Ebay is currently holding auctions for 10 Things To Do Before You Die, including floating weightless in a space simulator in Moscow, skydiving in Thailand, watching the Wimbledon gentleman’s final, driving a race car, and spending a night at the Burj-al-Arab hotel in Dubai. The highest bid, the last time I checked, was for the weightless experience. That’s what I would have bid for too, had I been bidding. Being an astronaut always seemed like it would be a kick, though it sounded like a little less fun after I read that farting inside a spacesuit can damage it.
At any rate, the Ebay auction naturally makes me want to create my own list of Things To Do Before I Die. None of them is about the wonderful places I want to visit, because it’s understood that that sort of thing is on everyone’s list. I plan to visit them all the minute I become one of the idle rich. No, my ambitions are more like a set of general principles that might prove to be improving in some way I don’t yet fully understand. Here is a random sampling of fifteen, in no particular order.
1. Read Finnegan’s Wake word for word, and understand it. It’s by James Joyce, and currently makes no sense at all.
2. Have a nice passport picture taken. The one I have to show to immigration officers all over the world for the next ten years was taken while I had conjunctivitis, and makes me look like one of the less valuable Picassos.
3. Stop compulsively editing spelling, grammar and pronunciation, and feeling resentful when other people don’t. Nobody likes it, and it’s weird, and it makes no difference to most of the world.
4. Learn one sport and play it respectably well. Scrabble counts.
5. Stop talking to the stuffed blue dragon on my desk. Because that’s really weird. Also, we’ve grown apart and he’s been spending a lot of time with the plaster skull next to him.
6. Buy a nice pair of sunglasses and never lose them. Ever. Ever. If I made a pile of all the sunglasses I’ve ever lost, I’d be able to lean comfortably against it.
7. Learn how to efficiently cook healthy, tasty food. I’ve begun by mastering how to optimally spread Nutella on bread. (The secret: slather it on, baby.)
8. Learn a foreign language, and use it to tune unpleasant people out. Even if they know I’m faking it, it’s my word against theirs. And who’s going to fight with you in a foreign language?
9. Stop smoking, even if it kills me. Particularly if it kills me.
10. Figure out when the people in 24 go to the bathroom just to pee, rather than to make covert mole-type phone calls or illegally upload satellite links to rogue operatives who keep telling them, “You’re going to have to trust me”.
11. Find the fountain of youth and the elixir of immortality, and then change the name of this list to just ‘Things To Do’.
12. Hunt down a Smurf and kneel on his chest until he tells me where his people get their hats.
13. Pretend to know what I’m doing with my life, like normal people. It makes one less of an outcast at parties, and besides, it’s the only way they’ll give me a credit card.
14. Master a musical instrument. Mine is the car horn.
15. Stop blaming my poor long-suffering mother for everything. (Ha ha! Only kidding. I just threw this one in to make her happy.)