The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday

Suffer now, enjoy later: the Type II guide to fun

Do you enjoy challengin­g activities that may not be a laugh at the time, but make you feel alive? Charlotte Lytton has got your number


They love those forms of exercise that can be easily combined with an element of mild threat

It’s been a long two years; a pandemic immediatel­y being followed by a war and the continued agony of the costof-living crisis has meant that having un has been low on the global agenda.

But with a little sunshine and a few bank holidays on the horizon, many of us are after one thing: fun. In particular Type II Fun – the sort that is challengin­g without being life-threatenin­g; vaguely unpleasant while it’s happening, but produces a big enough buzz to make it worth doing again.

According to the Fun Scale – a metric that does, incredibly, exist – Type I Fun comprises activities that you expect to enjoy and do, such as going for drinks or to the cinema. Type III Fun, meanwhile, isn’t fun even in retrospect; an idea that seemed bad at the time and has only got worse since. Relationsh­ips with ne’erdo-wells, ultramarat­hons, buying bright-green Speedos – all that goes on the list of things that aren’t to be repeated anytime soon.

The scale was created in 1985 by Rainer Newberry, a geology professor at the University of Alaska, and Type II Fun has since become a neologism among the climbing community, who use it to describe their rock-scaling feats. Post-pandemic, it can easily be applied to everyday use, capable of speaking to that particular desire to feel something after two years of lockdowns – but not too much.

There is even Type II merchandis­e for sale on Amazon; you can buy stickers reading “Suffer now, enjoy later”. One product descriptio­n for a Type II T-shirt extols the virtues of the lifestyle, explaining: “It’s worth telling stories afterwards – and it didn’t kill you.”

Fun, according to Travis Tae Oh, an assistant professor of marketing at Yeshiva University, requires two psychologi­cal components: hedonic engagement, where you embrace an activity for the sheer enjoyment of it, and liberation, allowing freedom – even if temporaril­y – from real-world concerns, such as work or bills. One of Prof Oh’s surveys found participan­ts reporting that, a year into the pandemic, people were having significan­tly less fun than pre-Covid, with Google searches of “things to do for fun” climbing at the same time. The things people want most from their fun are “letting loose”, “being carefree” and “getting away from it all” – which, if you’re looking for the Type II kind, may also involve some vaguely perilous feat.

Parlez-vous Type II? Here’s how to spot a thrill(ish) seeker in your midst.


Time was when you invited people over for supper because you wanted to spend time with them. Group dining is now a mostly performati­ve affair, the days of rustic chic (serving shepherd’s pie in individual Le Creuset dishes) being too analogue for the Type II among us.

In order to up the risk factor of what used to be known as “dinner”, Type IIs will likely resort to molecular gastronomy. There is a strong probabilit­y dry ice will be involved, along with a series of foams, gels and purées. None of these will taste like the food they purport to be, but all come with the benefit of having caused the chef between one and three minor cardiac events in the making. Yes, it’s easier to order a pizza, but what about the rush, man?


You’ve probably not heard much about wild swimming because, like veganism, adherents to the lifestyle don’t like to talk about it much. Dunking yourself in frigid waters and (optional but ubiquitous) posting a photo of the feat on Instagram is classic Type II fare.

Proponents espouse the mental health boost, as well as the fitness benefits, of exercising in cold climes. All of this is true – studies show that it can improve circulatio­n, immune systems and even your libido – but nowadays it’s more social cachet than workout.

Exercise is the Type II-er’s happy place, especially those forms that can be easily combined with an element of mild threat: alpine hikes, boxing, getting on a Peloton… the list is endless.


Fly-and-flops are too Type I; all-out adventure holidays overly Type III. Skiing hits the Type II sweet spot, though unfortunat­ely requires a reasonable level of skill. This makes it more appealing to pick one of those “experience­s” hotels always try to upsell at reception: dune bashing, paraglidin­g – anything that will jolt you out of your skin for a strictly time-limited period is a good bet. The promise of a pool and lounger at the end doesn’t hurt, either.


Child-rearing is fraught with hypercompe­tition: if little Elsa isn’t fluent in Mandarin and responsibl­e for introducin­g a zero-waste policy at her nursery by five, can you really call yourself a parent? Type II mums and dads like to sow the seeds of derring-do early, putting their kids in peril in the name of “getting out of your comfort zone” (and one-upping other parents). Releasing two dozen infants down a hill in inflatable balls may seem extreme, but better that than consigning them to social Siberia on account of sub-par parties.


With the outside world taped off, screen use became all the more prominent during the pandemic, the internet providing people’s best chance of feeling… well, anything. Even now, it’s many people’s first port of call for a good time. Investing in Bitcoin or some other semidoomed cryptocurr­ency can provide the heart-rate judders that Type IIs crave; ditto searching online for a quasidange­rous pet – perhaps a buthidae scorpion, of which there are 100 registered (presumably to Type IIs) in the UK. Done right, fun “challenges the things we believe or connects us to something bigger”, according to Michael Rucker, author of The Fun Habit. And you don’t get that from browsing Zara.


For those seeking to impress on first meeting, there’s no use wasting time at the pub or a local Italian (pappardell­e ragù doesn’t breach the Type II border). A Type II-dater isn’t worth their salt if they don’t introduce the risk of death – like being in a hot-air balloon, or going to an amusement park. Aside from the issue of mortality, there’s an obvious pitfall here: the assumption that your date is up for a spontaneou­s adrenaline rush with a stranger, when in fact they would prefer not to be dragged, weeping, across a cliff face by someone they’ve just met. It’ll make or break the relationsh­ip, certainly.


Doing this in a timely fashion is very Type I; arriving at the place in question, imagining you can buy your way through the door, the preserve of Type IIIs. The mildly sweat-inducing middle ground is agreeing to meet someone at a play or restaurant you know is sold out, hoping against hope that, on the morning in question, you can ring and plead for resales/no shows. It can work like a charm, now and then, with the risk-inclined snagging a last minute front row seat for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa or a table at Noma. The rest of the time, you should mentally prepare yourself for a cramped corner booth with your renegade friend at Strada.


Picking up your kids on foot or by car is passé for Type IIs. They are easily spotted on the school run: the adult wedged between two primary-schoolers on an e-scooter, zooming down the pavement, book bags flying. Call it irresponsi­ble parenting if you must, but it is quicker than the bus.

A risk of death will make the heart beat
WILD SWIMMING Turn blue, step in something squishy…
FIRST DATES A risk of death will make the heart beat faster WILD SWIMMING Turn blue, step in something squishy… joy!
 ?? ?? DINING
OUT ‘Just something I rustled up
after work’
DINING OUT ‘Just something I rustled up after work’
 ?? ?? HOLIDAYS Anything you need to sign a release form
HOLIDAYS Anything you need to sign a release form for
 ?? ?? ONLINE BROWSING You can keep your kitten
ONLINE BROWSING You can keep your kitten pictures

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom