Where's the fun?
March 1, 2005 8:15 PM   Subscribe

Is anybody having fun?

I thought that when I grew up I'd be part of a fun, interesting social world full of free adults. Yet I wonder where all this fun is happening. I go to bars and people are just sitting there. I go to music shows and I see a bunch of inert nodding hipsters. I go to the park and the adults are dourly recreating with their iPods on. Even the kids' playground seems underpopulated with kids and overmonitored by safety-minded adults.

I'd like to take part in some hilarious, spontaneous, relaxed, social jubilation in my life. I'd like to two-year-old son to see what it looks like. So where is it?
posted by argybarg to Society & Culture (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hopefully your son will share your idea that fun and physical activity are inextricably connected.

His being two, of course, your chances are pretty good in that regard, at least for a while.
posted by bingo at 8:21 PM on March 1, 2005

Response by poster: Maybe I need to clarify. My son and I have tons of fun together. We dance, we wrestle, we cook, we paint, we play games. But that's just us in our house. I want to go (whether with my son or not) where all the fun is -- where lots of people are having fun together. Where is it?
posted by argybarg at 8:26 PM on March 1, 2005

This "fun" happens to special people, who are smarter, better looking, and more socially ept than you or I. Our role is to drink heavily and hang out here.

I kid, of course, I'm a kidder.

Truth be told, I think we've all been brainwashed by teen movies and beer commercials to imagine that somewhere out there is a beach planet where people hang around chugging beer while listening to Van Halen records and beautiful women spontaneously disrobe and demand sex from ordinary slobs.

I exaggerate, but I used to be tormented by the idea that while I did mundane thiings like watching TV, listening to music, and making a living, that somewhere people where having fun like I just described. This would send me out the door and into the streets and bars where I inevitably found my self in some pathetic misadventure.

So the lesson is, we've been sold a bill of goods, the mystical land of fun does not exist, and if it does it's inhabited by people who don't appreciate it and wouldn't like us.

So, crack a beer and turn on Family Guy. That's about as good as it gets. Unless you have some chips.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 PM on March 1, 2005 [2 favorites]

I have fun when I am dourly nodding at shows or recreating with my iPod, myself. I also have fun when friends and I go to see a terrible movie and hash out exactly what was terrible about it over drinks afterwards, or meet up in a coffee shop and talk about our research for hours, but it seems like you might be chasing a somewhat overly narrow idea of "fun," here.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:39 PM on March 1, 2005

Where are ppl having fun together?
  • At the ski slopes
  • On the mt bike trails
  • At the lake paddling a canoe
  • At the local pool hall, find a tournament
  • At a local art class
  • At the yoga studio
  • Adult rec league soccer
  • At the beach surfing
  • teaching a dog to play frisbee
Fun isn't easy, it's hard work! You have to seek it, to make it, and to cherish it.
posted by tumble at 8:40 PM on March 1, 2005

Find something you have a passion for and then find a few other folks who share the same passion. The internet makes it easier than ever to find groups of people in your own area that share your interests.

I used to have the same idea as you, that someday I would find the right crowd and the fun would just happen. As a result I was usually a bit bored and disappointed. Then I said screw what everyone else does and started finding people who liked to do the same dorky "boring" things that I did, like playing interactive fiction or going to museums or watching MST3K or taking meandering road trips or writing really horrible claptrap. Suddenly I was having all sorts of fun. Forget what you thought it would be like when you were a kid. Find something YOU like to do and then seek out others who like to do the same thing.

Also, I would suggest watching your two year old closely. They have a natural gift for having fun and you could probably learn a thing or two from him about letting go of all your preconceived notions and just enjoying the moment.

I exaggerate, but I used to be tormented by the idea that while I did mundane things like watching TV, listening to music, and making a living, that somewhere people where having fun like I just described. This would send me out the door and into the streets and bars where I inevitably found my self in some pathetic misadventure.

That's also a damn good point. You just aren't going to have fun all the time.
posted by LeeJay at 8:45 PM on March 1, 2005

Forgot to add: if you like games, board, card or otherwise, think about starting up a game night with some friends or family (or both). I play poker regularly with a small group of friends and it has led to some of the funniest nights of my life.
posted by LeeJay at 8:48 PM on March 1, 2005

While I appreciate the sarcasm hanging heavily on jonmc's comment, I would like to non-sarcastically disagree. I am having fun. Of course, I am in college so my situation is pretty different.

But I think the only secret to college fun is that one is constantly surrounded by friends, all of whom are young enough to want to explore new things. You might try making some adventurous friends. Maybe even youngish ones whose life situations are different enough from yours that they can share different interests.

How does one find adventurous friends and adventures with them? My first-instinct answers are pretty young-person-centric. Burning man, parties where there is a lot of subtance use happening. . . Maybe you could take classes in a new hobby, like rock climbing or surfing, with or without your son along. Have adventures, meet people. Maybe you could find some local outdoor music festivals or local family-friendly, non-hipster music venues. People who listen to Irish Folk music seem to be having fun.

If you can stand to expose your son to people for whom fun/adventure/art are major life goals, you stand a chance of introducing significant fun.

My parents were way into folk music and had tons of fun until my little brother was born, after which point they became boring TV watchers with no energy. It made me realize the importance of having friends and activities.
posted by mai at 8:49 PM on March 1, 2005

Best answer: Wow...very grim evening on AskMe tonight.

I would say the best place to start is at home--the best way for your little boy to learn to have fun in a more social context is a place he already associates with fun. Have friends over, or even better, have friends over with kids he can hang around with--I'm not saying you should limit your social life to other parents, but if you can help make your house a place where people regularly come over to have fun, and they usually bring little friends for him, he'll definitely get the basic idea. (As an example, we have neighbors with kids around the same age as ours, and who love to play cards like we do. Once a week or so, we get four adults and five kids together, make dinner, and the kids play while the adults split their attention between the kids and an animated card game. A little old-fashioned? Maybe. But a great way to help frame our kids' expectations that they should have fun when they grow up.)

Outside the house, it's not all _that_ hard to find places where people are having fun, especially since little kids have no jaded sense of cynicism to discourage them. Perfect example, if you're in the NYC area: the Blue Man Group. It's very, very easy to pooh-pooh that show as "just entertainment", but talk about being in a room of 200 people having an _awesome_ time (and a level of entertainment that even a 2-year-old can appreciate).

You may or may not have that as a specific option, but look for fun public spectacles--sporting events, fireworks shows, kiddie concerts...there are lots of places that he can learn to lose himself in the communal excitement.
posted by LairBob at 8:50 PM on March 1, 2005

Unless you enjoy misadventure, as I do. In that case you can pretty much have fun anywhere.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:51 PM on March 1, 2005

While I appreciate the sarcasm hanging heavily on jonmc's comment,

Hyperbole, perhaps, but sarcasm? Nope. I said it artfully I suppose, but I meant what I said, the version of "fun" we've been sold is a chimera.
posted by jonmc at 8:52 PM on March 1, 2005

posted by samh23 at 8:53 PM on March 1, 2005

Elaborate practical jokes and exceptional acts of public humiliation have been doing it for me lately. What you need are costumes.
posted by underer at 8:54 PM on March 1, 2005

People who listen to Irish Folk music seem to be having fun.

That's because they're drunk.
posted by jonmc at 8:56 PM on March 1, 2005

It might help to cultivate friendships with non-traditional sorts... people without 9-5 jobs and such. The only people we can ever get to come over (or go out) on a week day or night are musicians, film editors, artists, etc.

For daytime fun, you may want to see if there are any local unschoolers (homeschoolers who don't use curriculum, so are more apt to be up for experiences and adventure, and not tied to a schedule) that you can befriend and accompany to things.
posted by xo at 9:00 PM on March 1, 2005

wow, jonmc. often i question your proffered wisdom (because i'm an asshole like that), but seriously, that was some spot-on shit.


* beer, in this case, being some wine i opened a month ago that i finally got around to drinking.

fun is what you make it. In a way, I've had *more* interesting fun since moving back to sacramento because it's more difficult to simply CONSUME ENTERTAINMENT here than it is in San Francisco. While this sort of fun requires a little networking and knowing-the-right-people sort of skills, it's ALWAYS more entertaining. What's better: paying $25 to go see some professional sports team playing baseball, or starting a kickball tourney with a bunch of your friends. If you want good fun, you've *GOT* to make it -- come up with an event idea, schedule it, and then STICK WITH IT, until it's a success or it's obvious it's not gonna catch on. Since you've got a two-year old, i'd recommend something simple and not necessarily requiring great athleticism, like hide and go seek -- i'm sure there's a bunch of folks just like you, looking to have fun with their kids and other people, who would love to come out and play/party with you. And hey, after the second round of hide and go seek (or kick-the-can, which i've always been partial to) you're not strangers anymore.

That's the rule.
posted by fishfucker at 9:24 PM on March 1, 2005

anecdote: one of the most entertaining things i've done since moving back to sacramento was dressing up like a greaser along with a bunch of other 20-30-somethings and crashing one of their parent's "Sock Hop"-themed party (driving up, of course, in our friend's 56 chevy). That is a good example of the fun you can't buy.
posted by fishfucker at 9:27 PM on March 1, 2005

For me, fun comes while bicycling. Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone else into it, but I'm sure I'll meet some when the weather improves.

Biking isn't for everyone, but a real hobby is essential. Examples: Going to bars isn't a hobby. Building radio controlled model airplanes is.
posted by recursive at 9:30 PM on March 1, 2005

Ooh! Another idea, inspired by a blogger I used to know: start a Tag Club. All you need is a group of adults (kids too), an open space like a park and a game of tag. It's good exercise and great fun. This works for virtually any other recreational sport you can think of.
posted by LeeJay at 9:36 PM on March 1, 2005

I think jonmc is spot on- we're always led to believe that there are cooler people somewhere, having more fun than us, just by being at the cool hot spot, being beautiful, oh, and having lots and lots of money to spend. Bologna, I say. Fun isn't something you find, it's something you make. Fun is having your friend stuff you into a giant suitcase, and then roll you up and down the halls of your dorm, leaving you at random doorstops and letting you pop your head out to scare people. Fun is coming to a friend's party that is just you, so far, and saying, "Hey, quality, not quantity," eating enough for 20, and then whisking her away to sing karaoke at a country dive bar. Fun is singing along to "I Just Called To Say I Love You" when a subway musician points in your direction. There is really fun to be had everywhere, but you'll have to be fearless, and you'll have to ditch all of your friends that say, "What are you doing?? Stop that! STOP THAT! You're embarrassing me," because you will never have fun with them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:45 PM on March 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

Maybe its a cultural thing. My parents are wild partyers and dancers. We *always* had tons of people roaming around our house every weekend, getting drunk, dancing to pounding Latin music. Things haven't changed. To this day, its rare that I call them and not hear several other people laughing in the background. Honestly, they are fun to visit but I prefer my quieter existence.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that fun happens but it doesnt happen usually by "attending" some event, it happens because you surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with and then you just let go and you "make" fun.

Invite a group of adults (and kids!) to learn to salsa dance together. Hire an instructor to teach you all.
posted by vacapinta at 10:04 PM on March 1, 2005

Best answer: I'm inclined to think that the kind of "fun" argybarg has in mind goes hand in hand with a sense of community and shared experience. There are plenty of people out there who will tell you that communities are simply dying off to be replaced by neighborhoods where individuals live side by side but don't have much to do with one another. Some blame the fact that public spaces have been replaced with private property, some blame television or the internet, some blame the decline of religion, some blame the destruction of popular organizations ranging from the communist party to labor unions and, of course, lots of people here in the south blame the whole thing on those bothersome dark skinned folks who insisted on joining our clubs and our churches or attending our schools, thereby forcing us to restructure or abandon those institutions.

However you slice it, it's certainly true that fun tends to happen when a bunch of people come together without feeling anxiety about how they're supposed to act or animosity towards one another and when there aren't too many rules they have to follow. And you can make a pretty strong case that there's simply less of that around nowadays.
posted by Clay201 at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2005

I have the most fun with my two year old when I am just totally unselfconscious, especially in public. Some of my favorites are walking silly around the grocery store, walking around the block in butterfly wings, and screeching happily around the house for the sole purpose of making noise.

I find you just have to make the fun sometimes, the more spontaneous the better, in my opinion.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:23 PM on March 1, 2005

What a great thread! I agree with those who call bullshit on the scam of ever-evasive fun. It's a bill of goods sold to us by the marketing industry: buy this, become that, go here... and you'll join the FUN! hooey. Those here who know me personally will attest to my love for and regular having of fun. I think it comes down to having an open mind, a willingness to overcome inertia, and the ability to surround yourself with others of like mind.

I'm learning a lot in this thread, so I hope the posting keeps up.
posted by squirrel at 10:25 PM on March 1, 2005

Best answer: I don't know where you are, but this is the biggest fun I have had in years. It's totally family safe and just a great, good time. Good people, sharing great acoustic (for the most part, there are a few some electric acts, also) music. It's held in a forested state park. I went to my first one a few years ago and said I wouldn't miss one again, and I haven't. I don't know if it's up your alley or not.
posted by wsg at 10:33 PM on March 1, 2005

Drat, I meant to add this Best of Craigslist link (SFW, no cussin' in the text, either!) to my above comment somehow. It reads like a shopping list for what you're looking for, argybarg.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:33 PM on March 1, 2005

Look for a bluegrass festival in your area, no kidding.
posted by wsg at 10:42 PM on March 1, 2005

Response by poster: Hate to keep directing the conversation...well, I'm not, because, as squirrel says, it's very interesting and valuable.

But I know how to have fun. That's not what I'm wondering, honest.

Imagine the proverbial alien landing where you live and asking: Show me your people having fun. If it were Texas in the 1930's, I'd take that alien to a barn dance. When I travelled in Indonesia I would see people, at dusk, set up ping-pong tables in the street and a dozen or so people would play or stand around laughing and smoking; I could show the alien that. Certainly in many times and cultures large numbers of kids have played spontaneously in the street or on a field, inventing games; that might do.

But what does it look like in our culture? A bunch of people doing things alone or huddled inside. Where is everybody? I would really prize true counterexamples. (I hear Latino weddings can be a blast.)

But I'm not quite down with the particular widsom jonmc is kicking here. I'm not saying, hey, everyone's living the rock-star life but me. I'm not asking for much. I'm just asking for places where people dance, play ping-pong, mingle, make up stuff, relax. Stuff to show the alien (who is, in this case, my son).
posted by argybarg at 10:55 PM on March 1, 2005

This is a damn good thread, and one I'm going to bookmark for later. I do have to agree that right now, in my mid-30s, most of my peers have grown really dull, pretty much becoming cookie-cutter droids. The Internet though has become a godsend for avoiding the droids and finding interesting people... case in point meetup.com -- really meetups to me are a bore but at least it's a launching place. I find the hardest part now is figuring out what interests me, rather than where/when to do it.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:11 PM on March 1, 2005

Best answer: hilarious, spontaneous, relaxed, social jubilation

Work with the weather. The closer you are to water the better. Guaranteed fun: sledding on a snow day. Even if you bust your nose and bruise your elbows. The more people who see you bite it the better. You'll be legend. Pick the neighborhood hill, where everyone just meets cause that's the best place to be (spontanaity). Wear moon boots and a snow suit and a scarf. Build a jump. Wipe out and do it again, and again, and again. Stay out until the sun goes down. Walk home and have hot chocolate with marshmallows.

In the fall, rake all the leaves in the yard into one gigantic pile. dive in. hide. jump up and throw all the leaves into the air. get the neighbor's leaves. have them jump into the pile. throw the dog in. have your friends bury you as deep as they can. let them smoosh you. open your eyes under the pile and see how dark it is. smell the leaves. really get a good whiff. you'll never forget it. i remember it now.

take the dog to the lake and play fetch with a tennis ball. see how far he can swim. he won't give up. ever. bring a raft and a mask. go looking for mussels, and snails, and trout, and minnows, and deadwood, and seaweed. find a rope swing.

an honest to god rope swing that drops you into ten feet of water. you might have to build a platform. it's worth it. spontaneously, twenty or thirty of us would show up on any given day once we had found the swing. five or ten freestyle wooden platforms were built and torn down and built again that summer, ten and twenty feet high. bring your friends. take turns. you'll make new friends.

go skiing and take the wrong side down the hill. the part where they didn't cut the trees down. bring a friend. miss the big trees, but whack through the little ones. get down to the cross country ski trail and shuffle back to the lift pasing the cross country people going the other way. find a steeper side with more trees. invite more people. do it again.

find some sand dunes. bring a lunch. run up and down the hill in your bare feet screaming. take pictures. race. roll down the hill face first. get sand everywhere. have a picnic.

build a bike jump. get a bmx. or a ten-speed. get a 30 second head start. fly. jump your friends' bikes. jump your friends. dig a pit after the jump. jump again, and again. keep digging. fill it with a garden hose. jump. jump. jump.

go to walmart and drop the change for one of those trampolines off the side of the building. the big ones. call your friends. bring the neighbors. learn to double bounce little people (they will thank you). hold hands with someone and jump back and forth like two pistons. jump. jump. jump.

go to the beach. make a day of it. play pickup volley ball. body surf. collect stones. sun bathe. stay till it's dark. build a bonfire. roast marshmallows. tell jokes. look at the moon.

find a bridge over slow water. ten, twenty feet. dive in. at a good spot you won't be the only one. take tuns. make bird calls under the bridge. look for nests and baby birds. jump holding hands. try some flips.

if you can't get out of the city, take cues from Gene Hackman's character in The Royal Tennenbaums.

the version of "fun" we've been sold is a chimera.

Someone who wasn't self satisfied with 'having figured that one out' would shop around.

last one, just remembered. and your son is young enough for this. get a back seat for your bike. buckle him in. and ride around the neighborhood. it's one of the earliest memories i have. especially when everyone else is out in the yards. working the yards. playing. biking past you. going the other way. the world is a bigger place than a two year old would imagine, and there's no better place to see it than from the back of dad's bike. (car's don't count, maybe a convertible.)

aw jeez, one more, but this is really important. FLY A KITE! what a trip that is. wow they get high. i know it's less social, but you bring friends, take turns.

one time my dad bought one of those septic tank-sized garbage bags that float when the sun heats them up and we followed it around the town for about an hour before it disappeared somewhere up above the clouds. that was cool.
posted by airguitar at 11:31 PM on March 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

Challenging yourself and meeting the challenge = fun.

Challenging your kid and watching him meet the challenge = more fun.

Fun = that which leads to satisfaction and learning new things about yourself.
posted by kindall at 11:46 PM on March 1, 2005

Learn to unicycle. There is not way you can't not have fun when you ride around making a fool out of yourself on one.
posted by aspo at 11:51 PM on March 1, 2005

Fun seems mostly to involve spontanaiety. Work at that, it may require careful planning.

My sister seems to find plenty of fun by being a Girl Scout leader. Good organization without the crapy baggage the Boy Scouts have chosen to embrace. Mind, my sister's kids are now grown, but she still leads and has fun.
posted by Goofyy at 12:38 AM on March 2, 2005

not useful in any way, but I wanna go play with airguitar....

On preview - there's a lot to be said for deciding to have fun wherever you go - if you've got a two-year-old, the fun kind of invents itself...
posted by Space Kitty at 3:31 AM on March 2, 2005

I agree with everyone who suggested musical happenings, especially the audience-participation kind. Those really tend to create some unselfconscious hilarity. On that note (!?), I would highly recommend your local drum jam or drum circle. Grab a rattle and tambourine, or what have you, and show up. Bang a drum! Dance! Works for me.
posted by bricoleur at 6:33 AM on March 2, 2005

Best answer: It seems you want your son to see other people have fun too. And not just when they're drunk.

I strongly suggest camping. Find a campground that is relatively small (not a huge huge place with hundreds of campers), and doesn't have restrictions (lots of campgrounds have "no tent" rules or "no RV's more than 10/15/20 years old" type rules). Find one with a good swimming and fishing spot on-site, and some things to do near by. You'll want one that has a good mix of regulars/long-termers and weekenders.

The campground I go to has about 20 sites, and there's everything from tenters, to huge $500K motor homes. More than half of the spaces are occupied by the same people every summer. There's a community fire pit - no individual ones - and that serves as a gathering place. It's right on the shore of a lake, and there's 15 miles of bike path around the lake.

If you were at that campground for a week, you and your son would be able to swim, fish, bike, go to a zoo, pick up fresh produce right off a farm a mile down the road, go to auto races (three miles away up the shore), go to the zoo (bike trail goes right to it), cook on the fire, watch wildlife, feed wild geese that come right into the camp, play free shuffleboard, play horseshoes . . . the list goes on. And there's other children there. You could leave your son with them and go to the bar for a drink or two if you wanted (the bar is about 100 feet away from the campground, same owners).

It's a community unto itself, and people spend more time outdoors, doing activities alone and with each other. No schedules, no agendas. Fun happens naturally.
posted by yesster at 7:03 AM on March 2, 2005

I think the kind of fun you like best depends on who you are. I enjoy running around in sand dunes and jumping off bridges too, but I have the most fun doing structured activities---building things, doing things that require some preparation and planning, things that challenge you a bit. I love doing things that take some skill, though sometimes the skills can be frustrating to learn!

These things don't fall in your "hilarious, spontaneous, relaxed, social jubilation" schema so much, but I for one am glad I'm a big kid now so that I can do more of these things.

With the exception of sports, the problem with these sorts of activities, I think, is that many of them aren't conducive to group activities. Most projects are undertaken by individuals a few people (especially if they don't involve making software). My current obsession (as my posting history attests) is flying planes, and generally it's you and a friend in the plane, that's it! For groups you have to find specialty forms of flying: ultralights, soaring---but if you have one of these clubs near your area, you can find a gaggle of folks spending a lot of money to have a lot of what they consider fun together.

In that light, I'd bet a lot of people working at a Habitat for Humanity site are having this... methodical kind of fun. Maybe you could show your kid an H4H site (safety first!) for variety's sake.
posted by tss at 7:18 AM on March 2, 2005

I second the calls for you getting people together and also making your home a center for fun. Obviously, you've got to pursue what you enjoy doing. Definitely, take advantage of where you are at (these are the things I used to do for fun while in the Northwest): Go to Gasworks park: marvel at those old industrial structures and fly a kite atop the hill that overlooks the lake. Go for a stroll at the Ballard Locks: watch the boats go through. Try out Japanese and other Gardens at Point Defiance park in Tacoma. Walk along Ruston way at dusk. Boating! Boating! Boating! Go for a drive out to the mountains in the spring and go for a hike. Ah, Paradise. Snowboarding or Skiing in winter with friends or as part of a "club". Get a gang together and hang out at the Arboretum. Take a night off and go hear some bands play -- pick shows that you think will be fun more than cool. Try on some of that local theater (unfortunately, 7 Strangers just wrapped up). Perhaps there's some irony here, but I used to go to Vashon and other islands for fun. Pack a picnic lunch and go to one of the many parks near a smallish river or stream and splash around the banks some. Ride bikes. Book Clubs. Karaoke. Wiffleball! And what the rest of the world calls football, but we call soccer is always fun. Just make sure to wear a garbage sack when it rains. Kids playing mod soccer in the rain and mud. Yeah! Now I am homesick.
posted by safetyfork at 7:39 AM on March 2, 2005

Go sink $500 in an old beat-up Civic or Corolla and take it Auto-Crossing. You'll meet a wide variety interesting, passionate, competitive people, you'll become a better driver, and you'll have an absolute blast, guaranteed.
posted by saladin at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2005

I would take my alien to: the beach in the summer, an amusement park/water park, or to any kind of music festival. That's where I "see fun happening" in concentrated fashion.
posted by tristeza at 9:44 AM on March 2, 2005

What jonmc, LeeJay and PSH said...

Fun is what you make of it. And where, and when, and how. I find that too often being around "grown-ups" (I'm 43!), people don't want to have "fun" (e.g. what I think fun is). Some people are into their own thing - snowboarding, darts, etc. And most people don't have terribly "interesting" ideas of fun - "clubbing", TV, music, etc.

Bottom line is, if you want to have "fun", you have to go make it. It is work, though. For example, I enjoyed playing games (Taboo, Pictionary, etc.) at a friend's party years ago, so then I just started hosting game nights at my place. Some friends weren't into it (including lateral thinking puzzles, and meta-games like "one-up-one-down", and "the scissors game"), but that's OK - I just didn't extend an invite to those folks. No hard feelings. And by word of mouth, the group who were into games just expanded. Another fun thing for me; outdoor games - frisbee, aerobie, cycling, hiking. These have progressed like game night - just do it, and talk it up among friends, and the group will grow.

Also, were I in your shoes, I'd take my son to a local park/school and fly kites, play catch, climb on the jungle-gym. Go to the water and swim, skip stones, find shells. Go on a nature walk (maybe with a book on local flora/fauna). Just a few ideas.

(On preview, airguitar and I are on the same wavelength. By the way airguitar, here's a book you might like: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0938530232/qid=1109788195/sr=1-8/ref=sr_1_8/002-9831339-1140831?v=glance&s=books"
it's a favorite of my Dad's, although I'm not quite that old, I still "get it".)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2005

Take an improv class.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:52 AM on March 2, 2005

I had lots of fun with my daughter at Gymboree, and we learned a lot together. We also made lots of social contacts so that playdates could be scheduled. Dress up with scarves, jewelry, funny hats, mommy's shoes was the favorite game. But making a tent with lots of sheets and blankets and pillows was good-- especially if I acted as a servant and brought little treats on a tray.

Having a dog is a great way to have fun. Besides the stuff mentioned above, taking the dog on a leash inside PetSmart is especially fun for kids because It just seems so alien and goofy to be shopping with the dog. Also the other shoppers in PetSmart are always glad to see other pets.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:59 AM on March 2, 2005

Best answer: Go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Volunteer to be up on stage the next week.
posted by felix at 12:53 PM on March 2, 2005

Guaranteed fun: hooping. Trust me, you can't not laugh when you're hula hooping with a big huge oversized hoop.

I brought some hoops to a blogger party in SF a few years ago, and things have spread like wildfire since then -- geeks love hula hooping. Bonus: you can make hoops with friends, and then howl as you try to keep the hoop around your waist.
posted by arielmeadow at 1:19 PM on March 2, 2005

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