What’s All The Fuss About “Fun?”

Daniel Kempner
MDI Contributor

Let’s talk about fun. I mean, I really need to talk about fun. Fun is … well, it’s a thing you have, right? Not a thing you do. It’s a thing you create rather than purchase by the yard.

“Let’s have a little fun tonight, fellas, what do you say?” “Do you like to have fun?”

“Okay, but what is it?”

Well, one division meeting in a Massachusetts state park began with a man bringing a bunch of nylon pantyhose, sliding tennis balls down the legs, and tying a pair around everyone’s waist. As I remember it, we ran around trying – using only the low-hanging balls for knockers – to get a soccer ball through the other team’s goal. Was it fun? Hell yes. We laughed our asses off.

Another meeting we did “haiku,” a bunch of lugs attempting to best each other with their silliest 5-7-5 syllable combinations. Most of them, I remember, ended with “refrigerator.” Did we think that was fun? Damn straight it was. It was talked about for months.

What about a sports night, as my division did once? Or a movie trivia challenge. Maybe even a sort of online Jeopardy game would be cool. Fun? Sure, most of the men thought so. All terrific. These were all enjoyable things to do.

But I’ll tell you the most fun I can ever have at a men’s team meeting, or anywhere else: watching a man make critical changes to save his marriage. Or a man gutting through a tough battle to repair the relationship with one of his children. Seeing a man go deep, deeper than he thought possible, trusting the other men, having them witness for him, guide him, metaphorically cradle him, push him, kick his ass, or whatever it takes to engage his low gears and begin the long, slow grind up his hill. 

To see that shift, that motion, to help a man willfully set out towards greatness. Jesus, how could any game or poetry slam or whatever be more fun than that? Do those things make me laugh? No. Not a chance. Are they incredibly exhilarating? Are they thrilling? Does that shit excite me? Yes.

Is that what fun is? Hell yes. For me, that’s it. 

I have never understood why games were seen as necessary. They are all things that can be done in any context, with almost anyone. Kids. Schoolmates. Women. Strangers attending the same event. That stuff’s available at millions of venues outside a men’s team. The other thing isn’t. It just isn’t. 

Men making powerful change is fostered by men getting together to create powerful change. We do that in team meetings and in few other places. We put just a tiny fraction of our time into the most important stuff we do. And then we take time away from even that time to have “fun” when the work itself, the deep, hard shit, is more fun yet?

But wait, many will say. We need those games to be present, to get out of our heads.

Really? It sure doesn’t do that for me. It might tickle me. It often tires me. And it usually bores me. But it absolutely doesn’t get me “out of my head.”

You know what does? Sure you do. Because you remember how still, how concentrated, how utterly locked-in and silent men can be when the real work is going on. And when the pin drops … when some man dives into the crucible and demands the heat, we hear him. Hell, that stuff gets the rest of us to vibrate in some cool frequency, some team ESP, we never achieve playing panty-ball or bingo.

And while I’m at it, I recently became aware of a term I’d never hear before, and one I disliked. That dislike has grown to loathing as the phrase has proliferated. At a recent meeting, for example, the leader said crisply, “OK men, after we’ve checked in, we’re going to have a fun. Then we’ll have circle time.”

A fun? Really? We’re going to have “a” fun? As though fun is a thing that can be rolled in and out like a breakfast cart? I don’t know where the term came from, but if I did I’d send it back, pronto. Holy mackerel I hate that term.

So look, I know all men are different. Some like to play games, or to make up haiku or any one of a thousand things that give people zest and pleasure. They give me pleasure, too. So, to that I say, go! Play those games, write those poems.

Have a wonderful time.

Then, when you’ve rested, go to your men’s team meeting. Listen with all your ears to the other men. To their stumbling blocks. Their desires. Their commitments. Hell, listen even more for their bullshit and tell them in no uncertain terms that they’re stepping in it.

I can’t speak for all men but for me? That is fun. It’s all the fun I need. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *