Since my kids were first born, I’ve been telling them that one of our family’s primary rules is: No Fun! The reason for this rule is simple: Fun, invariably, leads to head injuries. They are certainly allowed to have a pleasant, good experience. They are welcome to have an enjoyable time. In fact I encourage it. But they may not, under any circumstances, have fun.
This has become somewhat of a running thing with my family and friends — neices and nephews know the rule and make sure to tell me what they think of it all the time. Most recently my nephew, who is also my Godson, gave me a homemade card for Father’s Day which was entirely made up of attempts to prove, once and for all, that fun is acceptable. Well, for his fifteenth birthday this past week, I felt I needed to give him a heartfelt reply to his thoughtful Father’s Day gift. Fifteen minutes before it was time to leave to go to his party, I came up with the idea. And here it is in its pure, unedited form.
Eh? What’s that you say, Sonny? You want to have fun? Fun? Really, now…
You think fun is okay? You think fun is nothing particularly dangerous, just another run-of-the-mill three-letter-word that implies frolicking and laughs and giggles? Really? Well, my boy, you should consider rethinking your opinion about this evil, dangerous little word. Especially now that you are fifteen and are reaching an age where, soon enough, you’ll be telling stories about the good old days whilst lecturing youngsters about how things were when you were their age…
Now, recite for me the sad, sad tale of Harvey S. Whombaker.
What’s that you say? You don’t know who Harvey S. Whombaker was? Eh? Don’t you pay attention in school?
What? You do pay attention in school and they’ve never mentioned Harvey S. Whombaker? Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle… what are our tax dollars paying for if schools don’t talk about Harvey S. Whombaker and his tragic tale anymore. When I was your age, all we did was talk about Harvey S. Whombaker! Yes, it’s a terrible tale, but it’s a lesson everybody should learn by the time they reach their teens. I’ll bet they don’t talk about Harvey S. Whombaker anymore because someone decided that it was too much trauma to kids’ “delicate, fragile, little minds” to hear such tales of reality. I’ll bet someone in charge—probably the same person who decided that everyone who plays a sport deserves a trophy for “trying hard” when, back in my day, you only got a trophy for winning!— I bet that person said in their tiny, whiney voice: “Oh, no, we can’t talk about Harvey S. Whombaker anymore! It’s not a fun story and kids today need fun stories in order to keep them engaged and enthusiastic for school and life and playing their rock and roll and other children’s music on their wax cylinders and their EyePogs and their whosits and whatnots.”
Aww, look. I’m so upset about this, I just spilled my coffee!
Kids today need fun stories? Really? I’ll tell you what kids today need! They need a swift kick in the butt, that’s what they need! They don’t need trophies for finishing last! They need to be told, in no uncertain terms: “You lost! Get over it! If you want a trophy, WIN next time!” That’s what Harvey S. Whombaker would have said and that’s why it is so tragic that his tale is not being taught in our over-priced, underperforming schools.
But I digress….
Where was I?
Oh, Harvey S. Whombaker. Right. So, since you know not of the tale, nor of the origin of the National Organization Fighting Unlawful Nonsense (NOFUN), I will briefly describe the tale to you.
Harvey S. Whombaker was a mild-mannered 15 year old boy from the town of Squaresvillingtonton. He was a boy like any other—he enjoyed vegetables, rocks, trees, pulling weeds and mowing the lawns of his neighbors. And, really, what else is there for a teenaged boy to do or think about?
Well, one day, Harvey S. Whombaker was out in the field, working to cut down some invasive bindweeds that had taken root in Sally Fally’s broccoli garden in the valley. Sally Fally was the smartest, prettiest girl in all of Squaresvillingtonton and Harvey S. Whombaker was sweet on her. He didn’t realize it–though the rest of the town did–but she was kind of sweet on him, too. The fact that he didn’t realize this should not be a surprise, even to you kids of today, because, as I said, there were few things that could invade a boy’s mind when it was full of rocks (and trees and vegetables and mowing and bindweeds).
But on this fateful day, so long ago, Harvey S. Whombaker was in the field on a blazing hot afternoon, covered in dirt and mud, his arms and hands ripped apart by the bindweeds he was pulling. Some of the other boys from the neighborhood came out and they started playing fieldball (Since you don’t know the story of Harvey S. Whombaker, you certainly don’t know that fieldball is an ancient predecessor for today’s football, played with large boulders and, of course, beets.). They convinced Harvey to leave the bindweeds for later and join them.
Harvey turned out to be a natural at fieldball. He was tossing and catching the boulders, dodging and weaving past the whizzing beets, scoring goal after goal. After his thirteenth goal, he looked up and saw her – Sally Fally, standing there with the sun right behind her, making her beautiful hair shimmer and shine with a brightness he had never seen. She offered him a jug of fresh water from the well and he started walking toward her. Suddenly, a giant boulder, tossed by one of the other fieldball players who assumed Harvey was paying attention, came down from the sky – seemingly from out of nowhere – and hit Harvey square on the head.
And that, my friend, is when Harvey S. Whombaker discovered gravity.
What’s that you say?
Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity?
Yes, yes, I have heard that tale, too. I wasn’t born yesterday after all. But, you see, Harvey S. Whombaker discovered gravity first – a full thirteen years before Sir Isaac Newton did. But nobody remembers Harvey or acknowledges his amazing accomplishment and I’ll tell you why: Harvey S. Whombaker was busy having fun for the first time in his 15 years on the planet when he discovered gravity. Sadly, the fun he was having led, as fun always does, to a head injury.
And thanks to the head injury, Harvey S. Whombaker could not remember his discovery of gravity.
So why do we remember Sir Isaac Newton? Well, I’ll tell you – he was sitting by a tree, his mind filled with pleasant, good, experiences with things such as calculus and physics, when an apple fell, seemingly out of nowhere and hit him on the head. He could have been severely injured, of course, for that was back in the day when an apple was a good, healthy product, not some expensive, disposable music thingamajig. But that’s not the point. The point, my boy, is that since Sir Isaac Newton was not out frolicking and having fun, he sustained no injury. Instead, he picked up the apple, looked at it and said, “Groovy, man, that apple fell on my head as if it was acted upon by an unseen force. Clearly, that unseen force needed the tiny apple to come nearer to my head, which is much larger. Though I dare say that my head wanted to be near that apple as well for I can feel that it did! This unexpected and superbly enjoyable experience has taught me that an object must attract every other object in the universe with a force proportional to the product of their masses… and, also, inversely proportional to the distance between them. I shall call this unseen force ‘gravity’.”
Sir Isaac Newton wrote all of this down and the rest, as they say, is history.
I can see that you are sad about the tragic tale of Harvey S. Whombaker but let me finish with this thought. All was not lost for Harvey. He kept on working in the fields, toiling away at ripping out bindweeds in Sally Fally’s broccoli fields in the valley. Sally Fally, for her part, bringing him water when it was hot out. They shared many seasons of glorious, wonderful broccoli together, but Sally’s father would not allow her to marry Harvey because, as he said, “Any boy who would choose to have fun over pulling out bindweeds, even just once, is not worthy of my daughter’s love.”
Harvey went on to found NOFUN in hopes that future generations would learn from his mistake. I hope you will learn from him and heed this advice:
Fun is not funny.
Learn this, and remember Harvey. Before it is too late.