Making A List...

Should every guy have a "bucket list?" Seems like it's a concept for older guys, but maybe, like the inverse of youth, this one's wasted on the old.

I was sent a link to a recommended list. Of course, there are as many suggested bucket lists as there are people getting close to their bucket. This one is interesting to me however, for a couple of reasons: one, it is from Esquire magazine, a self-proclaimed magazine for young men; and two, it is one of the longest and most creative I've seen. You would have to start as a young man to check all the boxes on this one. But as I said in paragraph one, that's who ought to be working through a list anyway.

Esquire magazine didn't consult me regarding the title of this list, but if they had, I would have told them the title was all wrong. Men of their "young" target audience don't even have death on their radar. Plus, I don't know many young men that will read a list that's 83 items long, if they read at all. Most of the lists they seem to read are more like: "3 Steps to a Firmer This" or "5 Sure Fire Ways to a Stronger That."  

Well, on to the list. For each item on the list I've included the wording pretty much as it was printed in Esquire. Then I've included my comments, if any, in a bolder typeface.

Experiences, endeavors, opportunities, journeys, and fantastically bad ideas you might want to give an honest try.

1. Apologize. Now, apologize isn't a thing you'll find on most life lists. But then, most life lists require you to exit your life, or your good sense, to execute the list items—parachute from outer space, visit the Titanic, sit through a whole season of Girls. Not that you'd be tempted, but don't do those things. Do these.

2. Take down that wall. Rip up a floor. Fell a tree.

All but the tree.

3. Lose 15 pounds without talking about it.

Done it, but it took heart surgery to make it happen.

4. Take one stunning train trip. The more nights, the better.

I've taken a few train trips, but none over night. I have spent a lot of nights sleeping in the luggage rack of a tour bus.

5. Preemptively say, "I'm sorry, too" when in the midst of a vicious argument with a loved one. Works only once per relationship. But it works.


6. Spend an uncomfortable amount of money on a really good suit.

I have spent a relatively uncomfortable amount on a suit, but I'm not sure it was for a "really good" one.

7. Leave a tip big enough to upset you.

Does leaving a tip at all when the service didn't warrant one count?

8. Make a pilgrimage to Bonneville Salt Flats, site of land-speed-record attempts for more than fifty years and a big piece of gorgeous nowhere. Go there to drive very fast. Go there to camp. Go there for the sunrises and the sunsets and the stars at night. Go there to be alone.

This won't make my list. I remember pictures in Hot Rod magazine and it had no appeal then or now. 

9. Take a little girl to see The Nutcracker.

I do this annually.

10. Nearly die, then don’t.

Did I mention heart surgery? Not sure how close I came.

11. See a band’s last show ever.

I played drums in a couple of bands and was there for the last show ever. Does that count? I've also been to shows that should have been the band's last.

12. Selectively run red lights.

Who hasn't?

13. Have yourself a little cannonball run. Different teams. Different beat-up used cars, procured specifically for this occasion and each costing less than $700. A race for time across 278 miles of road (and 90 degree desert heat) between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and no rules about T-boning, rear-ending, or winning at any cost.

We drove from Tulsa to LA ONCE when I was thirteen. That was enough.

14. Volunteer.


15. Fly in the Beaver. You know the Beaver. Around since the forties and looks it. It has a big round radial engine, an oily, primitive thing the size of an old Volkswagen. But it flies, and lands anywhere covered in water.

Although it wasn't a Beaver, I've had my share of small plane experiences.

16. Love something other than yourself. Like a dog. Or even a person.


17. Shoot a Glock. Do you know what it’s like to have a heart bursting at the end of your arm? Didn’t think so.

No interest. I have shot a 12 gauge at clay pigeons.

18. Write a poem. Make it about whatever you're feeling about whatever you're seeing in your mind's eye. A person. Someone you love. It's a poem; why waste it on anger or fear? That stuff is what prose is for.

Check. I know what you're thinking: he doesn't want to shoot a Glock, but he writes poetry. I also have a motorized two-wheeled vehicles in my garage. It's a Vespa, not a Harley. Let's say I'm confident and comfortable in my own manly skin.

19.  __________________________

I'm skipping this one as it was printed. My 86 year-old mother reads this blog.

20. Try as many drugs as possible. Also, if possible, before 9:00 P.M. on a Tuesday.

Did I mention heart surgery? I now take a medley of medications with enough side-effects to make me strip naked and howl at the moon. Put that on your list, Esquire.

21. Make an incredibly important decision very quickly. One example: go from single to married in six whole days.

My Amazing-Missus and I had our first date on a New Year's Eve, we're engaged on Valentine's Day and married in June.

22. Coach kids. Not necessarily your own.


23. Pick two to four friends. Go on annual vacations. No significant others allowed.


24. Develop a personal uniform.

This is one I really want to do.

25. Learn to tell a joke. When in doubt, mock the powerful, not the powerless. And focus on the things that everyone hates or loves. One tip: Everyone hates Congress – even Congress.

I've been doing this successfully since childhood. My fourth-grade teacher said so.

26. Hold a newborn’s hand.

Check. And I will get to do it again in June when our third grand-girl is born.

27. Get lost in the world. Because when you don’t know where you are, you just might end up in the place where you most want to be. You don’t have to go to the Atacama Desert in Chile either. But it helps.

I've been lost in Chicago and St. Louis.

28. Change someone else's tire without having to be asked.


29. Offer a stem-winding toast to your father, in the presence of your father.

My Dad's a Baptist pastor. The only toast in our house had jelly on it.

30. Write a country song.

I wish I had written "I'd Rather Have A Bottle In Front of Me Than A Frontal Lobotomy."

31. Build an irresponsible fire.

My maternal grandmother warned us that boys who do this also wet the bed. Why risk it?

32. Shovel soil onto a casket.


33. Take a month off.

Off from doing what?

34. Face your own mortality by taking a physical risk.

Did I mention I took one of those $50 heart scans and that led to surgery?

35. Drive cross-country the other way—from Great Falls, Montana, to Austin, Texas.

Does Tulsa to Winnipeg, Canada count?

36. Walk somewhere at least fifty miles away.

All at once?

37. Climb Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Not interested.

38. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

We've driven the Pacific Coast Highway.

39. Hondle. It's about shamelessness, about asking and asking and not caring when you get shot down. Once you achieve shamelessness, the world opens its arms to you.

"Hondle" is apparently a version of haggling over price, but with the added dimension of shamelessness. To do something shamelessly is a good addition to the list.

40. Quit your job. Especially if you are miserable.

Sort of did this, but not until I had a new one lined up.

41. Kill your dinner. No store-bought stranger-killed meat will ever taste so good.

Does fishing count?

42. Put your phone down. Seriously, just put it down.


43. Make enemies! Stand for something.

Done more times than I care to admit.

44. Sleep outside, next to a fire.


45. Sleep outside, in a public park.


46. Try really @#$%^& hard to be great at one thing.

Time will tell.

47. Help to bring life into the world.


48. Switch your lights off, even if just for a second, while driving late on a moonless night on a two-lane road.

Does just forgetting to turn them on count?

49. Reach or explore your peak performance levels while stinking drunk.

How would you know? Is there a meter or a buzzer that goes off?

50. Live your nightmare. An example was doing standup comedy.

I have been talking about doing the standup comedy, once, at an open-mic night. I've been working on my routine.

51. Learn how to make an Old-Fashioned at the drop of a hat.

Not interested.

52. Ride a horse. At full tilt. Across a field.

Done that. The horse was in total control. I was just an unwilling passenger.

53. Make something with your hands. We know a guy who makes violins in a little shop, which he also made. We know another guy who makes large abstract sculptures: blocks of stone that weigh tons. We're happy they make these things and are sort of in awe of their process and results. But we're talking about something more useful. Make something useful with your hands.

My handmade stuff tends more to the aesthetic than the utilitarian. 

54. Make a sandwich at three in the morning.

Probably have.

55. Swim naked. (At least 30 minutes after that sandwich)


56. Sing for your supper. Like literally sing to strangers in the hopes they toss change and maybe even some bills in your hat.

While I don't want to be the singer, I do have on my bucket list to be a part of a street-performing group.

57. Meet your hero, if you have one.

I have several and have met most of them.

58. Have a hero.


59. Spend an afternoon reading in the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library.

Check. It was a cold, rainy day. I would do it again.

60. Walk away from a conversation you aren’t enjoying without explanation.


61. Get fired, for cause.

Done. Apparently, I just wasn't cut out to be a school bus driver.

62. Talk to your father. About his life before you knew him. Sooner rather than later.

Some, but not enough.

63. Sail continuously for three days and nights on the open ocean.

I am actually certified in Coastal Sailing and Navigation. Part of the certification was a multi-night sail.

64. Master a skill with your non-dominant hand, like shaving or brushing your teeth.

I can chord my ukelele with my non-dominant hand.

65. Get married at least once.


66. Hire someone.


67. Fire someone.


68. Watch a kid's show. Figure out its message. Incorporate that message into your general outlook.

No doubt, Captain Kangaroo had a huge impact on my worldview.

69. Attend the launch of a rocket.

Mostly bottle-rockets.

70. Believe in something fervently, with every fiber of your being; then believe in its opposite.

Yes, but that's a whole other post.

71. Eat at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles, Los Angeles.

I have eaten at Sear's Fine Foods in San Francisco--the best pancakes and waffles I've even eaten.

72. Walk around New York City all night. Because a walk like this is not possible in any other city in the country. You can't plan such a walk. You just have to be ready for it.

Pretty much all night.

73. Commit a petty crime.

I was involved for a very short time in an organized crime ring. We were all in the 7th grade. I won't go into the sordid details.

74. Read any novel you “read” in high school. Be amazed.

I regularly reread a novel we were not allowed to read in high school-- "Catcher In The Rye", and it is amazing.

75. Read Huckleberry Finn.


76. Read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Check. Don't judge me.

77. By the way: you need not do any of these things no matter what anyone says: Learn a foreign language. Watch The Wire. Run a marathon. Develop character by setbacks. Fast for longer than theologically necessary. Have a picnic. Work at a standing desk. Visit a sex club. Attend the Super Bowl. Join any given social-media platform. Count your lucky stars. Drink absinthe. “See the world.”


78. Do something incredibly interesting and refuse to monetize it.

Several times.

79. Have a pair of shoes made.

Can't even imagine it.

80. Run for office, win.

Done with politics.

81. Run for office, lose.

Check. I once ran for local school board. I lost, which in retrospect was actually a win.

82. Spend some time in Detroit, where you can do most of the things on this list with impunity.


83. Don’t have a life list. Keep on like before—travel, eat, go places—until the things you’ve done, rather than the things you’ve yet to try, define the man that you are.

Advice taken.

So, what's on your list?