lj idol season nine | week 12 | 620 words
Barrel of Monkeys
Hi, is this your first visit to the Department of Recreational Management? Okay, step right over here and I'll tell you how things work.
People say, "What are you guys, the Fun Police?" We don’t really like that term, but it's not too far off. We're Fun Unit Negotiation agents. What with global warming destroying ski slopes and turning playgrounds into blast furnaces, and pollution driving everyone indoors, fun is a limited commodity these days. It has to be rationed.
That's where we come in.
Calculating how many Fun Units an activity is worth is a process of negotiation. A balloon might be one fun unit for a baby or toddler, but zero for an adult. We try to be flexible. Doll shows are five fun units for a little girl, and three for adult women. No, you can't get fun-unit credits, no matter what you've heard. If your wife drags you to one of those things, it costs her three units and you zero. You don't get to add three credits to your tally just because you hated it. It doesn't work like that.
The negotiating happens when you have a team member—let's call him Elwood—who has no sense of what's actually fun and keeps trying to assign these huge values to things like Science Fairs or reading comic books. I say negotiating, but it's more like arguing. Geez, what planet is Elwood from, anyway? So yeah, we work out the values and we keep track of how many credits you have and how many you can spend. Then we authorize you to proceed with your activity, and debit your account. It's closer to administrative paperwork than policing, not that it makes much difference. Kind of joyless too, which is a little ironic.
Not everything costs, don't get me wrong. Getting drunk'll dig into your wallet, but not your fun credits. Seems like people sure are drinking a lot more these days, too… Skipping rocks is also free, though most of the water's so full of muck that there's no real challenge. Not much rock-skipping going on.
Now, say you wanted to do something big, like skydiving. Fifty units! You only accrue two units a week, so you'd really have to save up, and you probably want some left for vacation, right? We have this new system, though, where you can earn credits by creating fun. So, you could be a birthday-party clown for five parties, and you'd get ten credits for each gig. You might have to throw in some face-painting and balloon animals, maybe a little juggling, but you could probably swing that. No drunk-clown or creepy-clown stuff, though, and if you make a kid cry you lose three points right there. So, don't half-ass the job, okay?
You could also visit a retirement home and read stories to some of the residents, or take them out for a ride. It'll only get you a couple of credits, but every bit helps, right? Of course, they're usually short-staffed at those places, so you might get saddled with bedpan duty or other chores, but hey—it won't kill you.
Well, you've seen the list of activities now, and you've got four fun units on your account. What'll it be? A movie for three credits? Maybe Jaws VII, or the Shia LaBeouf version of The Manchurian Candidate, or the anime Godfather prequel? Or, how about two credits for a trip to a pizza parlor?
You what? Oh. Okay, sure thing—the liquor store is three blocks to the right on Central Avenue.
Yeah, fine, you're welcome. We're here to help. And hey, when you get to that store? Be sure to tell them Gabe sent you...
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