What I Think Is Funny About Fun

I have been on a fun fast. No more fun for me. Not for a while at least. I am as fed up with fun as I am with my dog who does not seem to understand that my bedroom is not a bathroom and that the toilet paper in the bathroom garbage can is not food. After more than two decades spent in wild pursuit of fun I have decided that I want nothing more to do with it. Epicurus, the first great theoretician of pleasure, defined fun as the absence of suffering. He said that a person was having fun to the degree that they were avoiding suffering and since in the long run fun often brings more unhappiness than happiness, Epicurus advised people to cultivate prudence and modesty rather than always trying to have fun. So I have heeded the Epicurean call, put my dancing shoes in the closet and tossed out the three beers and bottle of white wine in my refrigerator. I have told my wife that I will not be having any fun for awhile, but she does not seem to understand.

I was fourteen when I first became obsessed with fun. Up until that point in my life I had not had much fun. Between all the bullying at school, the problems at home and the insecurity and fear that I carried around with me like a heavy backpack, I was too depressed and forlorn for fun. But when I was fourteen and in the back seat of my fathers Mercedes I got my first glimpse of what fun could be. My father was driving and my mother was in the passenger seat. My sister sat by my side in the back and we were on our way to spend a nice Sunday afternoon at the San Francisco modern art museum. We were driving down Broadway, a street lined with strip clubs, liquor stores, a few books stores and some prostitutes. Immediately I lifted my forlorn head, my eyes opened wide as I for the first time saw a world that was completely different from the suburban country club in which I had been imprisoned for many years. I saw the neon nipples that flashed outside of strip clubs, the bare legs of the women who sold their bodies on street corners under the XXX’s that would come to be the object of my attention for many years.  I still remember what it felt like to be sitting in the backseat of my father’s car, longing for the day that I would be old enough to transgress my depression away by having fun in this perverted, subterranean world.

Once I was eighteen years of age I spent my every free moment wandering up and down Broadway. I would get intoxicated in back street bars while trying to read a Jack Kerouac novel (to this day I am yet to finish one from beginning to end). Reading was not as much fun as drinking, watching other people and dreaming about the sexual possibilities that lingered somewhere “out there.” When I had the money I would wander into darkened strip clubs where women would rub there semi-naked bodies against my shivering flesh and ask me to buy them an expensive drink for the time they would spend with me. I was in love with this pornographic cabaret world in which the conservative reality of my parents seemed to disappear. The objects of my desire were all around. I was young and in love with all of them and all I had to do to get them to sit on my lap without clothes on was come up with a certain amount of money. For the first time in my life I was having so much fun that I was rarely able to sleep. Drunk and stoned, wandering from one seedy bar and strip club to another, while writing bad poetry in a tattered journal, this was so much fun. But the funny thing about this kind of fun was that one afternoon, slightly hung over, I walked out onto the street for a cigarette and realized that I was suddenly thirty-four years old.

Most of the friends I had grown up with were married with children. They were already indoctrinated into the world of careers and mortgages while I was still pursuing fun in the form of a naked women, dark bars and bad poetry. I had beatnik aspirations that I felt legitimized my hedonistic lifestyle, but when I was standing on the side of the street that afternoon realizing that I was suddenly thirty-four years old, I also realized that I needed to find a better way to spend my time. I may have thought of myself as a kind of perverted beatnik but it was now the twenty-first century and beatniks had either become bums or artifacts in a museum someplace. My realization struck me like a hot flash of electricity as I looked at the Beat Museum that sat across the street from the strip club where I spent most of my time. I put my cigarette out, swore that I would never smoke again, threw my tattered notebook in the trash and walked away.

Five years have passed since that frightening afternoon and the XXX symbol is no longer the object of my attention. During the past five years I have had to find other ways to have fun. I started doing Yoga until I hurt my neck after getting stuck in a head stand. I learned how to power walk, which was fun for a while but then became a boring way to pass the time. I took up the art of wine drinking and cultured my palate by eating at fine eating establishments. But like Epicurus said the more I pursued pleasure the more miserable I became. When I would have fun I kept wanting to have more fun. It was just like my days spent cocooned away in a strip club- I could never get enough and always was left wanting more. The cycle of my fun addiction was vicious because as much as I tried to have fun and not think about the future, I knew that the fun I was having was short-term gain for long-term economic and psychological pain.

So no more fun. I have been fun free for seven days now. I now do other things with my time. I can find pleasure in smelling a flower, going for a slow walk on a rainy day or spending hours alone in my room writing these ridiculous blog posts. I can sit in meditation for hours on end. I can have prudence by being content with what I have and restrain the constantly nagging desire to go out and get more. I would be lying if I did not admit that there is still this constantly lingering desire within me to go seek out a den of iniquity where women are waiting to intoxicate me with their seductive curves. I often find myself longing for the bare legs of a woman to be wrapped around my chest or the bleached hair of a young lady, who is much to young to be sitting in my lap, blanketing my face. But unlike when I was younger, I now have the inner muscle to stop myself before I let myself go in hot pursuit. I can take deep breaths, recite my cooling mantra and allow my urges and impulses to pass away into the never ending void of time and space. I am proud to admit that I am now old enough to realize that the funny thing about fun is that the only way I can get enough of it is not to have any at all.

My Idea Of Fun

“I am worried that you are not having enough fun in your life,” my wife said to me. “I have had too much fun in my life and now I am having fun not having fun,” I replied. She looked at me like one does when they know that you are lying to yourself. I considered what I had just said to her and then realized that I did not know what I was talking about. “When you go out and have fun, it sustains you into the future. It makes your life a little easier to handle.. a little more enjoyable to live,” my wife said. ” I have fun staying home and reading, writing or watching a movie. I don’t feel the need to go out to have fun,” I replied- but then I thought about what I said. “Am I really having fun staying in all the time, do I really even remember what it feels like to have fun?” I asked myself. “I think you are afraid of fun,” my wife said as she kissed me and left for another evening out with friends that I once again elected myself out of.

I have been staying home a lot lately. My wife goes out and has fun quite often but I stay in. I make up excuses and tell my wife that I have work to do. In reality I am avoiding the world. All through out my twenties and early thirties I indulged in the world. I went out night after night and indulged in what people like to commonly refer to as fun. I socialized, drank too much, smoked weed and went off on insane adventures that lasted until the sun came up. When I turned thirty I decided that friends were a waste of time and I began having fun alone. I spent my weekends and a few weekday evenings and afternoons in various strip clubs where I knew no one and no one knew me. In the darkness I somehow felt complete in my solitude and as I watched naked women dance for me upon a red lit stage- I was the happiest man alive. I would end my evening in massage parlors where I received shiatsu and a hand job- and then return home early the next morning and sleep until noon. This was my idea of fun.

Now that I am married I have lost touch with a feeling of fun. No longer can I hang out in strip clubs and massage parlors without ending up with a twelve pound suitcase filled with guilt and shame. It ain’t worth it. I hate keeping secrets from my wife so I have broken up with my idea of fun. I have few friends that I enjoy spending time with and solitude has become my favorite form of company. Last weekend when my wife and I went on a dinner date with another couple I felt like a man who was wasting his time. I drank too much so that I could force my self to have fun. All I really wanted was to be at home swimming around in the pages of a book.

“You are becoming reclusive and a curmudgeon,” my wife told me the other day. “Why because I don’t like to have fun?” I asked. “You don’t like to do anything,” she said. “That is not true!” I protested quickly. ” “Though doth protest too much…when was the last time that you had fun?” she asked. “I had fun last night being at home alone watching a movie and doing some writing,” I said. But then I thought about what I said. Was I really having fun being home night after night watching movies, writing and reading? Or has doing these things become my idea of fun because I have forgotten how to have fun? Have I given up on fun because I know that it only lasts for a brief period of time before you are right back where you were before that fun began? Fun drops you off right where it left you- stuck in the middle of your life (and usually with a hang over). Is this why I have given up on fun?

And then I realized that my idea of fun was no fun at all. I have become discouraged with fun, I have lost hope in fun. After decades of having fun I am still stuck in the realities of my life. I got tired of the fun ending. No matter how much fun I had the night before my life was still awaiting me in the morning. By refusing fun, I have learned how to stay present in my life. This way I am not disappointed, I am not let down. Fun for me is kind of like a lover who is always making you feel bad in the end. After years and years of this maddening relationship I have broken the cycle. I have left fun for the reality of my life. I have left fun for quiet evenings at home- a relationship that I feel is more dependable and certainly more consistent. “That’s my idea of fun,” I told my wife as I tried to describe why I was no longer interested in having fun.  “Well do not forget,” my wife replied, “tomorrow night is your sister’s birthday and we are going to go out illuminate ourselves out from this funk you live in and have some damn fun!”