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I Need a Hobby [Half a Man]

William Vanderson / Fox Photos / Getty Images

The excruciatingly long, mind-numbing minutes between 8pm and 11pm, all 180 of them, is the worst part of my day.

Many people kill for those hours — work for the day is done, the kids may not be asleep but at least their physical bodies are in bed, and all the little chores around the house are either complete or pushed off into the next day. These hours — primetime would be the industry standard term for them — are spent by the average American vegging out on the couch or finally doing something in the day they want to do.

I spend this time bored out of my mind and wishing the hands of the clock would spin the minutes quickly into the next morning.

Here are my entertainment options on any given evening :

  • Watch whichever awful show my wife is watching.
  • Get back in front of the computer where I just spent the last ten hours working.
  • Shuffle through all the apps on my iPad which essentially do all the things I would on a computer, just on a smaller screen.
  • Read a book.

Reading is how I put myself to sleep (not to be confused with my writing, my method for sedating others) so I only read while in bed. Two or three pages into a book, I’m out. While the allure to buy a new book is great, I end up saving a ton of money because one book takes me eleven years to finish. The DaVinci Code is finally starting to pick up momentum, so no one tell me how it ends; I’m at the part where we find out he’s a professor.

After an hour of pacing around the living room, the Permanent Roommate mentions it would probably be a good idea to get a hobby.

“A hobby?” I say. “But I’m not good at anything.”

“Well that’s the point of a hobby. You find an activity you like, or at least think you’d like, and spend more time doing it until you get good at it or it sends you broke.”

“Is drinking a hobby?”

“In certain families it is, but how about expanding your world a little.”

“You mean like drinking beers from different countries?”

She’s right. I need a hobby. I’m old now and old people have hobbies. Hobbies that necessitate odd magazine subscriptions and weekend trips to large meetings at Ramada Inn convention centers. I know about these meetings by chance, usually because I’m staying at a hotel holding one of the conventions. I’m not sure how I find out about these conventions once I start a hobby, though I suppose it will all be explained in the magazine.

I’ve never had a hobby. I collected baseball cards as a kid because all my friends did, and because I thought they’d never decrease in value and I could retire by the age of thirty. “What’s a 401K? I’ve got a 1990 Frank Thomas Leaf card I’m going to be able to buy a Yacht with using just the dividends. Hopefully I have enough money to also understand the meaning of the word dividend.” In my 20′s I played softball four nights a week just to hang out with friends and to wear cleats into bars. That hobby did have me hanging out in some Ramada Inn lounges which is how I stumbled upon those conventions.

There will be requirements to this hobby. Rules. Self-imposed rules. It can’t involve the use of any technology because my eyes can’t take another hour of staring at a screen. It would have to be cost effective to maintain, falling somewhere between cheap and free. The majority of the enjoyment of the hobby has to happen in my own house because I don’t feel like going anywhere. It can involve occasional travel — perhaps to shows — but I’m not subscribing to any more goddamned magazines. I’m not shooting anything. I’m not learning an instrument. Screw puzzles, what am I eight?

This list of hobbies seemed like a good jumping off point. By that I mean, I wanted to jump off my roof to avoid doing any of these activities for leisure.

Chess is out of the question, unless the cat is up for the challenge and stops licking his balls long enough to make a move. Ham sounded interesting, until I read the word “radio” after it. I just wanted a hobby involving ham. Woodworking is dangerous and it’s also a codename I use for masturbation so it could get really confusing around the house. I won’t garden because I hate being outside, I won’t restore a classic car because I can’t even remember to service my actual car and whittling puts a knife dangerously close to my wrists and I’m afraid of what might happen when I sadly realize I’m whittling to pass the time before I die.

It wasn’t until three hours, those mind-numbing 180 minutes, had passed that I realized I’d found a hobby. My hobby is reading and criticizing other people’s hobbies. Kind of fun.

Cat’s done licking his balls so I’ve got some chess to play.

Chris Illuminati is the editor-in-chief of GuySpeed. He’s written three humor books, ruined many personal relationships and still cries during thunderstorms. His “Half a Man” column appears every week. You can read more of his work here or follow him on Twitter.

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