Thursday, January 28, 2010


Have you ever stopped to consider the true meaning of the word "ennui"? First of all, moron, it's pronounced "ahn- WEE", not "EN- yoo- ay." This is how it sounded in my head until I said it out loud to Zoe one day, and she quickly corrected my ignoramus pronunciation, because I generally don't hang out with people learned enough to use this term in everyday conversation. The majority of of my friends are illiterate, stumped by common street signs and baffled by shiny objects.

The literal translation of ennui from its original French equates to "boredom." Go figure, the French are such bores. But it contains so much more than boring. Really, it also suggests weariness from the mundane and disenchantment from the formerly enchanting. It means getting exactly what you thought you wanted, then taking a moment to look around, to shrug your shoulders, and say "is that all there is?" It's like ordering the Baked Alaska, or if you're me, having sex.

Here, Peggy Lee explains ennui in a lecture- song. Only individuals like Peggy Lee and Barbra Streisand can pull off this genre of half- sing/ half- intimate pillowtalk (thank you Zoe). Seriously, click on this link! I can't figure out how to make this go from that internets to this internets.

Aren't you thrilled and relieved by the fact that there exists a noun so elegant and precise to sum up your nebulous existential angst and everyday malaise, and it's only two syllables?

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't believe in "boredom," just as I refuse to accept "shy." "Shy" is a euphemism for "sociopath." If you're an adult and live in the world and are forced to engage with humans on a daily or at least weekly basis, then get over your shit, look someone in the eye, and SPEAK! If the norms of social interaction prove challenging for an individual, there are always apologists who pull this, "Oh, Sabrina. She's just shy." NO! If you can't at least do the little song and dance of meeting and greeting, then you are a bonafide weirdo. Shy, my ass...

I don't believe in boredom, in theory at least. Although I bemoan its persistence in my life on a daily basis. No curious person should ever be bored, because the world is full of so many delights and things to know, there are infinite books to read, gratuitous blogs to write, and new opportunities abound wherever you look. In the words of another hero of mine, Betty Draper, "Only boring people are bored. Go bang your head against a wall."

But alas! I betray my own ethos again and again. I am bored as fuck. And I'm boring, but you all knew that already. Seriously, I've extinguished every TV series available on Netflix (except the Wire. I don't dislike the Wire, I loathe the Wire. I know, I know, you find me even more reprehensible now, a feat you thought impossible, I'm the only person on God's green earth to ever make this claim, blah blah blah. I mean, McNulty's kind of hot or whatever, but I cannot keep these plots straight! And what with all the cops- and- robbers talk, if I only half- listen it sounds like they're speaking Arabic or something, and I can really only deal with shows that require half- listening, as I usually fall asleep within the credits of anything I'm watching after 6pm. I endure this affliction, which is a congenital disease know as "Fernitis," for my grandmother, a lowland German peasant, who fell asleep the moment she sat down on any stationary surface in the evening because she worked on her feet from sun up til sundown. I'm just lazy.)

I even started on Grey's Anatomy, which is possibly the most boring show in the history of TV. I experience ennui when I while those plucky interns fall over each other to observe unorthodox medical procedures, and even more ennui with the cold realization that I've watched the last episode and there are none left to fill my days. These dark, dark days. Oh well. But then I remember that there exists a word like ennui, so perfect in its little chrysalis of vowels, and then I feel slightly less anguish upon my brow. Then it's all, "enn- WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!"


Anonymous said...

Please, send your posts over to the Village Voice. These should be in print - especially the movie reviews.

If you're netflixing your way through the 21st century (and why not?), you can gorge on ER. There's like 11 seasons released, no Arabic, lotsa blood and sentimentalist drivel, and when you finish all 11 seasons, well, there's still more yet-to-be-released, so there's no Sopranos-type mourning.

For fear of revealing that I've watched ER, I'll have to leave this post from "anonymous rec writer" and you'll know who I am.

bigmike said...

you need to be rewired and when you are you won't have time to eat your words as you'll be watching all 5 separate but equally enjoyable seasons of "the wire"