I am naturally a very curious person. I don’t remember myself as a child besides through pictures in which I mostly have very bad haircuts, but I am guessing I about drove my folks crazy with questions. And to this day, I love a good question and answer session.
I am not dangerously curious. You won’t find me ambulance chasing, rushing into a fire to determine the cause, looking too far over the edge of a cliff, or deep sea diving to open a treasure chest (although I might wait on the shore just to see what they brought up).
There are some very positive things about being curious. I read once that curious people are more intelligent, and that asking questions which connect people might just be the glue that holds our society together. Not to be a martyr, but can you imagine if my good-natured cross-examination was somehow saving the world one inquiry at a time?
Admittedly, I am a relentless speculator. Good or bad, I always have a question. When my brother and a friend visited at Christmas, we decided to get out of the house for a minute and drove around a new housing development in my neighborhood.
“Wonder why they angled that house so that the front door is not facing the street?” I asked. They both shrugged their shoulders.
“Hadn’t thought about it,” they said, nearly in unison. Clearly not curious.
When I watch a movie with my husband, I am constantly analyzing a character’s motivation or what will happen next. While I am wondering if Julia will return to the site of the murder or why she can’t stop her love of bad boys, I can guarantee you my husband is thinking more about whether I stole the last piece of buttered popcorn.
Case in point was when we watched a war movie on a chilly COVID Friday night from the comfort of our couch.
“It seems strange to me that the other guys in his unit didn’t notice the same things he did. Do you think maybe they really did know what was going to happen but just couldn’t bring themselves to talk about it?” I say to the hubs.
“Hmmm,” he grunts. “Don’t know.” That’s it? You don’t know? Aren’t you curious?
It doesn’t get a lot better with the next generation at our house. My daughter likes Star Wars movies, and I don’t. I have tried to sit down and watch with her, but she doesn’t appreciate having to talk me through all the questions I have.
“What was the problem between the Jedi and the Dark Side Force to begin with?” I ask, secretly sort of proud of myself for even remembering some of the names.
“I am not sure; we just know that they fought, the Jedi won, and the Dark Side wants revenge,” she said fairly patiently.
“But isn’t the whole thing sort of based on that feud from long ago?” I try again. “Hard for me to believe it would just carry on all these years and through all these generations and galaxies without it being something big.”
“Probably,” she says, dismissing me and my curious mind. I didn’t even get to ask about the whole Luke and his father thing I saw in a meme.
I have tried to build some curiosity into others. At family dinners, when there is a conversation lull, I coax them into playing Rapid Fire.
This is not a food fight, but a question game, where you ask a question, and the person answering has only ten seconds to answer. My family has begun calling the person answering the question The Victim, so you now have an idea of their enthusiasm level.
The last time we played, I offered them the chance to go first, but neither of them could think of a question. What? There is no burning unanswered inquiry you just have to make? Undeterred, I volunteered to go first.
“Do you think aliens exist?” I asked my daughter. And she replied immediately, no hesitation.
“Wow! Why do you think that?”
“Well, to be honest, I think they may have taken over your body, with all your weird questions,” she said. Hateful, just hateful.
My husband smiled at me sympathetically and told me he would play, but I didn’t fare a lot better with hm.
“Okay,” I said and leaned in toward him to show my interest, one of my favorite questioning postures.
“What is your favorite song ever?”
“From what genre?” he replied.
“Any genre. Just your favorite song.”
“Could it be something from a long time ago, or do you mean something newer?’
“From any time period.”
“Do you mean from a soloist or a band?” At this point, I was ready to try the hateful kid again.
I am pretty persistent with my pursuit of turning my family into inquisitors. I have unashamedly purchased 20 Questions books or Would You Rather card games for our vacations and long car rides and used them as stocking stuffers. They would rather have candy or socks.
I have been known to ask new couples friends how they met or what their first apartment or home was like. Once when I was interviewing for a job, they asked if I had any questions, and I pulled out a list. Probably not what they anticipated, but I got the job.
I don’t consider myself nosey or snoopy, like the stock characters on TV, who are just all up in somebody else’s business. I don’t really meddle or intrude…most of the time.
I can, however, tell you where my neighbor went to college and where she grocery shops, how much the parking lot attendants at a local event center make per hour, and whether the ladies at my favorite craft store have to supply their own scissors when they work or if the store graciously provides them.
You would suppose that a person as curious as me would have inadvertently discovered a disease cure or made a scientific advancement with all my questions, but thus far, I have to admit I have not unearthed anything of much significance. I am not stopping, though. Wanna’ know why?
Did you know that “Curiosity killed the cat” is only the first part of that familiar phrase? The second half is ,“And satisfaction brought him back.”
Cathy is a retired public school English teacher and Public Information Officer.