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In the Fun House

January 30, 2024

I recently asked myself, “E, when was the last time you had FUN?” 

I gotta tell you, E was stumped. First of all, define fun, right? When I think of my funnest times, I think of watching standup comedy and reading funny books and enjoying funny movies…hmmm, I guess those are not very participatory. Common understandings of “fun” are more along the lines of “running barefoot in the rain,” or “sticking your hands in the air on a roller coaster” or “playing dodge ball on a mission trip” (I actually did this last one, and fun is the last word I’d use to describe this sadistic youth group game, played by hurling a ball at full speed towards someone’s stomach or head).

I can’t very well continue down the road of life having zero fun, right? So, I checked and Eureka! I discovered the burgeoning consulting business known as “fun coaching.” Seems folks are paying the big bucks to hire someone who will reconnect them (and/or their office team) with simple childhood joys. Imagine paying a “coach” to teach adults to blow bubbles, to skip rope, to romp! According to my research, one can spend an average of $125 a session (4 sessions minimum!) to re-learn playdoh pummeling, hopscotch, and finger painting. The websites wax rhapsodic about our neglected need to belly laugh, to play with abandon, to channel our inner toddlers.

My visual image of these shenanigans? The HR department, clad in office casual, reduced to clapping their hands delightedly as a Jack-in-the-Box pops up. Yippee!

I suppose, for some, “fun” is an alien concept that must be carefully taught, and maybe hiring a fun coach is the way to go. But I think if you have to study fun, you’re missing the whole point—much like repeatedly pinching someone to teach them how to be sad (which might work in a “pinch”—sorry!—if you were applying to be a professional mourner). “Fun” is, I feel, completely subjective (some of the church youth seemed to really enjoy throwing balls at me. Go figure.)

Just in case I’m missing out, though, I’m planning to hire my own personal “fun coach." My ideal teacher is 11 months old, spends large chunks of the day chuckling manically over absolutely nothing, and delights in smearing mashed potato in their hair. This happy kid would inspire by example, and would never expect a 67-year-old woman to join in the jolly potato hair massage. No, my fun coach would totally support me doing what I already DO for fun--writing essays, mindlessly surfing the internet, and eating the elaborate, highly caloric desserts I bake, ostensibly for the other people in the house, but really for me.

Best of all, I could probably get away with paying my coach in Peppa Pig stickers.

Meanwhile, I’ll get tons of enjoyment watching those trendy “fun coaching” companies gradually fade away, as we all return to our natural feelings of impatience, anger and fear. Back to normal!

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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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