I recently used the word “fun” in a negative light. My wife asked my why and I said, respectfully, that it wasn’t a quick conversation. And it’s not. Not for me.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that I am, like it or not, an autistic of a sort. Not your normal breed, but it’s somewhat sadly hilarious that I spent most of my adult life telling people I’d just met, “I’m half human, half Vulcan,” without ever considering it was more than a Star Trek reference, an “easy” way to explain I was different than your typical neurotypical. And that’s the thing. I’m not neurotypical. If I sit down at a bar and someone talks to me, and if I’ve loosened my tongue a bit, I will at some point explain my half Vulcan origins and, at least if I’m lucky, be allowed to explain, at length, how I’ve ripped even the most straight forward human statement into it’s base elements. And that’s true for my thoughts on the word “fun”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like to have fun as much as the next person. But at least I’m honest about it. Fun for me consists of having a few cigars, drinking four or five shots of whiskey, and ideally getting laid. If I’m really lucky it’s having a deeply meaningful connection with another human being (although that happens less often than the smokes and whiskey, and a lot more frequently than the sex). But that really doesn’t dig into what I think of when I think of the word “fun”.
I sometimes hope that this blog will be around in a thousand years so people of the future, after America crumbles and the world has become a very different place, are able to trace my thoughts. I honestly think someone from a thousand years hence will make more sense of my words than one of my modern day peers. Because the thing is, the modern human being is addicted by “fun”.
In this sense the word, to me at least, at its very basic, means putting one’s own ego and self gratification ahead of everything else. And it’s something (most) people do without thinking about it. And this is why it’s hard to explain for me. Because I’ve been at that party or get together when someone crosses a line and I’m the one person that stops, steps aside, and decides not to have fun. I decide not to placate my ego. Maybe a bunch of guys are drunk off their asses and laughing and one makes a joke and I notice that one person in a corner who was hurt by it while everyone else is laughing their asses off. I’m the guy that goes into the corner and asks if that person is okay. Because I’m not “fun”. And yes, I’ve been told that before. And I’ve lost a lost of friendships because of this non-neurotypical behavior before. You non-neurotypicals will know what I’m talking about it. The rest of you will think, oh yeah, I’m that person, I’m the person that went to that other person’s aid because I saw it wasn’t “fun” but it was ego. I can assure you, yes, as a neurotypical you’ve sometimes done this. I can also assure you as a non-neurotypical watching you on repeated playback, I’ve seen plenty of times where you don’t.
Say, for example, someone you love tells you something will hurt them. They’ve talked to you about it. They’ve written to you about it. They’ve even told you what they need you to do in a given set of circumstances. Then those circumstances comes up—but you don’t do shit. Why? Because it’s not fun. Maybe you’re out with friends celebrating and stepping back to “do the right thing” means you’re going to be the designated party pooper. Maybe it means you’re going to look the fool in front of family and friends while you right the ship. But essentially it means, you’re okay with the status quo. You may be uncomfortable (and rightly so) but you’re willing to choose what’s “fun” for you and the group over what you know isn’t fun but is right, both short and long term. You make the choice to do something that’s expedient and makes you feel the least amount of pain and suffering even when you absolutely know in the long term it means anything but.
A long time ago I blogged about a situation in my own life that was an excellent example. As I’m not really interested in going into details again (except to those who really want to know), the short story is I’d made a friend in Eugene during the late 90’s when I had no friends. At the same time I made another friend in Portland over the internet, when I had no friends. I learned Portland friend was suicidal and had a shit ton of emotional issues. And later learned that Eugene friend had met Portland friend (yeah, what are the odds of that?—in my life: 100%) and wanted to go live with him and that he’d been lying about who and what he was about. So I spent two days going through hell but decided to not have “fun”. I asked him to be honest with her. He accused me of not being a friend and begged me not to “tell”. Long story short, they both ended their friendship with me, she moved up with him, and when I heard from her again I’d learned he was a drug addict that gave her cancer or some shit and she couldn’t have kids. Cherry on top was after she told me she didn’t want to be my friend either because she didn’t want to hear about what she put me through. It wasn’t “fun”.
I can simplify it further with a series of moral equations. If “fun” is a thing then the alternative to it is “responsibility”. Both have a meaningful place in life. “Fun” includes things like smoking, drinking, painting, watching television, going antique shopping, hanging out with family and friends. “Responsibility” might include things like doing the laundry, paying the bills, putting in your eight hour work days, and driving to your mom’s when she can’t figure out how to do something on the computer. Fun is staying up all hours of the night. Responsibility is going to bed at a set bedtime. Fun is playing with the cats. Responsibility is feeding the cats, cleaning the liter box, and paying attention to when they might need to go to the vet.
That’s about the simplest I can explain what those two terms mean to me, and why, sometimes, I’ll use the term “fun” in a negative context. Because, future person, one of the reasons my world is fucked is because people in countries like America, even the best people, put fun over responsibility. We’ll be more inclined to purchase a new car that destroys the planet when we don’t need one, because it’s fun, it has (what we call) that “new” car smell. It’s easy. It’s cozy. It makes us feel good in the moment. But it’s not the same thing as hitting the breaks and asking ourselves what’s really important. Would I really like a new car, when in truth it’s only going to give me satisfaction for a month or two, or is it maybe more important to not get that car because it’ll be better over the long run? If, maybe, when I see that person in the corner who’s obviously experience trauma isn’t it better in the long run, both for them and us, if I ask them how they’re doing and maybe, just fucking maybe, especially if it’s necessary, standing up to the bullies in the room and stating, with no uncertainty, that how they behaved is shameful, that I don’t care what I lose, short or long term, until they correct their behavior? Or shall I skirt the issue, pretend it’ll just pass like someone’s bad gas, and move on despite the extremely obvious evidence that not doing anything is a cancer that destroys?
So I haven’t done this any justice. But when I get angry about “fun” this is what I mean. People putting their own needs first. Because you can have a good time, but when someone says, “We’re just trying to have fun!”—and often when they won’t even admit it to themselves—and when they’re are negative results from them staying on the easy course, I call that the addiction to fun. The addiction to easy. The predilection for putting responsibility behind what’s comfortable and feels good. In my experience being a good person doesn’t always feel good. In fact, sometimes it feels goddamn horrible. But that also means IMHO you’re doing something right.
Until the flip.