17 June 2024

Reverse Bucket List

Things I will never do (in some cases, again):


Jump out of an airplane, with or without a parachute.

Eat an insect, even if cockroaches are more closely related to lobsters than spiders.

Drive 100 miles an hour, even on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Climb Mt. Everest.

Climb a ladder to change a light bulb more than eight feet off the ground.

Sing Karaoke.

Descend in a submarine of any type.

never-do item

Pose naked in a figure drawing class.

Ever spend another minute in:

  • Hampton, New Hampshire
  • Camden, New Jersey
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania
  • A 6th grade talent show

Compete in a talent show.

Celebrate New Years Day in Times Square.

Buy a lottery ticket.

Greyhound bus

Check into an ashram to find enlightenment.

Ride a Greyhound from New York to California.

Bungie jump.

Go to Disney Land. Disney World. Birthplace of Walt Disney.

Run a marathon.

Run for political office of any kind.

Run with the bulls.

never-do item


Dive off a ten-meter platform.

Learn Mandarin Chinese.

Complete my own federal tax return.

Program a universal remote control.

Rebuild an automatic transmission.

Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Reason with a teenaged girl.

never-do item

Saw off a body part to free myself from a boulder (easier than the above item.)

Roof the house.

Paint the house.

Paint my nails.

Paint still lifes.

Perform origami. Or auto harp.

Attend a concert in a sports stadium.

Ride a unicycle.

Ride a roller coaster. Luge.

never-do item

Descend into a coal mine.

Change genders.

Take up gourmet cooking.

Publish a cookbook.

Hang glide.

Drive a motorcycle.

Drive an 18-wheeler.

Ride a mechanical bull.


Drink a glass of tap water in Tijuana, Mexico.

Spend more than one hundred dollars in a casino.

Try to play a violin.

Be rude to a checkout clerk/waitress/flight attendant/bouncer.

Cut down a tree with a diameter greater than 12 inches.

Change my own oil.


Remove my own appendix (maybe in a pinch).

Dye my hair.

Tap dance.



Buy bitcoin.


Go to a sporting event with my face painted in my team’s colors.

Understand quantum mechanics, though I keep trying.

Sail to Bermuda.

Or across the Atlantic Ocean. Or the Pacific Ocean. Or any other large body of water without a helicopter on the foredeck ready to fly me to dry land.

Stop opposing racism, sexism, fatism, ageism, culturalism or any other ism that threatens or demeans any distinct group of people.

Stop opposing political correctness or any other curtailment of free speech.

Have cosmetic surgery.

Swallow a sword.

sword swallower

Eat a glass.

Watch daytime television (even worse).

Join a fraternal organization.

Affiliate with a political party.

Attend a fundraiser for a political candidate.

Assert the merits of a political position with a stranger.

Mountain climb.


Dress up in drag.


Get a tattoo.

Travel to Moldova.

Open a retail outlet.

Teach kindergarten, or any course south of post graduate.

Compete in a hot dog eating contest.

disgusting hotdog eating contest


Slaughter a pig, or any other animal.

It might be hypocritical, since I eat meat, but I couldn’t do the deed myself. I can’t even catch a fish or step on a bug.


Write a negative book review (if you can't write anything nice, don't write anything at all).


  1. Proofread… too funny.

    Eat a glass? You mean a glass glass? Silicon dioxide? Is that possible? I’ve seen a lightbulb supposedly eaten, but I vow never to eat silica in any form. It’s not kosher, I’m pretty sure, it’s not halal.

    Chris, I’ve watched the title of your article as it climbed the queue, curious what it was all about. Now that I’ve read it, I like the concept and I agree with most of your choices.

    But Boise? I visited only a few days consulting for the university. Although I turned down a job offer, I liked the place, especially the park on either side if the river. Did I dodge its dark side?

    Chris, I’m concerned about one item. The article opens with “Things I will never do (in some cases, again)” and referring to the item, “Change genders,” does that mean more than once?

    Clever essay, Chris. I enjoyed it.

    1. It's been a few years since I was in Boise, so it might have experienced a worthy urban renewal. I stayed in a flop house, my sleep interrupted by a drunk guy standing in the doorway extoling the virtues of that shabby old room. On the other hand, I fancied the the rest of Idaho. Glad you liked it. Things I won't do again include descending into a coal mine. That's me, lower left, about to go in. I was writing an article, of course, and writers will do much of anything when they're young. As to gender, cleaving to my original intent, though I wouldn't begrudge anyone the choice, including one of my grandchildren.

    2. I grew up in Philly and spent my college summers as a lifeguard on the Jersey shore. There was a Philadelphia Eagle named Tim Rossovich who was famous for eating shot glasses. He was AWOL from summer camp one summer, hiding out in Wildwood NJ at a bar that catered to the lifeguard trade (rough place, you think?). That's where I saw him do it. So I know it's possible, though not to my taste.

  2. Thing I will never do: make a list of things I will never do. I could never complete it. I thoroughly enjoyed yours, however. By the way, have you tried grasshoppers? Not as tasty as ants, but not bad.
    Edward Lodi

    1. Crabs and lobsters are as close as I'll ever get.

  3. I have regretted doing most of those things on your list that I have actually done. The one exception -- run for political office. Many years ago, I ran for a local political office on a write-in ballot. My platform was to eliminate the totally useless office. I won with less than two dozen votes total -- the smallest number of votes in that election cycle by a factor of at least fifty. Within a year, I manage to get the office eliminated; it took a special action by the State Legislature, but it was done.

    Also, Edward, when in the seventh grade, a group of us tried some fried insects, because one is really stupid in the seventh grade. The bees and ants were actually pretty tasty, but the grasshoppers were really disgusting. I still have nightmares about that.

  4. Grasshoppers? Yuck! I tried some in the seventh grade, because everybody -- especially boys -- is really stupid in the seventh grade. Ants and bees were okay, but grasshoppers? Yickety-poo-yuck! I still have nightmares.

    1. One of my aunts gave me a tin of fried grasshoppers in my Christmas stocking. I took it to school and one boy tried it… the doctor's son. Come to think of it, if our ancestors had chowed down during those locust plagues, Biblical times might have been a little happier.

  5. I agree I will never, willingly, knowingly, eat an insect. I will also never bungee jump, skydive (unless it's an emergency), ride another roller coaster (I made a deal with God on the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia), run for any office, or watch any reality TV show other than the Ruth Goodman / Peter Ginn incredibly accurate historical recreations of Tudor Monastery Farm, etc.
    On the other hand, who knows what I'll do? If I could get better knees, I'd mountain climb, and / or go to India, and do more hiking on the Appalachian Trail. And I would do almost anything to do the Genji Trail in Kyoto. That's why I keep buying lottery tickets. ;)

    1. I walked the Genji Trail. That I would do again.

  6. Why are those four cities off limits? Inquiring minds want to know. And your stand on daytime TV comes across as--sorry--snobby. Don't knock the soaps until you try 'em.

    1. Spent a sleepless night in Hampton, NH listening to drunken young people roar up and down the street. The place is appalling. You can read my reply to Leigh on Boise. I grew up in Philadelphia, across the river from Camden. Maybe it's improved since then, but I don't think so. Altoona is much like other drab old Pennsylvania coal towns. Depressing and retrograde. As to daytime TV, I haven't watched any television aside from an hour or so a night of streaming series, in about forty years. So again, maybe it's improved. On the other hand, as a mood eroding experience, daytime TV that I've been afflicted by in waiting rooms is right up there with a few days in Altoona.

  7. Elizabeth Dearborn17 June, 2024 16:31

    Walt Whitman is buried in a mausoleum in Camden, N.J. I took a photo of an ex-boyfriend, who was also a poet, standing in front of it & somehow it got double-exposed, making a really weird effect. I wish I hadn't lost that silly photo. But another time I was changing buses in Camden at 7:00 a.m. on my way to visit my uncle in prison in Fort Dix, N.J. A junkie was sitting in the middle of the street holding a cup in his shaking hands, trying for a little money.

    Things I'll never do? I won't ride a ferris wheel unless it's (1) indoors like at Tropworld casino in Atlantic City, & (2) permanently installed. Not moved from place to place by alcoholics & junkies who don't know what they're doing. Also I will never, ever again eat gefilte fish ... tasted it once by accident at a bar mitzvah & thought I was going to die.

  8. You might give the London Eye a try. It's permanent and you're in a completely sealed glass box. I share your antipathy for anything acrophobia inducing, but this why quite fun.

  9. Terrific list, Chris, though when I got to "saw off body parts" I checked and saw they weren't all "never again." Didn't THINK you'd done that once. You might have inspired me to try a list of things I'm glad I did way back and wouldn't dream of doing now, like going to Timbuctoo and drinking from a clear stream in upstate New York. Also, for different reasons, body surfing. I will never ride a roller coaster. Or fly a plane again. And if you had my horde of carpenter ants in your bathroom, you might not be so softhearted.


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