When I heard that an adult ball pit was opening in Soho, I jumped at the opportunity to cover it. And I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm: 4,200 others booked half-hour slots in just a week. Maybe visitors to “Jump In!” really did want to awaken their inner child and channel the wealth of creative energy back into their day jobs. More likely, they envisioned a grown-up version of Chuck E. Cheese — a Charles Edward Cheese, if you will.
“I’m playing hooky from work,” admitted Kristin Ren as we took the elevator up to the fifth floor offices of Pearlfisher yesterday afternoon. Beside us stood an actual employee of the office, simply returning to work from a break void of reminisced childhood. “Yeah, it’s been fun,” semi-enthused the unnamed worker, his excitement understandably waning since his office took a turn toward a McDonald’s PlayPlace.
Had I not convinced my editor of the great story at hand, perhaps I too could have jumped right into the pit alongside Ren. Instead, I first took a walk around the office with Sarah Codraro, communications manager for the agency. “Play has been proven to help people with their creativity,” explained Codraro, whose ample smile was only matched by her spiel. “In the child-like mind-set you tap into when you’re playing, you think in an uninhibited way, so you’re not fearing judgment and you go back to this state where you used to dream really big.”
Bearing that in mind I took the proverbial plunge, which was more like a strained shuffle, into 81,000 white balls. To be fair, certain aspects of the experience immediately brought back a flood of (repressed) memories, mostly centered on my complete and utter lack of fine-motor skills. As for that whole “not fearing judgment” part — easier said than done, I’d thought as I pathetically flailed around in full view of Ren and her selfie-stick wielding roommate, Irene Morgenshtern. Rather than help relinquish my inhibitions, the pit treated me to a unique brand of anxiety brought on by the self-awareness of age commingling with the fact that I was the only person in the pit to have arrived alone.
Fortunately, though, I soon found company in fellow solo ball-pitter, Sam Foo. “It was around twenty-five years ago in a McDonalds with my kid,” said Foo, recalling his last pit encounter. Watching Foo’s gallant dive-bomb attempts, it seemed I’d finally stumbled upon Pearlfisher’s ideal demographic — retirees. “Life tends to be over quite quickly so the more you can get of these sort of experiences, the better,” he noted.
Somewhere between the wisdom of Foo and pragmatism of Ren sits the true value of “Jump In!” – an opportunity to embrace life/your workday’s swift passing.
“Jump In!” is located at the Pearlfisher office on the 5th Floor, 455 Broadway and runs until September 21 . To find out more, click here.