“So, what do you do for fun?”
Ugh… I cringe every time these words are uttered on a first date. I will save my feelings interview-dates for another day, but this question is inevitably pointless and terrifying.
Suddenly, there is this need to rattle off a profound list of quirky yet adorable, non-mainstream hobbies. Activities that make a potential partner think, “Hmm, she is unique but not in an off-putting way”, or “That is something I would love, but didn’t know it til now!” Cue Music! Fireworks! Unicorns! True Love Forevers!
By now, several seconds have passed, and I am still just staring blank-eyed at my date. Because who really wants to reply with the honest answer? I do “normal stuff”. You know, read some books, hang with people, try not to let my body become a giant blob, drink stuff, eat food (all kinds!), the occasional binge-watching on Netflix… I mean, I do all of the things! Panic starting to set in. I like to sleep? No, that isn’t a good answer. Yawn. Cue Sad Music. Wilting Flowers. Date Over.
Where is that balance between weird and forgettable? It reminds me of the kids ice-breaker where you say your first name, then an animal with the same letter. (Ah, the joys of alliteration) Monkey, Mouse and Moose were either taken by my turn or “too expected” and I would invariably overshoot, going for something too obscure or with unfortunate connotations. Marmot, Mayfly, Mongoose, Moth, Manatee…. Nothing quite like comparing yourself to a “sea cow” to leave a good impression. My other options left me a stubborn Mule, a kleptomaniac Magpie, an annoying Mosquito, or the regrettable and gross Millipede. There was no winning.
I wish I had a perfected, rom-com ready answer to this that put me in the center of some Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl adorableness (but grounded and attainable) scale. I wish I could say that I hand-crochet swimsuits to sell on Etsy, or I find adoptive homes for stray turtles, or have painted the sunset in every time zone in the world. I wish I could claim even more realistic activities like some kind of home-brewing, crocheting/knitting anything at all, or collecting hand-carved masks from around the globe (actually had an ex who did this… I kinda wanted to “selectively-relocate” those awesome masks to my house)
I do love to travel, but don’t do it enough to claim it as a hobby. I like playing sports and doing things outside, but don’t wanna come off as a jock. I like cooking and baking, but am certainly not some Susie-Homemaker. I like to take mediocre pictures with my phone and filter the heck out of them til they look like art to me, but that’s not really an activity. I like crafting, but really only do it sporadically for holidays or weddings. (I am also pretty sure you are not supposed to mention the word wedding on any date, even in reference to your secret talent for making silk-flower boutonnieres)
Most people are interesting and unique, but rarely in a one-liner kind of way. So can we just ban this question and assume that pretty much everyone likes watching movies and having friends? Let’s just let the quirks and hobbies be uncovered naturally over time. Unless you are absolutely defined by one activity in your life, there is no way to answer this without giving a skewed, partial image of the whole. A misleading trailer to what could be a great movie. Which isn’t really fair to either of us.
Besides that, I am likely to over think it, overshoot normal and accidentally call myself a Mongoose.