FROM THE STOOL

HAVING FUN IS HARD WORK

It has taken half a century to come to grips with the effort and hard work required to have fun. The Global economy has produced efficiencies which have brought the constant dollar costs associated with having fun down dramatically. Credit is available to almost anyone who works. The demand for recreation, entertainment and travel has increased exponentially. There are more fun options available than any of us have time to enjoy, but we often fail to take advantage of them because of the effort required.

The airline industry and the airports which support it are all but maxed out worldwide. In spite of major expansion, most cruise lines' ships are totally full. Tickets are hard to get or unavailable for major sporting events, Broadway plays, symphony orchestras, rock concerts, operas, auto races and the like.

The Olympic games are sold out, primarily to corporations, years before the first shot is put, and only television allows the world to watch their athletes complete.

To get an in-season booking at the best resort hotels, whether in Beijing or Boca Raton, San Francisco or Singapore, Venice or Vail, often means committing a year in advance. To have fun playing tennis, skiing, scuba diving, hiking, running requires good physical conditioning. In spite of the Bowflex advertorials, getting in shape is more hard work than fun.

I am told that playing golf is fun and as everyone rides around the course, clearly physical conditioning is not required. Getting a tee time, however, except at the most exclusive country clubs, is a daunting task and to play 18 holes requires giving up the better part of a day.

Playing bridge is fun. If you don't particularly care about winning or getting the most out of a hand, it is an ideal setting for good food, conversation and drink. If, however, playing competitively is important, staying current with the latest bidding systems and winning strategies requires hours of study.

Gambling can be fun if the gambler is very disciplined regarding the amounts gambled, or very lucky. It requires more inner-strength than I have ever been able to muster to really enjoy an evening of heavy losses, even if the casino boasts world class restaurants and top flight entertainment.

For the boater, a cruise is the most fun a person can have with pants on. Boats do require, however, constant maintenance and an ever-escalating level of investment.
The most fun for most people requires no clothes no money no travel while intense it is the most satisfying form of exercise. In the absence of performance problems, even as we age it often gets better. Unlike most kinds of recreation, one rarely tires of participating and there is no bad time or place.

All that is needed is a minimum of two like-minded individuals and some privacy. For some couples, particularly those with children at home, it is the privacy issue which adds hard work to the otherwise blissful equation. The right setting often does determine the level of satisfaction, and the likelihood of increased frequency.

A crowded flight and expensive hotel room are a small price to pay for a world-class romp.

There would clearly be fewer relationship problems if we focused on the movie, not the lines and popcorn prices, the sunset, not the airport delays, the well struck backhand not the hours of pain in the gym.