Jul. 12, 2022

The Bucket List: Wieners, Beer & Rock-n-roll

Almost everyone who has suddenly realized that their birth certificate does not have an extended warranty has a bucket list. These lists are filled with often exotic, daring, one-of-a-kind goals, opportunities and destinations that we would be boldly making plans to check off if we weren't so busy watching viral YouTube videos or binge-watching "Yellowstone."

I have three items on my bucket list. These are the just-for-me bucket list items, not the ones that include members of my family, like getting everbody to Disney at the same time. I've given them a great deal of thought.

BUCKET LIST ITEM #1: Ride in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

This was actually related to my career. I was a high school English teacher, and it was my dream to someday arrive at school in the Wienermobile. Just imagine the scene: Several buses are pulled to the sidewalk in front of the high school, vomiting surly teenagers toward the school entrances. Suddenly, the Wienermobile slides into an open space at the curb. All of the gloomy faces light up, and kids who haven't sung the 'Oh-I'd-love-to-be-an-Oscar-Mayer-Wiener' song since they were seven are belting it out with their friends at the top of their lungs. And then the door of the Wienermobile opens, and out I step, ready to do the best teaching of my career, brand new Wiener Whistle in hand. As a teacher, you can't buy that kind of street cred. Unfortunately, that never materialized during my career. It would still be pretty cool if the Wienermobile someday showed up at my house and gave me a ride through the center of downtown Mukwonago where I could wave to all my friends. It's the sort of thing that could really cement my reputation as the village eccentric.

BUCKET LIST ITEM #2: Have a beer.

True story: I've never had a beer. I've never had an alcoholic beverage of any kind. I seamlessly made the transition from obedient high school athlete to designated driver to career without touching a drop, and the longer I went without, the more interesting a conversation starter it seemed to be. So I kept the streak of not-drinking going. But I'm retired now. Time to stop showing off. And since My Lovely Wife Marsha and I plan to do some traveling--and immersing oneself in the culture of an area often means in its unique food and drink--I figure it's time. Yet, 67 years of temperance is a hell of an investment. So I'm wondering if I can sell my beerginity to one of the Big Beer Companies? Just imagine: Me on TV, bottle of Beer X in hand, smiling, ready to take my first sip. And the voiceover: 'Beer X: The taste worth waiting 67 years for!' Then me sipping. Then me smiling like crazy, whether I liked it or not, because I just got a big payday. It would be nice if they film it on a tropical beach somewhere, the sunset in the background.

BUCKET LIST ITEM #3: Play tambourine for ONE song with The Rock Bottom Remainders

The Rock Bottom Remainders is a very unusual rock band. It consists of big-name writers like Stephen King, Dave Barry, Mitch Albiom, Scott Turow, Amy Tan and others who get together on an occasional basis to play something resembling classic rock. I am not Rock Bottom Remainders material at this time, partly because each of those authors sells more books during a morning sneeze than I do in an entire year. And also partly because I have little-to-no musical talent. But I have a good enough sense of rhythm to jangle a tambourine along on rock classics for a single song, and what a thrill to do so standing among authors who are so respected that their grocery lists, if bound in hard cover, would sell for $30 a pop and make the New York Times Bestseller List.

There you have it. World travel, unique experiences, interesting people. My bucket list has everything. I recently visited an online site to see what people's most popular bucket list items were, and coming in at #4 was writing a novel. Which means it's possible that the Rock Bottom Remainders are going to have to invest in a lot of tambourines. And I also just learned that there's an incarnation of the Wienermobile that actually has a BED in it!

I may have to modify my bucket list slightly.