If you don’t have children you may but rarely encounter truly silly things like fairies. Why? Because unless you go to a bar and hang out with nice inebriated people—and there are all kinds of drunken behaviors, so you can’t guarantee that when you’re spending time at a bar with intoxicated folks that they will be nice—you will not usually find people being silly. Unless, of course, they are children.
Let me give you an example. Recently I was in Romania and I tried to use my credit card in a restaurant. Apparently in that country, which is otherwise quite lovely with people who are warm and friendly and prefer the color maroon to any other color (seriously, they do), if you don’t tell the waiter before you eat that you wish to use your credit card to pay, then you simply can’t do so. I do not know why this is the case. I only know that in the case of one of the restaurants in which I ate, this was most certainly the case. In any case, this produced a grumpy exchange, and left me dithering about to pay and so forth. But this is not a silly thing—it is the opposite of a silly thing. It was a tense moment.
But had he believed in fairies, maybe he would have been less grumpy. Maybe he would have believed that a fairy spirited away with my cash, and I simply had to use my credit card. Or had he been drunk, he might have been more jovial about the whole things—jovial, that is, if he was a silly drunk. But, as I said, there are also mean drunks. So he might have become belligerent, too, if he were drunk. So alcohol, it would seem, does not guarantee silliness, if you’re hoping to find it. Yet a belief in fairies may just do that.
Take children, for example. Children normally are silly. They like to make faces, dance on their toes at random times, show you with great pride pictures that are to them accurate but to any adult obviously distorted; they seriously believe in fairies, would never deny Santa Claus’ importance, even when such unswerving belief is called out as marginal by the president of the United States. And they love animals, all animals. They love to be tickled. They are brutally honest, but literally mean no offense by their honesty. You can tell them, “Say you’re sorry,” and they will respond, “My sorry,” innocently misunderstanding your grammar. They call the grass vegetables and smile for the camera without having to be coached. Best of all, they often cannot stop giggling. And they love the idea of fairies.
Why? Because children are essentially always drunk. Their minds live in a constant state of pleasant inebriation. They find things funny that other people take for granted or haven’t thought about for years or, even when they see the silliness in them, don’t find funny. And children, like the aforementioned nicer kind of drunken people, will find the same thing funny time and again. You can amuse a child, like you can a drunken person, by doing something silly repeatedly. You don’t even have to find the thing you’re doing all that funny; but they will. And when they do, you’ll laugh, because you find it funny that they find it funny. In short, they don’t need to be told to lighten up, because they are, more or less all of the time (or at least most of the time), lightened up.
I don’t think adults can replicate quite what children do, their semi-permanent joie de vivre, their belief in fairies or their ubiquitous cuteness. But we can lighten up. I think I will try to do at least that much in 2019, and maybe I will believe in fairies again, too. I know that sounds like a silly thing, but if it works as well as I suspect, I think I will call it Fairy Therapy.