Thursday, September 07, 2006

The 74 Things I Did

Yesterday, I printed this list. Here are the stories behind the things I did.

1 - Bought everyone in the bar a drink.

I've done this a lot, actually. I was the only one in the bar most of the time, but it's still technically true.

3 - Climbed a mountain.

That would be Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire (pictured above) at an elevation of 3,165 feet. I climbed it when I was 15.

I was one of a party of folks from The Paulist Center in Boston, a somewhat radical Roman Catholic church that was always at odds with the Archdiocese for one reason or another. If the Archdiocese could have read my thoughts as I was climbing the mountain, it probably would have gotten the whole crew of us excommunicated.

I spent the entire climb directly behind a woman in a pair of tight-fitting jeans. As a result, being 15 and all, I spent the entire climb fantasizing about what I would have liked to do to what was in those jeans. You know how you get a donkey to pull a wagon by dangling a carrot in front of it? In this case, the ass was in front of the carrot and that's what got me up the mountain.

8 - Said "I love you" and meant it.

I've never said it without meaning it.

9 - Hugged a tree.

Just high in the woods one day with a bunch of friends. We all did it. I guess we all had an attack of latent druidism or something.

11 - Visited Paris.

If I was more adept at scanning, I'd show you the postcards.


13 - Stayed up all night long and saw the sunrise.

Most often with chemical help.

15 - Gone to a huge sports game.

I don't know exactly what qualifies as "huge", but I've been to Celtics and Bruins playoff games. On an international front, MY WIFE and I attended the World Curling Championships.

17 - Grown and eaten your own vegetables.

When I was a kid, I planted a small garden in the backyard. I know I grew more than one thing, but what I remember eating is the corn. The ears were somewhat small and had a wormhole here and there, but not too bad overall. We lived.

19 - Slept under the stars.

The first time was with the Boy Scouts. Since then it has been with various Girl Scouts. Be prepared!

22 - Watched a meteor shower.

In New Hampshire, my Dad's place was in a small town called Thornton and the night sky was amazingly sharp and clear due to lack of any other lights in the immediate vicinity. I just sat out on the back deck, having a smoke and enjoying the show.

24 - Given more than you can afford to charity.

Yeah, but it's way too self-serving to even bold this one, nevermind go into details.

25 - Looked up at the night sky through a telescope.

When I was a little kid, my Dad had a telescope in his closet. I took it out once or twice. My initial objective was to try and find windows with naked women in them, but then I actually took a look at the North Star and then the Dog Star. In other words, once I got tired of the Little Dipper, I got Sirius.

Hah! Ask me why I have butter on my pants.

(Why do you have butter on your pants?)

Because I'm on a roll, baby! (*rimshot*)

26 - Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment.

This one is actually funny.

My Aunt's Mother-In-Law - my cousin's grandmother - had died. The wake was one night, the funeral the next day. MY WIFE and I went to the church for the funeral and took a seat in a pew somewhat towards the back. We weren't immediate family, so we didn't feel like it would have been right to sit up front with my aunt, my cousins, etc.

The organ music played and the priest entered from the back of the church, along with the casket and funeral directors. We stood up along with everybody else as the casket rolled by. It reached the foot of the altar and the priest started the mass.

Everything was about as normal as a funeral mass gets, until the priest began speaking about the deceased.

"It's always hard to lose a loved one, but especially when he was beloved by so many. All who knew him, loved him. He..."

He? Him? Oh, God, we're at the wrong church.

OH... MY... GOD... We're at the wrong funeral!

We both looked at each other and that was that. I was biting my tongue so hard it almost bled. MY WIFE tried desperately to stifle her laughter. She was emitting these little gasps - "“huh...huh...huh..." - that, given the circumstances, sounded like crying. Folks were turning around from the front, wondering who this woman was who was so devastated by the death of... whoever the heck was in the box. She wasn't going to be able to hold it much longer and neither was I. We both got up and walked as quickly and graciously as possible to the back door of the church, my arm around her shoulders as though she were having a breakdown, with every ounce of our remaining strength going towards NOT ruining this innocent funeral.

As soon as we got outside and the door closed behind us, MY WIFE collapsed on the front steps of the church and let out her laughter in long, rasping breaths. Now she really was crying. I joined her in both. We couldn't speak for a good two or three minutes, we were laughing so hard. MY WIFE later told me that if she hadn't gotten outside at that very moment, she would have peed herself right where she sat in the church. I wouldn't have been far behind her.

We often wonder whose funeral it was that we attended and whether the deceased left behind a widow who, to this day, wonders if her late husband had a floozy on the side who was so broken up that she couldn't take it anymore and had to leave.

27 - Had a food fight.

Once, in a church basement, with about 6 or 7 other teenagers. It was a few minutes of fun, but considering that we all had to do about an hour of clean-up afterwards, it wasn't worth it.

28 - Bet on a winning horse.

Many times. On the non-winner, many more times.

30 - Had a snowball fight.

I grew up in Boston. That would be a big yes.

31 - Screamed as loudly as you possibly could.

One of the big stupid fads of the 70's was something called Primal Scream Therapy, wherein you were supposed to scream like all hell to release negative energy or maybe just to piss off your neighbors, I forget which. I did it a few times. It didn't help.

33 - Seen a total eclipse.

Sorry, no funny eclipse stories, but, yes, I've seen a couple.

34 - Ridden a roller coaster.

Considering my fear of heights, you'd think maybe I wouldn't have done this. I did, however, and enjoyed it, too. Looking back on what transpired, I might have been lucky that the only thrill I got was from the roller coaster.

I was on vacation with my parents in Copenhagen and we went to Tivoli, the great Danish amusement park. I was probably 13. While they were doing something else, I wandered off to see what rides I might like to take. There was this one ride that appeared to travel through tunnels and such. It looked like fun, so I got in line.

While I was in line, an older gentleman got in line behind me. He struck up a conversation with me. In Danish. At least, I assume it was Danish, since we were in Denmark. I said something in English and he got the idea.

Pointing at himself, he said, "Dane."

I pointed at me. "American."

"America! Ah! Like?", he said, pointing towards the ride.

"I don't know. I haven't been on it yet."

That didn't really register, so then I just said, "Yes", and smiled.

"Yes! Ah! Also Yes!", he said, pointing at himself again.” He then pulled a bunch of tickets for rides from his pocket and started handing some to me.

Excellent! I took them, as any dumb-ass but greedy teenager would. We got to the head of the line and we each handed tickets to the conductor or whatever he's called. He shuttled us both into the front car.

The ride turned out to be an indoor roller coaster, all in darkness. I had no ability to see, so no fear of heights. It was a lot of fun. Meanwhile, the Dane was laughing and putting his arm around my shoulder and leaning into me on the turns.

Look, I can be pretty thick sometimes. It wasn't until many years later that I considered the possibility that he might have had more on his mind than just being friendly to a foreigner. And that may have been all he DID have in mind. He was an older man, jolly-fat, well-dressed. He never made any outright gropes at me or anything and when I got off the ride (after our second time through) and went to find my parents, he just waved good-naturedly and smiled to beat the band. I still want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not everybody who's kind to kids is a pervert.

35 - Hit a home run.

I'm not David Ortiz or Barry Bonds -– or even Mark Belanger - but I've hit enough of them that I don't need to go into detail. At this late point in my "career" I've got almost no power left. I don't know if I'll ever hit another one, but, yes, I have hit some before.

38 - Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment.

More often than not, for way more than a moment.

And I hope that's how you feel, too, especially since I'm going to drag this out to another day. But, if you come back, remember... Coed Naked Snow Jogging!

See you then.


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