Monday 3 – Tuesday 4 December 2012
Sitting with Rolf was just about as interesting as watching paint dry. Or watching grass grow. The man was an interminable bore, and it wasn’t as if he’d grown to be a bore as an adult. No, Rolf Olafsson had been born that way. In fact, Rolf had been so boring as a child that one day when he was nine, his parents had packed up everything that Rolf owned, thrown the stuff and him in the car, drove halfway across the country, and dumped him at an orphanage. Unfortunately, the only person in the world who wanted young Rolf was an elderly woman who owned twenty-two cats of unknown pedigree. At least that was the version of his childhood that Rolf chose to tell everyone.
In truth, Rolf’s parents had been young and unable to support themselves, let alone a baby. After much discussion, it was unanimously decided that Rolf’s maternal great aunt would take him on and raise the boy as her own son. In truth, she only had two cats, both of prize-winning pedigree. The singular truth that Rolf Olafsson told was that he was, indeed, a bore. And this was a badge that he almost wore with pride. Occasionally though, Rolf suffered bitter loneliness as a result of his lack of desire to change his life.
When I first met him, Rolf was a gangly sixteen-year-old boy struggling to find his place in the world. Nothing much changed; he is still gangly, still trying to find his place, but now Rolf is thirty-six. He is a computer technician for a big company that leases out the floors of the big skyscraper that it owns to other really big companies. So, adding insult to injury, Rolf has a boring job to go with his boring personality. We meet every week for a few hours on a Monday afternoon after work. It’s our ritual . . . our boring ritual.
It’s not that we speak a lot when we meet. We just kind of sit around, drink coffee, maybe grab a bite to eat at the café across from the park that we meet in which, incidentally, is the very same park that Rolf’s company’s skyscraper looks over. He is boring and sometimes lonely, and I . . . well, I’m just lonely. I enjoy Rolf’s company. He’s predictable. There are no surprises with Rolf; what you see is what you get with him, unlike almost everyone else I know. I like the simplicity that is Rolf Olafsson.
My job sees me surround by people who are often hiding secrets, and it gets tiresome trying to figure them out – the people, not the secrets. With Rolf, I don’t have to wonder if he’s up to something. Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else who met Rolf when he was a child, I too fell for the orphanage and cat lady story. Enthralled by the oddity that was his story, I imagined Rolf enveloped by twenty-two possibly mangy cats demanding his attention and then leaving him because even they thought he was a bore. I pictured the dumpy old cat lady and her odorous mansion, rooms filled with wandering cats, and poor Rolf exiled to some musty, cold little room somewhere in the bowels of the house surviving off of scraps of bread and the occasional cup of water. His real life, however, was much more privileged than the story he told everyone.
I forget how I first met Rolf, but I guess that’s not as important as the fact that his predictable boring nature makes him easily my most reliable friend. Over the years we’ve talked about everything and nothing, and not once has Rolf had an interesting opinion about any of it. But that’s okay because I don’t expect that of him.
Today, when he arrives, we’ll embark upon our usual ritual of salutation, agreement on coffee as our beverage of choice, and it’s likely that we’ll each grab a slice of pizza or a sandwich, depending on what is fresher at the café. Then we’ll make our way back to our bench here in the park, and as it’s the first Monday of the month, we’ll sit in silence for a half hour, looking to the sky to watch the racing pigeons fly circuits around the city. Afterwards, maybe we’ll talk about our day . . . maybe. It’s not an interesting thing to do, but it’s ours.
My friends have asked many times why I choose to spend time with boring Rolf, and aside from the fact that I genuinely like him, the answer is simple. I don’t want to miss it – that one day that Rolf Olafsson isn’t boring. It’s coming. I just don’t know when.