I was at a loss for words. I prefer minimal conversation from cashiers because it tends to slow them down, and I’m busy watching to make sure everything scans at the right price (I tend to modify my shopping list to take advantage of sales). I’m okay with a friendly greeting, maybe a comment or two about the weather, and the ubiquitous “Plastic bags okay?” and “Any stamps or ice today?” I can even tolerate an occasional nod at my groceries (“Wow, those are great strawberries!”). But asking about my personal life? It seems to me that he crossed a line of propriety there.
What fun have I had lately? A couple of inadvisable-to-mention activities were all that immediately came to mind. So as the cashier continued looking at me expectantly, I simply said, “Hmm, not that I can think of.”
I thought that would be the end of the awkward exchange, but he went on to offer commentary. “No fun? That’s not good for you! You gotta have fun to stay healthy!” I just smiled stiffly, muttered agreement, and turned to my husband, who was at the end of the conveyor belt showing up the bagger, and had thus escaped the inquisition.
Once we were back in the privacy of our car, I told my husband about the odd question. He agreed that it was a little bit inappropriate, but he effortlessly moved past it. I couldn’t. I wanted to think of what I could have said, and it bothered me that I was still at a loss to name anything fun I’d done lately.
Rather than thinking of fun activities, all I could think of were the daily activities I enjoy. Eating dinner with my family. Playing with my kids. Snuggling with my husband. No fun in there—at least, not the kind the cashier was looking for a report on—just mundane, domestic enjoyment.
Is that enough? Or am I fun deficient?
I don’t really feel like I am. There are a lot of activities I probably would have fun doing, if I did them. But I don’t have a deep yearning to go out and do anything in particular, nor anything in general. So I don’t often do things worthy of mentioning to a cashier. Does this make me lazy? Should I want more fun? Should I actively seek more fun? Am I content . . . or complacent?
Aside from work, my husband’s activities are mostly limited to the same things I do, so he hasn’t been having any “fun,” either. “Are you happy with your life?” I suddenly asked him.
“Ecstatic,” he replied, without even a trace of sarcasm.
“Do you feel like you need to do more fun activities?”
“Not at all.”
Then I began worrying about the kids. Do they need more fun? I knew they would say yes. Kids are always up for fun. Short of physical exhaustion, no matter how much fun you make accessible to them, it’s never enough. Kids run on fun. So their diagnosis of “we need more fun” is not necessarily reliable. But are they having as much fun as they “should” have? Probably not, seeing as they live with two apparently fun-eschewing parents.
Do they need more trips? More extracurricular activities? More enrichment? More spending money?
Does having more fun make a child happier, healthier, and better prepared for a productive, fulfilling life? At what point does having a child-rearing philosophy of the-more-fun-the-better cross over from “creating a good childhood” into “raising Paris Hilton”?
After talking with the kids about the fun they’ve had recently and are scheduled to have in the near future, I decided they’re not as fun deficient as I initially feared. But should we, as a family (or as individuals), be having more fun?
Imagine if I’d launched this stream of consciousness on the cashier. That’d teach him to ask personal questions.