could be true. I’ve attempted scores of them but have failed miserably. For instance, I tried my hand at gardening once; tried growing watermelons. They came out the size of Skittles. I did learn, though, that fried chicken doesn’t grow from the ground. I planted a extra crispy leg once. All that came up was a lousy wing. Then there was the whole magic phase of my life. Only trick I could pull off was turning food into poop. I learned the art of soapmaking, but kept coming out with jell-o on a string. I gave juggling a whirl; come to find out it the same thing as keeping up with seven kids and three ex-wives. My therapy bill is too high for me to go through something like that again.  I thought about getting into woodworking, but that whole ‘work’ thing scared me off. I tried bird watching until a flock of rogue seagulls stole my binoculars and McDonald’s fries. How was I to know fries were their favorite food? I gave hunting a try. Best sleep I ever had was in a tree stand. Then there was my attempt to take up cooking. No matter what I did, no matter what kind of exotic dishes I tried to make, it always ended up being meatloaf. Don’t get me wrong. I love meatloaf. It just gets old after awhile. At some point they make for great door stops, too, but I don’t want to start a door stop collection. Without fail every single hobby I’ve attempted has blown up in my face. Which reminds me of that chemistry set my cousin Matt Self and I blew up 45 years ago. Debris still falls from the sky.

I gave a go at collecting, having heard that is a hobby as well. You know me, though. I’m not your average stamp, baseball card, porcelain doll collector. I managed to amass quite a few finger bones until the police came and took them away. Spoilsports. I do have quite an extensive library of books, but I wouldn’t call it a hobby. My therapist calls it hording. I amassed a rock collection during my childhood. Well, it was coal, and it was over a span of several Christmas’s when I just happened to make ‘somebody’s’ naughty list. Did you know you can hide a lump of coal in a snowball and do some serious damage to younger kids?

Seems the only thing I can do well that even remotely resembles a hobby is writing, and I seriously suspect anyone who suggests it is. Hobbies are supposed to be relaxing, and writing is anything but. All those prepositional phrases and dangling participles. Poems are brutal. Try finding a word that rhymes with ‘rabbit’ and isn’t ‘habit’. Don’t even get me started on ‘orange,’ either. I’d rather swim naked in a cactus garden. Actually, cactus swimming in the nude can be quite adventurous. Not even that is a hobby, though.

I should just face the fact that I have no hobbies whatsoever. Well, I take that back. I do enjoy a good outing with the dog on a scat expedition. She’s got a much better nose for it than I. Usually I just photograph it, check it’s taste, texture and temperature and then move on to let Mother Nature have it. Sometimes, though, a particular scatalogical specimen comes along that defies logic (that was a scat joke: ‘logic: log-ic, you know, like an icky log… never mind. It’s really an insider’s joke, anyway.), and I make sure to get a sample of it for extensive testing purposes. When I’m done cataloguing, analyzing and sniffing (to name just a few pseudo-scientific techniques) I always donate the dung to the nearest zoo’s monkey house for flinging purposes. Even then I wouldn’t call this a hobby. It’s a passion. That’s right: to a scatologist, poo is a passion fruit.

But I digress. (as I usually do when I start in on crap) Hobbies are something alien to me. So if you ever come across a biography about me and see the heading “Hobbies,” expect to find my writing under it with the words “Yeah, about that…” Now let me get off my hobby horse before the grammar Nazi returns to check my writing. Happy habits to you!

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