I have a fun aunt.
Don't get me wrong, I have more than one amazing aunt that I find extremely fun to be around. But the fun aunt is more than just an aunt who is fun. She's an archetype.
The "fun mom" ("What's the 411, girls?") is sometimes comparable in style, but totally different in effect, since a mom's job is to discipline and guide you into functioning adulthood and keep you safe from harm. The fun aunt's job is simply to be fun.
Which she is! The fun aunt possibly enjoys a cocktail. If so, she probably started offering you one around the age of 16, and never told anyone about your penchant for the occasional pilfered cigarette. The fun aunt probably smokes like a chimney and enjoys a companion. She has been known to put wrapping paper, kitchenware and other non-wearable items on her head at holiday gatherings and declare them a "party hat." (That last one might just be my fun aunt.)
The fun aunt has the best bath products and knows where to find the best shoes. She encourages you to buy very short skirts. She knows really good curse words and how to use them. She has refrigerator magnets like these:
The fun aunt gets you stuff you actually want for Christmas, and sometimes slips you money for no occasion at all. In old pictures, she looks almost unbearably glamorous. She takes you to R-rated movies or your first concert. There are pieces of the fun aunt's past that are not suitable for children, like lovers and marijuana. The fun aunt asks you if your cute boyfriend has an older brother.
See, the "fun aunt" is often synonymous with the "unmarried aunt." It's not that married people are less fun! But the unmarried aunt may have neglected to have kids herself (see upper left magnet), which is why she lives to spoil her neices.
And also why the fun aunt has led such an interesting life, focused on say, career or travel. It's why the fun aunt has the BEST stories. She may or may not have her own private regrets, but it doesn't stop her from being fun. The fun aunt laughs HARD.
The fun aunt is more than just a family member; she's an option. A reminder that there are lots of different ways to live life as a woman, that the paths spread out in many directions, each with their own sacrifices and gains, each potentially a whole lot of fun.
The fun aunt is a possibility, so take notes.
Do you have a fun aunt? Or are you a fun aunt? I think of xoJane as sort of the site for fun aunts everywhere. If so, what a job! I am still neice-and-newphew-less and I envy you. Carry the sacred torch of fun auntdom forth and pass it down among the generations.