Of Friends, Hobbies, Bracelets and Badly Written Comedy

Sometimes in life we make odd choices. Oh, not me of course…I am perfectly normal in all I say, think and do. I could no more make an odd choice than I could say something odd. When you look up “average” in the dictionary, there are no words…just a picture of me. Average height, average weight, average hair, average intellect, average number of nose hairs sprouting forth…, averagely braided ear hair...in every conceivable way, I am strictly average.

My interests are wide-ranging enough that I can attend with equal aplomb a night at the symphony or a rabid, touch-down dancing fan fest watching a football game. I can grab a handful of grease at the local burger joint while chatting up the latest episode of the Simpsons or discuss the intricacies of foreign policy in the Middle East over miniscule pieces of salmon in the fifth course at the swanky hotel. I can find a home anyplace in between those extremes because I am average.

I fit in because my fashion sense is so close to average that anyone from the eclectic, gingham-gown-and-lace-doily crowd to the 3-piece suit with a corsage to the 17 piercings in unmentionable locations with a side order of black clothes and unusual hats  feels comfortable around me. I fit in with all by being so average I separate myself from none.

Oh, sure, I don’t have the average 2.3 children but in every other respect I am the fountain of averageosity. One might almost say bland. Unnoticeable. In need of a makeover.

So recently I have been trying to find a “new look”. I thought an easy way to do it would be just the barest amount of jewelry. A gold chain about the throat. A manly bracelet perhaps.

On a completely unrelated topic, the wife and I have been seeking a hobby we might both enjoy. 

She is not particularly athletic, although she has joined me on the tennis court and in the racquetball court a time or two. We bike together on occasion and it is always enjoyable. It is a truth, however, that in any athletic endeavor there is bound to be a wide separation. In tennis I am a 3.5 level player. She likes to swing the racket and if the ball stays in the court she has done well. In racquetball I am a pretty solid “B” player, she seldom hits a ball more than a step or two to her right or left. I like to bike 40 – 50 miles at about 13 mph, she likes to ride 10 miles at about 7 mph.

I enjoy all these activities with her, but she likes to do them slightly less frequent and for less time. For example, I would be inclined to play 2 – 3 hours of tennis a day 5 times a week, she would prefer to play a half hour every two or three weeks. Give or take a month.

We used to go to a lot of movies together, but the combination of sucktacular fare such as “The Happening” in combination with skyrocketing prices for tickets and even more skyrocketing prices for what passes as nutrition at the theatre has reduced that to an occasional treat. Besides, how much of a hobby is sitting in a theatre for 2 hours killing popcorn? Enjoyable, yes. Hobby? Not so much.

We don’t particularly like the same television shows, either. I tend towards sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey and tennis) and comedies with a narrative…Psych, Futurama, the Simpsons…while she tends towards “reality” programs with no apparent narrative. I think at the moment she is watching "Dance Moms". I have yet to hear a person who is not completely reprehensible to the average person. I know because I am an average person.

For a time we looked into doing puzzles together. We even bought one and spent an evening working on it. It is almost the perfect hobby. It is something that can be done alone or together, it encourages proximity, fosters teamwork, and engages the intellect. There is really only one problem with doing puzzles together. It is mind-numbingly boring.

Her leisure time activities for a short while involved “yarning” as she once inadvertently called it…and a name I loved so much I have never let die.

Well, one day I was randomly doing…I honestly don’t remember what I was doing. But I came across some left-over yarn. And a light bulb went on. One might suspect this is because the room was a little dark and, desiring to see the yarn better, I flipped the light switch. One would be correct. That is exactly why the light bulb went on.

Metaphorically speaking, a second light bulb went on, this one more of a cartoonish nature hovering over my head thus indicating to the more dense among us that I had an idea. You would not have been able to pick that idea up from the excited expression on my face.

Off we went to Michaels. We purchased some embroidery floss. And together we launched frenetically into the wonderful world of making friendship bracelets.

You see, this had all the elements of being the perfect hobby for us. We could do it together, I could throw one on to inexpensively change “my look”, it had elements of her yarning. Perfect.

Of course, by “launched frenetically” I really mean…after the purchase of the floss, we went on with our lives and it sat around for weeks. More weeks passed. I continued my habit of 4 – 5 times a week playing 2 hours of racquetball, crushing all in my path.

Time passed. Little changed. We got ready to go to Las Vegas to hang out with her parents, Aunt, and two cousins. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make some of those with M & B, who probably already know how? The wife, the cousins and I could do that together. Might be fun.”

So I packed up the floss, downloaded some instructions from the awesome site Friendship Bracelets and off we went.

But a funny thing happened in Las Vegas. The cousins did not know how to make them.

Oh, one area I am NOT average. I never have, do not now, and have no intention to do so in the future, smoke or drink. Nor do I particularly enjoy hanging out in smoke-filled rooms or in locales where the primary focus is drinking. Note that I have been known to hang out playing cards where drinking was engaged in…but to me the focus there has always been the cards. Or other games.

 Nor do I particularly like looking at buildings or lights. So Vegas is not one of my favorite places to go…I don’t mind walking the strip for ten or fifteen minutes, but other than that, I just enjoy the time hanging out with the family engaging in our card games and smack talk.

In other words, unlike the "average" American...I am not a fan of las Vegas. 

So while the others ran off to visit the various casinos and check out the sites, I did not. Actually, I would have except I was busy working and often times they had not returned before I finished working so I was left with plenteous time of and on my own. I did read a half dozen books, but that can only take up so much time. So I started goofing around with the instructions, trying to learn how to make friendship bracelets.

My first couple attempts were…how does one pleasantly say “abominable affronts to worthy craftsmen throughout history”? 

Lets just say unsuccessful and leave it to your imagination. My third or fourth attempt actually somewhat resembled a reasonable effort, though there were certainly issues…such as instead of a tight pattern, some gaps that more closely represented the aforementioned lace doily.

My next one was actually pretty decent, just too short.
My next one was better, the right length, and instantly snagged by M.
My next one was better, the right length, initially given to the wife but then also snagged by M.

But then I did this.

My best effort yet.The right length. No lace-like gaps. No snagging by M. I actually started wearing it. And liking the look.

Here is the real problem, though. I was also enjoying…wait for it…the process.

Yes, I, a middle-age, average American male, snarfing down shakes like they were going out of style (I had 15 shakes in 7 days),

 watching an unhealthy amount of sports, playing more sports than I watch, lover of history and other traditionally masculine events and activities, actually really like the process of making friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss. I sound like a grammar school girl.

Worse, the first two I made successfully for myself both involve purple.

See, the second one I made I was experimenting with a new pattern and trying to make a border to make it “pop”. So the red and black were good choices. The border should have been white but my previous incompetence had used up all the white in mostly unsuccessful bracelet making attempts. So it is bordered in purple.

This is not all bad. I like purple. It is arguably my favorite color, though my favorite color combination is black and red.

Anyway, I really started enjoying the hobby. I spent a surprising amount of time on Friendship Bracelets  looking up patterns to try. I learned the difference between 1212 patterns and alpha patterns. I have a rather intimidating 48 string pattern lined up to attempt that will be awesome. I have completed three more bracelets since getting home.

I am currently working on completing a pretty cool one that is the Green Lantern logo. Next on the agenda is a very difficult one of the Minions from Despicable Me.

I am really, really loving this hobby. It has allowed me to change my look, engage in a cool, theoretically cheap activity. There is just one problem.

The wife still does not do them…


Riot Kitty said...

Nice bracelets! Wow, that takes me back...I made them in 8th grade.

J Keith said...

I made those in grade school. Can't say I have the patience to make them now though - I just buy them for my kids

Darth Weasel said...

RK thanks. I am surprised how much effort I put into them.

J Keith, That is exactly where I think making them stays in most normal people...which is why I think it is funny I just started making them since I miss the target demographic by 25 years and 1 gender...