“Let me tell you what I believe,” the bartender told me as he slid my Irish Mule across the dimly lit counter. David the bartender. He was cheerful, attentive and far more awake than I. We’d only just met him that night while venturing out late to find a good local watering hole in the new neighborhood. “Fun caps,” he said while zipping around behind the bar. “I believe that each of us has a fun cap in life. There are some people in life who’ve partied, rebelled and did a lot early. They probably lost interest in those same types of “fun” things by the time they turned 21, the type of stuff that fills up other people’s 20-something years and keeps them from long-term relationships.”
I sipped on my mule, anxiously chomping on ice as I overanalyzed this concept. David continued. “It’s the same for people who don’t fill their fun caps up, you know? When you see people who get married or have a ton of kids super young and cheat on their partners or end their marriages abruptly later in life, I’d tell you they didn’t fill up their fun cap when they had the chance.”
In other words, if that “fun cap” energy is still floating around and needing to be satisfied, it must find a way out. A way to be fulfilled. It’s like that game at the state fair, where you smash down on the scale with a giant hammer as hard as you possibly can, attempting to fill up the meter and ring that shiny, oversized bell at the top. A fun cap, in theory, is like that. A lot of us smash down on the scale with everything we’ve got right away, thriving in the spirit of rebellion at a young age. What was once “fun” loses its zest by the time we’re older and free to do as we please. As David puts it “Netflix and chill becomes more appealing.” For those of us who’ve never filled our caps though, we’ll be back next year to ring that bell again.
Was David right? And had I filled up my “fun cap” already? I shuddered at the thought, but then again, I was literally wandering through Fry’s earlier this week when I got excited over finding a large blue, spotted cooking pot that was on sale. Like… way too excited about it. There are other things too, never sleeping in anymore, enjoying my nights in, working at home – by myself more often than not. Netflix and chill is definitely more my style. David’s reasoning seemed sound to me, profound even – although I was two cocktails in at this point.
To his theory’s credit, I had pretty much outgrown the appeal of raging house parties and blackout drunk nights by the time I was 19. It’s something I tend to blame on my days working as a shot girl/go-go girl at a local creep-magnet club. Reflecting now on David’s theory, though, I think the reasoning for my early transition might be something a bit different. My go-go dancing days taught me a lot about myself. I closed that small chapter of my life feeling a little bit lighter, less overwhelmed by unexpressed “fun” as David might have phrased it.
I discovered a newfound sense of confidence doing that work, a wild-hearted fire inside of me that I’d never thought of as my own. And although I believe this part of my story does speak to the fact that sometimes ugly people in life bring out our most beautiful qualities, I truly had fun. I loved the way I felt about me, knowing that for once I was letting myself own every part of who I was, that I wasn’t holding anything back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the courage to keep pursuing that fire within myself.
If nothing else, David’s “fun cap” concept is a testament to the fact that we are meant to live fully expressed, uninhibited lives of passion and curiosity. That we are here, not to fulfill some societal quota for measuring what the public or our families define as success, but to do things that bring us the most joy. To do the things that light our hearts up.
When was the last time you did something that set your soul on fire?