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Out Is In for Dull Men

Tired of being interesting?

Is keeping abreast of the latest fashions, books and self-improvement schemes becoming an increasing irritant?

The Dull Men’s Club of San Francisco alleviates the pressure of being trendy by encouraging “closet-dullers” to come out and flaunt their dullness.

“A neighbor and I hit upon the idea of protesting awards and fame going to people who are charismatic,” said Joseph L. Troise, a 37-year-old auto mechanic, writer, and corporate dropout who founded the club.

On National Nothing Day (January 16th) - observed as the official day nothing has happened in history, said Troise - the Dull Men’s Club was born in the humble surroundings of a café in the Mission District of San Francisco.

A small classified advertisement was placed in a community newspaper seeking those who “dare to be dull.” There were seven responses.

Seven months later, there are 300 nationwide members – 35 of them in the Bay Area – who have paid $3.50 annual dues and received a membership card, a dull license, and a bumper sticker proclaiming, “We’re out of it and proud.”

“Will all of us lead a life of bean sprouts rather than hamburgers?” asks a letter from Troise to club applicants. “Honey in our coffee rather than sugar? ‘Relationships’ rather than marriages? Massage instead of sex? I think not.”

Local meetings are attempted at Café Babar in San Francisco, Troise said. Members sit around reading the newspaper and playing pinball until someone says, “Now what are we going to do?”

A recent change in club policy allows women to become members.

“The only reason women were excluded is because we didn’t know what pressure they were under,” said Troise. “Aren’t interesting women threatening? Aren’t dull women more acceptable? I didn’t know. Some women have demanded the right to be dull.”

About 10 percent of the club’s membership is female, he said.

There seems to be no common denominator among members except their driving desire to be dull. Popular hobbies are bowling, stamp collecting, and taking accounting courses, Troise said.

“One kid wrote he was 12 and sort of dull but thought he’d get duller as he got older,” said Troise.

“I don’t want to go to my men’s encounter group meeting,” another applicant’s letter read. “I don’t want to go to my modern dance class. I want to stay home and drink a beer.”

Quite a few women have submitted their husbands’ names.

There is no way someone can be expelled from the club “unless you become too interesting,” said Troise.

(This piece was first published in Deadline in Berkeley, California on August 22, 1980.)

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