Tag Archives: things to do before you die

The Elusive Bucket List

Although there are more pressing matters at hand, I’ve got to get to work on my Bucket List. I thought such things would have faded away by now but everyone in America (and Australia) seems to not only have such a list but has put it online and differentiated between the items that have, and those that have not, been accomplished. I’m starting to feel as though not having a list with at least 47 items on it, with at least one check off,  is a shortcoming.

Interestingly enough, I recently learned about the origin of this pop culture phrase. When screenwriter Justin Zackham was putting together his list of “things to do before he kicked the bucket,” one of the items was “Write A Really Annoying Movie That Would Serve As a Vehicle For Two Once Vibrant But Now Fading Actors.” Voila! The movie The Bucket List was born, changing the lives of middle-aged people across the nation.

[By the way, I would be more excited about Zackham’s TV show Lights Out if it starred Tony Danza as the former heavyweight boxing champ struggling to find his identity after the ring AND if that new identity turned out to be being a nanny and housekeeper for two precocious kids.]

I worked with a woman who liked the movie The Bucket List with an intensity that made me uncomfortable. If the room ever got quiet (I worked in a room with two other people, her being one of them) she would break the silence by saying something like, “Rebecca, what’s on your Bucket List?” I would have to bite back comments like, “Item number one is to  say something like, ‘The tribe has spoken,’ and then cut out your tongue,” and make stuff up like, “Bike through Vietnam,” or “Climb that mountain that everyone is always climbing and leaving their trash on top of.”

Then she’d say something like, “My Bucket List includes visiting an elephant sanctuary and helping retired circus elephants,” which was touching and made me sympathetic towards her until she would do something like turn on Zydeco music and dance around the room or tell us about the last time she got to tour a plantation.

People have any number of things on their Bucket Lists. For example, unbeknownst to me, my mother’s Bucket List included being a member of a dragonboat team. I didn’t even know what a dragonboat was until suddenly she was on a team. Paddling on the team makes her supremely happy. The last time I was home she was surfing the Internet, hungry for more dragonboat news. I guess this is a case of Bucket List Gone Right.

If you Google “Bucket List” the first thing that comes up is, of course,  the beloved film. But then there are many websites and blogs dedicated to people’s pursuits of their own lists. There are even sites dedicated to helping you come up with a bucket list if you can’t come up with one for yourself.

Let’s think about that for a moment. You can’t come up with anything you’d like to do before you die… so… you’re ready to die, don’t you think? Unless, “Watch another season of America’s Got Talent,” can qualify as a Bucket List item, I think you’re about done on this planet. Stop taking up resources.

Here are some items I saw on various Bucket Lists on the web:

Take a jumping picture. Now, do you need to write this down? Writing it down would take longer than taking a jumping picture. And if you can’t just take a picture of you jumping then… is it really all that important? “Oh, it’s December 2014 and I still haven’t gotten around to taking that jumping picture and now I can’t jump anymore because of my knees. Well… I guess I give up that dream.”

Cage of Death. I’m not making this up. Someone simply has “Cage of Death” on their Bucket List. I have no idea where this cage is located but I’m going to guess it’s very close to hell. Yes, I would love, love, love to be put into a Cage of Death and then go to get ice cream.

Win a stupid competition. Uh… check.

Get a job delivering pizzas on a motorbike. I guess the motorbike is supposed to add glamor to an otherwise sad ambition.

Make love with guys from each country. I’m telling you right now, Afghanistan is going to be a tough one, Western Devil Temptress! Also, I don’t know… those red beards… not really a turn-on.

Help a child survive. Millions of people do this each day. It’s called parenting.

Sing karaoke with a drag queen (or lip sync). Why??? Let me guess what the song would be… Would it be, by any chance, “I Will Survive?”

Get a joke Lonely Hearts ad in the newspaper. And then you know what would be super funny? If a real Lonely Heart answered the ad, thinking that you were the person he or she was looking for and you could be like, “Ha ha ha, loser! That was a FAKE ad! Which makes you a bigger loser because you FELL FOR IT, silly, hopeful Lonely Heart.”

Get a meaningful tattoo. Which can only mean one thing:  Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck playing hacky sack.

Oh, the fun of looking through people’s bucket lists could go on and on for days! Possibly my favorite bucket list had only two items on it. Number one was, “Make a bucket list,” and number two was “Learn to play a tin whistle,” which couldn’t possibly be very time-consuming or difficult. Setting yourself up for success – now that’s what I’m talking about.

But I still don’t know if I’m confident enough to start my own list. It seems like a huge commitment to doing a lot of zany stuff and, at the same time, a comment upon my very being. One does not want to produce an obvious or boring list. It is not enough to say something like “Sky dive,” because everyone (really – I saw it on about 30 lists) has that on their list. It needs to be more daring and have elements that surprise and delight. So maybe, “Sky dive naked while eating salmon that was not farm-raised.”

Instead of “Drink Dom Perignon while watching polar bears in the wild,” it should be “Have Dom Perignon sipped from my bellybutton while watching polar bears eat seals in the wild but be too drunk to feel bad for the seals.” Instead of “Celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday by returning with her to the barn where she was born,” it should be “Take my Grandma to da club for her 100th birthday and order VIP bottle service and then leave without paying so we can joy ride out to the place where the barn she was born in used to stand before it became a Kwik Trip.”

Brevity in Bucketing would not be my strong suit. The truth is that my list would just become a complicated, amended, edited mess that I would start over at the beginning of every month along with my promises to diet and exercise.

Annoyed and confused, I asked Keith if he has a bucket list.

“Nope,” he said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I’m too young.”

Well, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. My attempts to explain that even young people have such lists today, that it’s never to early to start, were met with indifference.

So here’s a Bucket List item that maybe only the band  The Who would truly appreciate: Die before having a Bucket List becomes an issue.