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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Meg Ryan Probably Hates Hobbies, Too

This drawing is a retread, but speaks to several of my non-hobbies.

DURING AN INTERVIEW for “Inside the Actors Studio,” host James Lipton asked actress Meg Ryan to name a word she detested. Ryan thought for a few seconds, then unfurled “en-joy” with mocking deliberation. Lipton seemed surprised. As I remember it, Ryan explained that “enjoy” was almost always used in instances when the speaker sounded devoid of actual joy.

We really enjoyed our dinner. 
As words go, enjoy is solid beige. It now lives in the dingy old sack where I keep words I regard as fundamentally unworthy of the human experience. The sack is small, and notably separate from the suitcase where I store passionately loathed language trends, i.e. "amazing.But I want to pull another one out of the bag and turn it over for just a moment, so here we go:

Hobby. Do you have one? I don’t.

People must admit to having hobbies all the time. It keeps showing up on questionnaires. 

Whenever asked, the only reasonable answer that occurs to me is, “Yes, I collect coins,” which is problematic, since I don’t collect coins. Yet it’s one of the few activities I can think of that sound dull enough to warrant hobby status.

Yet if I did collect coins, it would no longer be a hobby, because, holy hourglass, Batman, this life is whizzing by, so I'm not going to waste it on anything I regard with the limp, semi-intentionality of a hobby. No, if I decided to delve into numismatics, it would mean I had begun to regard coins with an awe previously reserved for moments of spiritual bliss and/or closeups of Adam Levine's tattoos.

Let me be completely obnoxious: Everything I do outside my job is way more critical to my humanity than the word “hobby” can convey. That includes napping.

I love to read and draw, for pay and otherwise. I’m a half-moon short of a lunatic for animals, and have been known to spend mornings cleaning shit off birdcages just to snag face time with a rescued vulture.  I do none of this with the thumb-twiddling listlessness conveyed by that Poindexter of the h-word.

An allergy to hobby might well be a sign of taking oneself too seriously. But derision is definitely built into its DNA. You can read about it here on the online etymology site, but perhaps it will suffice to say that “hobby” grew out of “hobbyhorse,” which, as we know, is a horse that doesn’t go anywhere.

My horses travel.  They take me to true joy. They also occasionally stop to drink at the stream of sorrow, frustration and self-doubt, before heading on down the road to redemption. And of course, they provide critical moments of deliverance from the jar of peanut butter in the kitchen cupboard.  This is all fulfilling and important, I think.

So, please, have your hobbies if you like. I don’t want to deny anyone pleasure, even if it’s just the pleasure of being able to claim that they have a hobby.

But I wish James Lipton would call me. I like to have a word with him.

1 comment:

Valorie Grace Hallinan said...

I don't have any hobbies either, and I totally agree with you. Life is too short. Excellent post.