The Lunch Pail List

by Mike McHugh

131024 The Lunch Pail List I’m sure you recall that movie from a few years back called The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The film has got nearly everybody above the age of 50 making a list of things they want to accomplish before they ”kick the bucket.” Their goals are often ambitious, such as to visit all seven continents. As a result, the AARP is now inundated with calls from seniors asking where they can get member discounts on Sunday brunch in Antarctica.

I don’t see anything inherently wrong with bucket lists. It’s just that some folks get a bit carried away with what they put down. For instance, it may sound neat to drive a racecar once around the track at Daytona. However, for many such people, a more realistic goal might be to back out of the driveway without hitting the mailbox. Still, we’ve got seniors out there who want to climb the Matterhorn, skydive, bungee jump, and chase tornadoes. Yes, I said, “chase tornadoes.” This from people who probably won’t venture out in the rain to fetch the morning paper.

But lofty goals such as these seem quite sane compared to some of the ridiculous things that people sometimes put on their lists. A quick search on the Internet revealed several bucket list items that must belong to people who had medicated themselves a bit too heavily during the ‘60s. I’m talking things like, “cover a car with Post-It notes,” and “have a plant named ‘Robert Plant.’” While these are certainly do-able, even for someone with the agility and mental prowess of a garden slug, it begs the question, “huh?”

I was surprised to learn during my investigative work for this story that goofy items are quite common on people’s bucket lists. According to the world-renowned Cajun think tank, Boudreaux and Thibodeaux Research Associates, LLC, one of the more popular ones is to “ride down the stairs on a mattress.” I kid you not. While that sounds like fun, it seems a bit wimpy to merit a spot on one’s bucket list.  If you really want to do something involving furniture, why not really go for it and ride an office chair down a steeply-graded highway—you know, one of those that has the emergency ramps that truckers use when their brakes give out.

I, however, am not so ambitious as far as what I want to do before I die. I, like many people my age, do have a list, but, meager as it is, I refrain from calling it a “bucket list.” Mine is more of what you’d call a “lunch pail list.”

For example, some people want to learn to speak or read in a foreign language. I’d be satisfied if I could just learn to interpret my kids’ text messages.

Others would like to make a measurable impact on water quality in our country’s rivers and streams. As for me, I’d like to figure out to to keep the algae out of our swimming pool for just one summer.

Join a barbershop quartet or learn to yodel? I’d be happy to sing a hymn at church without causing cracks in the stained glass.

You won’t even find something as modest as walking through a corn maze on my list.  Hell, just once, I’d like to go to a Wal-Mart Supercenter and find a jar of con queso without getting hopelessly lost in the aisles.

Despite my modest goals, I still fear that I won’t succeed in crossing every item off my lunch pail list. But, as “Robert Plant” is my witness, I will die trying. And it certainly won’t be from choking on a penguin wing while having brunch at the Antarctica Sheraton.

Fleur White Small

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