What Should Bored, Phoneless Senators Do to Stay Awake During the Impeachment Trial?

If the fidget spinners aren’t enough.

WASHINGTON, DC  JANUARY 16:  (L-R) Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) arrive to the Senate chamber for impeachment proceedings at the U.S. Capitol on January 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. On Thursday, the House impeachment managers will read the articles of impeachment against President Trump in the Senate chamber and the chief justice of the Supreme Court and every senator will be sworn in. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
No iPhones or Apple Watches, senators. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It isn’t easy being a juror in an impeachment trial. U.S. senators aren’t allowed to use their smartphones, or computers of any kind, in the Senate chamber during these sessions. Eight senators were still spotted with Apple Watches, also a violation of the trial rules. Others, having to settle for rushing to their party’s cloak room to send their tweets, have had to find other ways to stay awake during the trial. It’s tough—proceedings can stretch into the early hours of the morning, and though the format of the trial is exactly what Republicans asked for, they’re not wrong that it’s been boring. Some of these people are also running for president, so they must be particularly exhausted. Methods that we can only assume are attempts to stay awake so far have included drinking cold milk, pacing and stretching, and accepting fidget spinners from Sen. Richard Burr. How can these senators stay awake? Here, from Slate’s staff, are a few analog suggestions.

Sneak in some stickers and nail polish: There’s nothing more soothing than focusing on something arty but uncomplicated, like applying paint or deciding where on your binder of supporting documents for the impeachment of the president of the United States to place your new fleet of rainbow dolphins. And think of how much fun it would be to trade this sparkly contraband with fellow senators during breaks!—Shannon Palus

Play Dots and Boxes: All you need to play this classic are paper, pencil, and a friend—or a bitter political enemy. Beautifully minimal with the slight potential to be strategically complex, Dots and Boxes is the Go of home-room boredom. It’s also the perfect semi-mindless attention-jolter when you must make it through a lecture/damning account of presidential misbehavior. I’ve been improving my game through this web-app version, though that’s not an option for senators, who will have to settle for a scrappier style of play. For a quick pick-me-up, a 4x4 grid of dots will do. If it’s looking like another late session, better go for 12x12.—Jonathan L. Fischer

Concoct anagrams: No tech required. Just get a pad and paper and come up with as many combinations with the names of whoever is speaking at the time. For example:

Adam Schiff: Is mad chaff. Fish cam fad!
Zoe Lofgren: Fog zen lore. Zoo fern leg.
Hakeem Jeffries: Hi jefe. Make fires?

Fun, right? You can also share and compete with your colleagues under your lecterns. Just imagine what you could conjure with excellent names like “Jerrold Nadler,” “Val Demings,” and “Chief Justice John Roberts.”—Seth Maxon

Play dice cricket: Brits like to claim that cricket is a complicated sport. It is not, especially when compared with the head-scratcher known the world over as American football. The stultified senators should distract themselves with dice cricket, a game beloved by indoorsy British children. Just invent lineups for two 11-member teams—perhaps Democrats v. Republicans, women v. men, or coastal elites v. real America—and then start rolling the dice. If it’s a 1, 2, 4, or 6, the side that’s batting scores that number of runs; 3 scores nothing, 5 is an out. (Commonwealth residents who instinctively yell, “HOWZAT?” when rolling a 5 can follow the strict rules of dice cricket and then roll again to find out how the batter was dismissed—LBW obviously being the coolest option.) Twice through each lineup and impeachment will suddenly seem fascinating, or maybe there’ll be a senatorial delegation to Lord’s this summer.—June Thomas

Improve your penmanship: Cursive is a dying art. The impeachment trial gives senators ample time to practice, all while appearing as if they’re paying careful attention and taking detailed notes. That furrowed brow looks like it’s in response to another bit of nonsense from Rep. Adam Schiff, but no, it’s the face of a senator struggling to recall how to do a cursive z. Cursive is also the scribble franca of the daydream, but where I used to scrawl “Mrs. Heather DiCaprio,” politicos will have other sorts of aspirations: Attorney General Cory A. Booker sure does look pretty in scripty letters.—Heather Schwedel