Sunday, July 09, 2006

Fun In The Sun

A theme that is heard over and over again on JDate and in real life is fun.

”I am passionate about enjoying my life”“
“I am a “liver” (I think she is referring not to the organ but to the opposite of someone who is not into living), and would like someone who also enjoys life”
“Life is not a dress rehearsal and I try to enjoy every minute of it.”
“I am easygoing and lots of fun”
“I am a life-lover; I am outgoing, upbeat, fun-loving and positive. When I am away, my friends miss me to death” (I liked this last quote, beginning with life and ending with death is very a neo-Wagnerian theme. The Rhinemaiden frolicking motif shows this woman knows her opera.)
“I never have a bad day and the word stress is not in my vocabulary.”(And Rabbi Eliashav doesn’t believe in evolution. When I read this line I saw a new human life form in the making. All we need is for this man to find his mate and propagate on a remote island, and voila’ a new Galapagos.)
“Life is so much more fun when love walks in”
‘‘I enjoy good times.’’ (If the man didn’t enjoy the time could he still refer to it as a good time?)


I have noticed different states and regions in the country specialize in different ideals of fun. The southern tier, but especially Florida and Arizona, are fun-fun-fun places. The many retired people, the requirement that intellectuals need a special visa before being allowed to enter, and the wonderful weather all contribute to this hysterical “I live life to the fullest” mantra. The guy could be on a golf cart with a caddy in some Sun City ‘moshav zekanim’ (retirement community), but he’s having fun, living life to the fullest, enjoying every minute of it.

New York and Connecticut are less into raw fun .There culture prevails: theatre, art, museums, galleries, opera, and Lincoln Center. Art with a capital A is what makes life worthwhile. New Jersey, on the other hand, is, as everyone knows, a very complicated state. The communities that are close to the city are more aspirational culture vultures. They actually don’t get into the city THAT much, the schlep and the parking, and the need to drive the baby sitter back home makes traveling across the Hudson difficult. But they really, really love the City. In Central Jersey and the Jersey Shore, I’ve noticed a new theme begin to emerge. There is this strange yearning to walk barefoot on the beach. It’s a romantic theme. All these people eventually buy a condo in Boynton or Pompano and turn into the sandy version of fun-fun-fun. Down south near Princeton and Philadelphia, ideals gradually merge into the Baltimore/ Washington style, which I would describe as gracious living even if it hurts.

I don’t know what to make of this fun thing. I imagine my descendant someday meeting my namesake, my great grandfather in the world whose name is Truth, and asking him,”Nu was it fun? Did you and bubbi at least have fun?” He would look and look and look in utter disbelief. I can hear his answer.” What can I tell you, it was fun. The shtetl, the poverty, the loving goyim were all fun. World War 1, with Russian and German armies crisscrossing the countryside more fun. The rampant inflation that followed the war was so enjoyable. We had to carry sacks of money to get on the tram. It was wonderful. But the best was reserved for last. What can I tell you? I understand your question and the answer is yes, living under Hitler was simply amazing! Bubbi and I had lots and lots of fun.” I can hear him mumbling under his breath, “Where did I go wrong?”

My question is this: When did American Jewish life switch from immigrant values to the idea that we are here on this planet for the purpose of having fun?

4 Comments:

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous MF said...

Your question: "When did American Jewish life switch from immigrant values to the idea that we are here on this planet for the purpose of having fun?"

My answer: once they were here three generations.

Great quote supporting my answer: our second President, John Adams: "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

Theoretical point: when someone else pays for (that is, worries about) your survival for you, you then take your survival for granted, and therefore instead can spend all your time worrying about having fun. This is some odd corrolary to the Maslow hierarchy of needs here, too.

-M

 
At 12:06 PM, Anonymous MF said...

PS - I just read the original post to S, and when I was about to read my response, she stopped me first and said, "Does your response relate to your 'three generations and you're out' idea?" and I said, "exactly!". I often propose (mostly joking!) that we should throw everyone out of the country once they've been here three generations, precisely for the reasons you imply in your post...

-M

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger LitaLives said...

You continuously confuse me as to where you stand on the religous spectrum. At one point you poke fun at one of the greatest commentators of our day yet further on you speak about the Olam Emes. Make up your mind already!!

 
At 1:01 PM, Anonymous MF said...

Lita - Evanston Jew, in the subtitle of his blog, says that he is a "contrarian" -- and therefore, by definition, he is more religious than the secular Jews, but less religious than the religious Jews! Always being on the outskirts (and thus never fitting in anywhere) is the fate of the contrarian... on the positive side, this is also why Evanston Jew is able to easily poke fun both at the religious and secular Jews equally...

-M

 

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