A while back several of my friends posted a Bucket List meme on their Facebook page – one of those “Have you ever” sorts of things that were popular back in the wild, wild youth of social media (c.2009). I really enjoyed reading them – you don’t get stuff like this on Facebook anymore, among the clickbait, political arguments, and sponsored advertising – and I thought I should post my own version.
But two things kept me from doing so.
For one, my life has been pretty much a straight sprint for the last month or two and it has been difficult to carve out the time to think about such things. It’s not a very complicated task that the meme sets out for you – put an X next to the things you’ve done – but that gets me to the second thing, which is that a list like this really begs for explanation. How can you put an X next to something like Rode In the Back of a Police Car without telling people what got you into that situation? It’s just a tease, that’s what it is.
For the record, I have never ridden in the back of a police car. Or the front. Fire trucks, yes – both front and back and several times in the hose bed, in full turnout gear and in street clothes and in dress uniform, full lights and siren as well as just cruising off to drills – but never a police car.
I find myself with a bit of time tonight – a breather in between sprints – and I thought I’d go through the list and annotate it. So here it is.
Have I ever:
Fired a Gun
No. I have never had an interest in firing a gun, don’t understand why anybody would want to fire a gun, and have no intention of ever firing a gun. I realize that this puts me several miles out of step with my native culture here in ‘MERCA! but so it goes. I’ll add it to the pile with my tea, my books, my soccer and hockey games, and my dislike of beer.
Gone on a blind date
No. All of the women who have dated me knew what they were getting into from the start, and I commend their bravery.
No. I liked school (see “miles out of step” above) and once I got over the shock of getting out of bed I enjoyed it most of the time. I did skip a few classes in college, mostly in order to work backstage and never more than one or two class periods total for an entire semester. Hey – those classes cost money!
Watched someone give birth
Yes – twice in fact. I was there in the room when both of my daughters were born, though I posted myself at shoulder level rather than further down as my doctorate is in the liberal arts rather than in medicine.
Watched someone die
Yes, also twice. And that is all I am going to say about that.
Yes, a couple of times though never for long, most recently when we drove through Ontario from Niagara Falls to Michigan on the way back to Wisconsin, maybe a decade or so ago. I remember eating at a Tim Horton’s somewhere along the way – they took American money 1:1, which was probably a profit for them but I didn’t mind paying that price in US currency so I figured it was okay. And I remember the fact that even before you needed a passport to travel between the US and Canada it was a bear to get back into the US. There’s a whole lot of rules and regulations here in the land of the free. It took us maybe ten minutes to get into Canada, but nearly three hours of stopped traffic to get into the US.
No. I believe I am just about the only person on my side of the family who has not, in fact.
Yes, either two or three times depending on how you feel about Britain being part of Europe. Every time was to visit friends.
Visited Las Vegas
No. It’s not on my list of places I need to visit, either. I have been in casinos a number of times without gaining any understanding of why they are attractive. I don’t really need more buffets. And my idea of entertaining nightlife generally involves more reading or hanging out with friends and family than I imagine the tourism board of Las Vegas would appreciate.
Visited Washington DC
Yes, many times. The joy of growing up on the East Coast is that you get to do that. The Smithsonian is a national jewel, the Lincoln Memorial is the most sacred spot in the entire United States, and my friend Matt and I once spent a thoroughly entertaining half hour watching a semi try to make an acute angle turn at one of those complicated half-mile-wide intersections that you only get when someone plops a grid system of streets directly on top of a wheel and spoke system of streets and things meet tangentially.
No. My dad always wanted to go to China, but this desire was something I did not inherit.
No. While I am perfectly happy to agree that Africa is a glorious and worthwhile place, it holds no attraction for me.
No. Florida is where the US keeps the people who are too crazy to live in Texas, and that’s good enough for me to stay very far away from the place.
No. I’d probably enjoy it, even if it is one of the few places on earth where I’m more likely to be shot than here in the US. Maybe someday.
No. And this is something I have always wanted to correct. I generally travel to visit people, not places, but the one great exception to that rule is that I’ve long wanted to visit Australia. I’m not sure why.
Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Not yet, but I expect this to change in the very near future. Stay tuned!
Flown in a helicopter
No. This is another thing that I have always wanted to do. Way back when I was but a wee lad there was a short-lived cop show called 240-Robert or something like that, and it featured as one of its characters the pilot of a police helicopter (played by the same actress who would later play the very tall blonde cop on Hill Street Blues, as I recall). I thought that would be a great career at the time. Didn’t work out that way, unfortunately.
Been on a cruise
No. I’m not really much of a boat person, to be honest, and since mostly what you do on those things is eat I figure I can do that at home.
Served on a jury
No, but not for lack of trying. I’ve been called for jury duty three times. The first was in Philadelphia when I was in college, and they never did actually ask me to come down in person. The second was in Pittsburgh when I was in graduate school. I asked if they could postpone me to the summer, as I couldn’t miss teaching classes (there are no subs at the college level), and I figured most people would want to skip serving in the summer so they’d be glad to have me. They agreed, but never did call back. The closest I ever got was here in Our Little Town, where I actually had to go down to the courthouse a couple of times during the month that I was on call. They got to jury selection only once – a property line case, as I recall – but before my name came up the case was settled and we all went home. I’d like to be on a jury at least once, though.
Been in a movie
Yes if you count television movies. In second grade my class became the background for a made-for-tv movie about a developmentally disabled kid, and we made it onto television. I’m the one who walked directly in front of the camera and blacked out the entire screen for a second. You can’t miss me.
Yes. I was there for a college friend’s wedding and spent 36 hours in the place, not that I was counting. Most of that time was spent in a car, either on freeways that were dozens of lanes across and moving at about a dozen miles an hour, or in tiny little alleyways. My friend got divorced not long after that, so I’m not sure what that says about the whole experience.
Been to New York City
Yes, many times. My brother lives there and we visit when we can. I’ve had friends there. I’ve gone there with friends. It’s a great city – you can find just about anything there, and it really does sound like it does in the movies. It also, just as the song says, never sleeps – my brother and I once walked to a grocery store at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night and half the shops on the way were open, the sidewalks were jammed with pedestrians, and the traffic was at its honking best. The first time I was there was with my parents, though – I have no idea how old I was, but it couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6. We took the train up from Philadelphia, looked at the dinosaurs in one of the museums, and peered into the fog at the top of the Empire State Building. In 7th grade we took a class trip up to New York and I got to go all the way up to the top of the World Trade Center. You can’t do that anymore, sadly enough.
Cried yourself to sleep
No. I’m either fine or I stay up.
Played in a band
Yes, indeed – a folk-rock band called Not The Catfish, mostly because we never did figure out a better name. Everyone should be in a band in college. It’s a lot of fun and requires no talent. We weren’t bad, really. And we had a lot of fun.
Recently colored with pencils
No. My artistic skills are limited to prose.
Yes. There was a bar on the outskirts of Pittsburgh that my friends and I would visit most Wednesday evenings just for that purpose. I got to hang out with the bassist from Rusted Root one evening that way – he was a very nice fellow. Once in a while the DJ let you bring your own CDs and she’d edit out the vocal tracks for you. That’s how a friend and I ended up singing the confrontation scene from Les Miserables – two straight guys singing Broadway in a Pittsburgh bar. I’m not sure they knew quite what to make of us.
Swam in the ocean
Yes, for certain values of swimming. I’m from Philadelphia. We vacation down the Jersey shore. That’s what we do. I’ve run, frolicked, rafted, and jumped waves, and somewhere in there I must have done something that looked like swimming. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Paid for a meal with coins only
Not to my recollection, unless you count ice cream. I have never been rich, but I have certainly led a fortunate life.
Made prank phone calls
No. I have no patience for being on the receiving end, and therefore no interest in being on the giving end.
Laughed so much you cried
Often. It’s a lovely way to spend time.
Caught a snowflake on your tongue
Yes. I grew up in a place where it snowed and I was a kid for much of that time. Of course I did.
Had a pet
Yes, many of them. Cats. Rabbits. Hamsters. I’m not sure the turkeys or chickens count. I’ve also had pet projects and peeves.
Been skinny dipping
Yes. There’s a lovely little beach just for that here in Wisconsin, in fact. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
Rappelled down a building/tower
No. You can have all my nopes on this one.
Gone zip lining
Yes. My uncle had one at his house in Tennessee, and we had a little one in our backyard for the girls when they were younger. But the big one was last year in Colorado – a quarter mile across a valley, and you had to climb a telephone pole up to a platform first. It was a lot of fun.
Been downhill skiing
No. I’ve been cross-country skiing a couple of times, but – as the old show Benson once put it, “Why would I strap two boards to my feet, get jerked up a mountain on a wire, and come down at 60 miles per hour with no brakes? With any luck I’d hit a tree.”
Been water skiing
No. All the reckless danger of downhill skiing plus the potential for oxygen-deprivation that you get with swimming. No thanks.
Been camping in a tent
Yes. I went a couple of times in high school, and a couple of times after I got married. Each time the main thing I enjoyed about the experience was the time spent with someone I loved. But I can do that at home, too, and far more comfortably.
Driven a motorcycle
No. I have driven a moped, though – one of my back neighbors when I was a kid in the 70s bought one and we all took turns zipping up and down the common driveway that bisected the block lengthwise. No, we had no helmets, pads, or training. Now get off my lawn.
Jumped out of a plane
No. Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?
Gone to a drive-in movie
Yes. Kim found a drive-in not all that far from here a couple of years ago and we went to see a double-feature of Planes 2 and Maleficent with the girls. Maybe it was the quality of the movies, but it wasn’t something I’ve felt a need to repeat. Although they did have a snack shop that sold truly greasy burgers, and that was a forbidden treat.
Done something that could have killed you
Yes. Nearly everything can kill you if you take it far enough, after all. And some things can do it faster than others. I’m still here, though.
Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life
Yes. Nothing big, but little things that I wish I had done differently. Whatever Sinatra might have to say about the matter, I think that if you don’t have any regrets then you haven’t been paying attention.
Rode an elephant
No. The girls got a chance to do that, though, at the Bristol Renaissance Faire one year. It was expensive, but then when were they going to get another chance to ride on an elephant? And they never have – the elephant disappeared after that year, presumably to more elephant-friendly confines.
Rode a camel
No. From what I gather camels are both foul-tempered and intelligent beasts who will hurt you just for the sheer thrill of it, and I can get my fill of that from watching politics.
Eaten just cookies or cake or ice cream for dinner
Yes. The things that I have made dinners out of over the course of my life vaguely horrify me now that I’m a parent.
Been on TV
Yes, a surprising number of times. In addition to the television movie, I’ve been on the local news quite a bit. That’s what happens when you run a museum in a small town – you become newsworthy, at least for a few years.
Been in newspaper
Yes, for much the same reason. Of course, the motto of the newspaper in the town where the museum was located actually was, “If it happens in [our town], it’s news to us.” So the bar for getting in wasn’t all that high.
Stolen any traffic signs
No, but I was party to the disappearance of a flashing construction sawhorse once. We put it back a couple days later. Seriously - what are you going to do with a flashing construction sawhorse?
Been in a car accident
Yes. Never any big ones, thankfully, but I have changed the shape of a number of things on the road.
Stayed in Hospital
No, not if you mean overnight. Other than being born, everything that's been done to me in a hospital was on an outpatient basis. I’m okay with that.
No. I hate needles. If they could punch me in the nose and give me a cup to collect the blood as it ran out, I’d be fine with that. But the needle thing? No.
Had to pay a fine in the past 12 months
No. I’ve paid very few fines in my life, actually.
No. Snails are vermin. As the Nac Mac Feegle put it, “With enough garlic, they taste of garlic.” I can put garlic on better tasting things.
Gotten a piercing
No. See above, re: needles.
Gotten a tattoo
No, for the same reason. Also, I really don’t have anything so critical to say that I’d want it etched on my person permanently.
Driven a standard car
Driven? Yes. Driven successfully? Not really. My dad tried to teach me when I was in high school, on a ’72 Nova with a slipping clutch. Kim tried to teach me on her car shortly after we got married. In both cases I did manage to get the car from point A to point B without permanently damaging either persons or vehicles, but also in both cases neither of my teachers saw it as worthwhile to continue my lessons.
Ever owned your dream car
No. I don’t dream of cars.
Been married till death do we part
Yes. 20 years and counting! Life is good.
No. I’m happy where I am, thanks.
Fallen in love
Yes, several times. I have never regretted any of them.
Paid for a strangers meal
Not directly, though yes if you count donations to groups that do that sort of thing.
Driven over 100mph
Yes. I can honestly say that I didn’t actually mean to do so, but it was late at night, there was nobody else on the road, I was driving through a forest on a straight highway, and the rental car didn’t make the same kind of rattling and clanking noises that my car made when it got over 55 mph, so I didn’t notice how fast I was going until I looked down at the speedometer. That was an interesting surprise.
Worked in a pub
No. I’ve never worked in food service at all.
Been scuba diving
No. I try not to engage in hobbies where if I screw up I can’t breathe.
Found a dead body
Yes, for certain values of found. It’s not like other people didn’t know where it was, but for a while I was tasked with guarding one at an accident scene when I was a volunteer firefighter. She was a young woman who had stopped to help an earlier accident and then been hit by a drunk driver coming over the hill. I hope that driver spent the rest of his life in jail.
Lived on your own
Yes, in a number of different places. I liked it, but I like living with my family even more.
Rode in the back of a police car
No. See above.
Written or published a book/story/poem/song
Yes. That’s what a dissertation is all about, really. And if this blog counts as publishing, well then I’m some kind of latter day William Randolph Hearst, am I not?