It’s said that every choice we make removes a multitude of other options from the board. Here, on the eve of my 50th birthday, is the last in a series, the things I’ll never do.
1. I’ll never grow out of this difficult phase.
2. I’ll never twist again, like we did last summer.
3. I’ll never get to the bottom of this 5-gallon jar of pickles I bought at WalMart for just $2.98.
4. I’ll never write The Great American Novel. Or even a serviceable Bolivian one.
5. I’ll never escape these ghosts of 3am.
6. I’ll never be a real dentist.
7. I never was — and I surely never will be again — as irresistible to women as I was during the twelve months I was engaged to my wife. Women in laundromats, women in Arctic rescue expeditions, women handcuffed in the backs of police cars, you name it, they were drawn to me like moths to a porchlight. You can’t tell me women don’t have a radar for men in commitment mode. They sense it immediately and THEY MUST HAVE IT.
8. “… eight, EIGHT, I forget what eight was for, but, nine, nine, NINE …”
9. I’ll never have a sidekick or a minion.
10. I’ll never run a full marathon before my 50th birthday. (Unless I run one later today.) I got in some halfs, and I still have a few left in me. Time is not on my side for a full 26.2 miles, though.
11. I’ll never find any solace in moderation.
12. I’ll never gather all the likely suspects in the drawing room of a grand mansion, fix each in turn with a penetrating look as I light my pipe, letting the silence draw out to unbearable length before revealing the perpetrator of this dastardly deed.
13. Or a perfect foil. (See item #9.)
14. I’ll never buy another Archers Of Loaf CD.
15. I’m never going to watch all the episodes of Weeds or The Wonder Years I have in my Netflix Instant Streaming queue. (Though I will read all four of John Updike’s Rabbit novels for a fourth and last time.)
16. It appears that I’ll never have another terrifying outbreak of acne. (My dermatologist was right! I DID grow out of it! It just took thirty years.)
17. I’ll never live it up. Or live that down.
18. I’ll never get over the peculiar joy of tuning in some low-wattage college radio station in the small hours of a summer night, just to hear what the heck they’re up to.
19. I’m never going to get a haircut any different from the one I’m wearing right now. (Brushed straight back, off the ears, off the collar.)
20. I’ll never know what readers want.
21. I’ll never turn on, tune in, and drop out. Or even attend Burning Man.
22. I’ll never get over how quickly kids grow up. I have a picture of my daughter and one of her friends from daycare. Abby and her friend Jordan. They’re two years old and they’re holding hands and grinning like baby fools because they’ve shown up at school wearing the same outfit (a stretchy two-piece thing, pants and top, probably from Kohls or Target) in the same color. I can remember that picture being taken. It seems like just a short while ago. Today, I drove those same two girls to summer camp. They’re twelve now and they’re sitting in the back seat talking about boys and pedicures and what clothes are cool and what foods are fattening and which aren’t so much, and I look at them in the rearview mirror and I see that they’re young women now. How did that happen?
24. I’ll never retire.
25. I’ll never get tired of making these stupid lists.