Monday, June 4, 2018

Making Our Own Fun

Making Our Own Fun
The Bachelorette is back, friends. It's trash, sure, but it is also my favorite guilty pleasure. The sheer absurdity of the show, that a woman will find her soulmate among thirty square-chinned bros, and that two of them will propose to her, and all in the scope of three months, seems surely to have been dreamed up by a sadist. Who would subject themselves to such a contrived and painful experience? And who would watch?

People who don't have the most discerning taste in television: people like me. Still, I find it captivating. Like a lot of reality t.v., there a weird self esteem boost baked into the programming. I feel good about myself because I don't have to jump through these particular hoops to find love. And when I was single, I empathized: if these successful, beautiful people have such a hard time finding their soulmates, then there's an excuse in there for all of us. It really must be hard to find love.

Plus, the show's former spin off, Bachelor Pad, has given us one of the most captivating examples of the prisoner's dilemma.

And though so much of the show is clearly contrived and fake, the emotions seem real. As far as I can tell, these contestants really do fall in love in mere weeks: the emotions seem undeniable, as the men sob uncontrollably during their limousine rides back to LAX, letting the inevitable slip through their blubbering lips: "I really thought she was the one."

Much as it is with drinking, I find that it's better to watch this sort of trash t.v. with friends. If everyone else is doing it, there must not be a problem.

Years ago, we turned watching the Bachelorette and Bachelor into a fantasy-football themed game. We draft a team from the contestants in the first episode, and then your team gets points for every week one of your contestants is still on the show. To add a little more flavor, you get more more points if your contestants do certain things
  • Plus one for getting a rose on a date (one on one, group, or two on one)
  • Minus 1 for a denied fantasy suite (though plus one if contestant denies Becca the fantasy suite)
  • Plus 1 for full nudity (aka "The Johnathan")
  • Minus 1 for being obviously drunk (majority rules on tipsy vs. drunk)
  • Minus 1 for saying any version of "He's here for the wrong reasons." (per show)
  • Plus 2 for cameo back on show 
  • Plus 1 for a direct insult that calls another contestant a name (e.g. - "You're a douche canoe, Jordan."). It must be name calling, not just a criticism, such as, "Your cufflink game is fucking weak, Jayden."
  • Minus 1 for any use of the term "bro", such as "brah" or "Broseph Stalin". (Exception for using the word "brother" meaning one's actual sibling.)
  • Minus 2 for making Becca cry (mean cry) per episode
  • Plus 1 for visible arm pit sweat marks (majority rules on whether dude's arm pit sweat is actually visible)
  • Plus 1 for being preposterously under-dressed at Rose Ceremony (meaning either: a t-shirt without a blazer, sweatpants or athletic pants, or flip flops, or group decision)
  • Plus 1 for saying anything even remotely critical about Becca.
  • Plus 1 for pointing out the absurdity of the show's premise (e.g. "Why would anyone think they'd find love on a show like this?")
As with most things we enjoy, it's really just an excuse to see our friends on the regular. The people we love come over, we share some drinks and food, and we half-watch a couple hours of reality t.v. every week. Plus, the game is something we made up, which is neat. Every season we add some new rules, tweak the format a bit, and change the teams around.

I've found that making our own fun is, well, more fun. More so than the sort of fun we typically just buy: going out to a movie, or yet another restaurant. Buying some random thing for the house. A funny t-shirt.

Our best times tend to be free, or at least pretty cheap. Making some food and sharing it with friends and neighbors. Taking a dip in the pool with the pups once the Arizona temps get ridiculous. Going for a walk and just talking. Playing some cornhole or bocci. Board games aren't exactly free but, after the tenth or twentieth time playing, we're down to pocket change per person.

A big part of what we love about the idea of financial independence is that it offers us the opportunity to make a lot more of our own fun, and in some new ways, too. My current obsession is to tour all around North America with the kids during summer break, camping in National Parks or maybe visiting family for a few weeks straight. I imagine us sitting around the table with a map, asking the kiddos which parks they want to go to. Which order should we see them in? Which highway do we want to take?

Our financial independence itself, the sort of life we'd live once money is completely off the table, is an exercise in creation, too. We find ourselves confronted with the imperative that so many FIRE enthusiasts are: the answer to the question of what we are going to do once we don't need to work. 

We always have to make a life, no matter the financial situation we're in. On some level, nothing really has to change in my life plan after we hit financial independence. And I could have crafted a good, full idea of what I wanted to do with my life at any time.  Maybe I could have already been living that life.

But the framing and motivation sure seem different once we realize all twenty four hours are about to be ours, all day, every day. The best part of FI seems to be that I think about this stuff more: the things I want us to do with our time.

Once we realize it's all in our hands, I feel the nudge to do something about it. 

*Photo is from My Photo Journeys at Flickr Creative Commons.


  1. I feel so bummed that the first impression rose guy is apparently a bigot who hates immigrant children. :(

    Big fan of the Here to Make Friends Huffington Post Feminist podcast about the Bachelor and Bachelor-adjacent shows.

    1. Hey there, N&M! I need to check out that podcast, for sure. It sounds wonderful.

      And yeah, we were super disaapointed in Garret but, luckily, some other team took him first overall so we don't have to feel conflicted about rooting against him now. :)

  2. I'm on the fence about watching this season since SYTYCD is back on and I feel a bit more morally superior watching that then The Bachelorette. lol!!! But I love the idea of the game! It definitely makes it more of an "audience participation" thing. I think the thing about life is finding happiness with where we are at right now, but still aspiring for more, but making sure neither one of those things gets tipped too far.

    1. Psssh. Come on, Tonya. The Bachelorette is the epitome of reality television.

      I like the way you framed the balance between finding happiness with what we've got now, and still trying for something better. That's really the trick, isn't it?

  3. I love this! And I can't believe how detailed you guys got with all the game rules!

    I was just thinking about this the other day: like, what I would do in college for fun, and how much things cost. We mostly spent our time hanging out in each other's rooms and going to house parties. Meals were had in the dining hall, and we weren't fancy enough yet to "go out for drinks." Meanwhile, it was one of the funnest times in my entire life! Just another reminder that you don't need to spend money to have fun, but unfortunately, we get sucked into what the media says is fun.

    1. So true, Luxe. College was a fantastic time and we were flat broke. All we need are good people to hang out with.

  4. Oh my. Well I heartily support the idea of making your own fun, but The Bachelorette? Seriously? OK - it's not fair of me to judge - after all, I did just binge watch 2 entire seasons of the Netflix show Travelers - and your game does sound fun. I've always wondered what people who aren't musicians do when they hang out, because in my circle all social gatherings wind up being a big jam session - so I guess you've answered that question, at least in part. :)

  5. I can get behind this. Just need to get my wife on board. We've certainly watched our share of trashy trash, but this takes the cake my brother! I LOVE the idea of turning this into a FF type of deal.
    BTW - are you still planning to swing through MPLS later this summer?

  6. I watched one season of this because I was trying to fit in at work and the next morning that's all anyone talked about lol. I flipping love your game, and agree that it's the time we spend together that contains the ultimate riches we'll treasure if we're lucky enough to be old on our deathbed, looking back at our lives.

    And I'm really excited to see how you plan out your twenty four hours.