One of the funniest essays I have read comes from Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate. In it she describes a list of F words central to her Chinese immigrant family, and among them is the word “fun.” It’s funny to me because she’d might as well be describing my own life.
A combination of personality, culture and circumstances led my mother to raise me into believing that FUN is an evil temptation, a privilege to be enjoyed only after all dues have been paid, and then only in moderate doses. It’s the human equivalent to ice cream or supermarket cupcakes with blue frosting. Take a bite but only after you have eaten all your vegetables, meat, fish, grain and dairy and done your jumping jacks.
As a sheltered teenager my main indulgences were Seventeen magazine, General Hospital and Duran Duran (anything). Boys and kissing (or more) came in the form of visions and took place just inside my head. But I wasn’t allowed to enjoy these things until after all the homework was done and after my room and/or the house was cleaned. On weeknights it was just work. On weekends by the time all the “important” things were done the sun had already set, and my sheltered life precluded any noctural adventures unless they took place inside a television set. I remember getting caught with my Seventeen magazine inside my biology textbook on a Saturday afternoon and listening quietly to Dr. Ruth on the radio past 9 p.m. on Sundays (what I would do with all that information I learned I had no idea). I just consider myself lucky that my boyfriends were all invisible.
I don’t know if there is any connection, but as an adult I then spent nearly a decade in what has to be one of the most un-fun societies in the world (Japan). The Japanese bring workaholic to a completely new level. Stay-at-home mothers hand make their children’s book bags and smocks and make animal- and flower-shaped food for their children’s lunches. Businessmen stay in the office until the last train, usually around midnight.
So where does that leave me, on my first ever staycation? I’m going on Day 11 and I am having alot of trouble having fun. Call it poor planning, or the wrong attitude, but I feel I’ve wasted nearly my whole staycation. I’ve checked my work email (and done work) at least 4 or 5 times. I’m doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom. I’m standing in line at the bank and the grocery store. I’m fighting with customer service reps about an erroneous charge on my credit card bill. I’m sitting in traffic doing drop off and pick up at Fred’s camp. Doesn’t sound too different from a regular day in the life of me during the slow part of my work season.
But I did manage to do a few things this past week-and-a-half that I haven’t made a consistent habit of doing:
- Used the dishwasher (heavenly!)
- Got a massage
- Went to the movies
In fact, yesterday – with three days left in my staycation – is when I decided to put together a list of my top grown-up indulgences, and they include (in no particular order):
- nice smelling bath and relaxation products
- good tea
- chocolate and wine
I’m going to fill our home with these things, and up until my shopping trip yesterday I already had half this list. So with two hours to spare before picking Fred up, I drove to our nearest shopping mall and did a mini-shopping spree at Bath and Body Works. With their special promotions and coupons I was able to stock up enough to start a mini at-home spa on less than $40, and I stocked up on great teas and chocolates at the nearby gourmet store’s summer inventory sale. We’ve been bathing on Lever soap bars since 2008, because you can get these packs of 16 at Costco for under $8. But there comes a time when you need to splurge on $12 fruity shower creme since nothing is more expensive than insanity. Just ask my husband. (He is telling me, “Go! Go shop! Please!”)
So I say, what the fun – I’m going to do it!
What do you do for fun? What are your indulgences?