Have you noticed this irritating trend?
You’re paying for your stuff at the grocery store, or wherever, and the clerk, all bright-eyed and coached up, asks: “Got any big plans for the weekend?”
It’s epidemic. And it needs to stop.
I had only recently made my peace with this invasive phrase’s less-nosey cousin, “How has your day gone so far?, after it replaced the classic “How are you?”
Why is this worse? That’s easy. Because “How has your day gone so far?” and “How are you?” can easily be answered by “Fine.” Yes, moving on. We’re not here to make friends.
“How are you?” sufficed since Cavewoman first slapped on an animal skin onesie and bought mastodon bone broth. Why must we now have to feel just a little awful because a complete stranger has shamed us into revealing we actually don’t have any plans, big or small, for the weekend. To take it further, until that very moment, in fact, we were feeling pretty good about having two whole days stretching ahead of us with zero demands, our only “plans” consisting of not wearing a bra for 48 straight hours and watching six unwatched episodes of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with a cat or two on my lap. For example.
But now, Judgy McJudgerson is standing there, waiting for me to respond, to share, to — for the love of God — bond with him, simply because I needed a ripe avocado for my morning toast.
The first time I noticed it was when I had gone to the grocery to buy a couple of packs of adult diapers and the twin-pack of Miralax for Aunt Verlie.
“Do you have any big plans for the weekend?” the clerk asked.
I had to skip a beat because, well, diapers and Miralax. Finally, I just looked him in the eye and gestured toward the lone contents of my cart: “Welllll, obviously!”
I’ve decided to give this question the attention it deserves. To make it really worth everyone’s while so to speak.
Here are some answers the next time I hear…
“Do you have big plans for the weekend?”
“Yes, I’m going to help Jackie Chan fight the Hong Kong mafia. Jackie’s bringing the grenades and I’m making that Buffalo Chicken Dip. Hence the ranch dressing.”
“Yes, I do! I’m going to have my entire back tattooed with a full-color representation of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez inside a heart or, if that’s too difficult, the Chinese symbol for “Gluten sensitive.”
“No! Not yet! Will you please be my friend for the weekend? I’ve lived in this town for 36 years and Not One Friend. Here’s my phone. Just put your number in my contacts so we can text. What time do you get off? I haven’t seen “I, Tonya,” yet ...”
“Yes, since you ask. I’m going to tamper with the brakes of a few of mine enemies because I’m the right arm and shield of the fallen archangel Lucifer. Oh, crap. I forgot milk.”
— Wilmington, North Carolina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.