She takes a deep breath as she waits, exhaling a long sigh. The onset of boredom: she is bored in waiting and she is bored with waiting. She is exhausted by it, tired of being kept waiting. Is this a battle of wills: to see who can go the distance? To see who wins? The lapse into boredom is a relief. All else is in abeyance or just passing (still, momentary and disengaging) like that plane, or that truck, or that dog. Just a plane, just a truck, just a dog, just passing time. This is how boredom translates: you don't exactly wait for someone else, you wait for yourself (to have a wish, for an experience of anticipation, to regain curiousity). She's even lost interest in the stranger, her anticipation has dissipated. Petulant and spiteful, "I don't want you anymore." Famous last thoughts ... 'like the bug that splatters against a windscreen,' she smirks. You'd think she was waiting for someone else, the way that she's talking to herself.

After another long sigh, she thinks that she doesn't care But really, she wants too much, she cares too much. She doesn't want to admit it. Not now and not yet. Perhaps she's being churlish. Perhaps she's just considering her options. Perhaps her decisions have been made for her, as incidence, as circumstance. As Phillips states "it is difficult to enjoy people for whom we have waited too long. And in this familiar situation, which evokes such intensities of feeling, we wait and we try to do something other than waiting, and we often get bored ­ the boredom of protest that is always a screen for rage."2

The stranger is no longer a source of pleasure, but residual desire. The boredom acknowledges the possibility of desire, boredom sets in because there is the possibility that something or someone is worth waiting for, that an object of desire will make its presence felt, for the longing to return. A fear that her boredom may turn to waiting again. According to Phillips, "this occurs because the individual will become 'brave enough to let [her] feelings develop' in the absence of the object ­ towards a possible object, as it were ­ and in doing so commit [her]self, or rather, entrust [her]self, to the inevitable elusiveness of that object. For the adult, it seems, boredom needs to be the more permanent suspended animation of desire."3

Still life. She is both accutely aware of and disinterested in her waiting. She rummages around in her handbag, looking for something else. She really wanted her Apple Newton but it had been retained as evidence in an investigation of a criminal assault: the laws of nature have not been broken, but that poor skull. Did she really have to throw it so hard? ... Her hands negotiate the contents of her handbag until she finds cigarettes. She keeps them for occasions such as these. Just in case someone asks her what she's doing on this street corner, a nice girl like you, she can reply, laconically and indifferently, "Smoking." And if need be, dig the lit end into the eye of the passing stranger: the one she wasn't waiting for. She has all the exits covered. As she lights one, she stops waiting. For Phillips: "boredom ... protects the individual, makes tolerable for [her] the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be. So the paradox of the waiting that goes on in boredom is that the individual does not know what [she] is waiting for until [she] finds it, and that often [she] does not know that [she] is waiting."4

Boredom is her escape route: the trajectory which leads elsewhere. Like so many of us, she wants what she cannot have or doesn't know. She waits for something that may not arrive.


1. Adam Phillips, 'On Being Bored' in Adam Phillips, On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored, Faber and Faber, London, 1993, p 71

2. ibid., p 80

3. ibid., p 82

4. ibid.