Ennui

“There’s no hurry. Take your time,” the wife said patiently.

“Time, that’s all I have since I’ve retired,” the physician-husband said. “What do you have?”

“I’ve finally figured it out,” she replied. “What I’ve been feeling since the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s ennui.” She hadn’t used that word in many decades, probably since college French, nor even thought of it. “It just came to me,” she marveled.

He felt he needed to refine the matter to better understand the underlying condition. So, he paused to consult some books. Then, he started asking questions, closed-end questions, not open-ended questions, to understand the situation. “Is it ‘a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of excitement?’ That’s the dictionary definition.” She shook her head sideways.

“Hey, is it just ‘tedium’? Maybe ‘listlessness, languor or lassitude?’” Again, she shook her head sideways.

He plowed on, asking more direct questions. “Perhaps ‘a feeling of utter weariness and discontent from a lack of interest?’ Again, no response.

Frustrated, he queried her further. “Maybe just old-fashioned boredom, even displeasure?”

“Displeasure, yes,” she replied, “Displeasure with this interrogation. As I told you, if you listened, it’s just ennui.”

Frederick Guggenheim
Denver, Colorado

 

 

 

 

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