Bored during quarantine, Trumbull couple starts polling their neighbors

Jaimee and Brian Solomon pose next to their “Bored Board” with their son, Peter, in front of their Trumbull, Conn. home July 29, 2020.

Jaimee and Brian Solomon pose next to their “Bored Board” with their son, Peter, in front of their Trumbull, Conn. home July 29, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — A chalkboard and some ping pong balls have ignited furious debate in a Trumbull neighborhood, as residents cast their votes on such topics as Yankees v. Red Sox, Kirk v. Picard and are hot dogs sandwiches.

It’s hard to believe all that excitement came about due to boredom. But that’s exactly what happened.

“I work in event planning, and with nothing going on right now, I wanted a way to interact with neighbors,” said Jaimee Smith-Solomon, who with her husband Brian Solomon created “The Bored Board” in front of their home at the intersection of Arden Road and Thorburn Avenue.

The concept is simple, Jaimee and Brian pose a question on a chalkboard, and residents answer by placing ping pong balls into buckets that correspond to their answer. Every few days the Solomons empty the buckets and tally the results. The outcomes have been pretty eye-opening, Brian said.

The “Bored Board” in front of the Solomon home in Trumbull, Conn. July 29, 2020.

The “Bored Board” in front of the Solomon home in Trumbull, Conn. July 29, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

“We did one, Red Sox or Yankees, and I was pretty annoyed,” said Brian, a Brooklyn native. “Apparently I’m surrounded by Sox fans.”

Jaimee was similarly startled to learn that a majority of quarantined Trumbull women would take a girls’ night out over a spa day with friends.

The idea of the Bored Board came from a viral story about a Texas college professor’s informal poll of delivery drivers.

“Everyone is home and ordering things online, and Tiger King was the No. 1 series, so he made up a sign that said ‘Did Carole Baskin kill her husband?’ and the delivery drivers would place their packages on whichever side to vote,” Jaimee said. “I thought, how can we do something like that for the whole neighborhood?”

When the board went up, it initially attracted attention around the neighborhood, but its popularity took off when Brian began posting the questions and results on the Trumbull-oriented Facebook page Keep Trumbull Real. The interactive nature of social media also provided some insight into how people voted.

“I posted a question about who was the greatest pro wrestling bad guy, Ric Flair or Rowdy Roddy Piper,” said Brian, a former World Wrestling Entertainment writer and author of the book, “Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the World's Most Entertaining Spectacle.”

The result was a landslide win for Piper, despite the fact that Piper only played the bad guy role for a few years. From 1986 until his retirement, he was mainly a crowd favorite, Brian explained. Flair, on the other hand, played the bad guy for almost all of his 35-year career.

“Maybe it was the coconut that people remember from the 1980s,” Brian said referring to an infamous 1984 wrestling storyline where Piper taunted Fijian-American wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka then smashed a coconut over his head.

But if pro wrestling brought out generational differences, that was nothing compared to the feuds between Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials that erupted in June when the Bored Board began its Battle of the Bands.

“Everybody thinks, if I like rock ‘n’ roll, then rock is the only legitimate music there has every been,” Brian said. “And everybody thinks today’s music is garbage, and everything before the music they listened to was garbage.”

For example, when U2 defeated Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Solomons hailed it as a victory for Generation X over the Baby Boom. But both those generations expressed surprise that the band Weezer, which formed in 1992 and has released 13 albums and 40 music videos, ran competitively against Pink Floyd before losing.

“I think people sometimes don’t realize how much time passes,” Brian said. “They think Weezer is some upstart band, but they’ve been around almost 30 years now.”

Reaction from the neighborhood has been positive, due in part to the Solomons’ wisdom in choosing benign topics (Biden v. Trump will never be a board topic). And the couple solved the problem of someone writing obscene responses to the quizzes by installing a cheap security camera and threatening to post video of the culprit.

As for the board’s future, Jaimee said she would like to see it continue well after the pandemic ends.

“I’ll keep it going for as long as I can,” she said. “It’s kept me from losing my mind while there’s no events. But I’ll keep it going as long as the neighbors don’t mind, or until the board falls apart.”