I don't usually get headaches. So when I woke up at 4 a.m. for the third consecutive day with a splitting pain in the back of my skull, I drew the logical conclusion: terminal brain tumor. The next obvious step in my thinking was to start my "bucket list," (all the things I've never done and would like to do before "kicking the bucket.")
A common item for a lot of people, for whatever reason, is skydiving. But I don't need to do that; I've already leaped off a cliff in Brazil strapped to a hang glider and had the experience of freefall and flight. I only needed to do it once. It doesn't get better than landing on Ipanema. (I knew a girl from there once, tall and tan.)
I've already tried scuba diving. Under the water. Did it.
Been to a lap dancer in a seedy club in San Francisco. Been there. Her name was Angel, and she told me she was pursuing a career in science.
Threw up in the Amazon after ingesting ayahuasca, the popular shamanic psychedelic concoction of the day, so I'm covered on that front.
Nearly froze to death sleeping alone on the top of Mt. Sinai, talking to God all night, who, unlike my therapist, never even gave me so much as an, "Uh-huh. Say more about that." I realized that the Jewish God is a great "listener," which is not really what I look for in a God.
By 4:20 a.m., I still had nothing on my bucket list. Everything I thought of, I'd already tried, and over and over again, I found that having just one experience of most activities in life was sufficient to get the gist. Excluding orgasms, I guess.
I had a three-piece band when I was in seventh grade. Me on guitar, my friend Perry on accordion, and Sam on ... well, Sam didn't actually play anything at that time; he just wanted to be the guy who stood in front and said, "And a one, and a two, and a one, two, three, four!" And he was damn good at it. I got to be that guy as an adult, wearing a tux, snapping my fingers, with the real thing: saxes, trombones, trumpets, rhythm section, the whole works. Once. (P.S. Lyrics to the song Perry, Sam and I wrote: "Come to me yeah yeah 'cause I love you so, Come to me, come to me, come to me," We were way ahead of our time.)
Did the high ropes course. Led the high ropes course, until they fired me for "Failure to reassure boss that you won't accidentally kill anybody."
Hiked to the top of a Himalayan peak in thigh-deep snow. Saw God there. How could I have known when I was at Sinai that God was on a backpacking trip through India? If God had met Moses over there, we'd have no Ten Commandments, He would have just said "Namaste."
Met the Dalai Lama, Sai Baba, Muktananda, Satchidananda, Kriyananda -- the entire Ananda family.
Prayed at Dachhau and meditated for 10 days at Auschwitz. Talk about a vacation. I know how to have a good time.
Swam with dolphins -- who completely ignored me -- watched the whales, got married.
Oh, I just remembered one: I never had children! Jees, how did I forget that one? Is it too late? I'm 58. Shari's 50. We're pretty good about watering our indoor plants, for the most part. We nearly always feed the cats. Can we handle a child? How often do you have to feed them? Are they expensive? How do you explain "Peak Oil" to them, and at what age?
I never had a threesome. Are they any better than twosomes, which I've never been crazy about in the first place? I was once given a birthday present: a massage by five beautiful young women. I discovered that that wasn't nearly as pleasurable as getting massaged by one person. More isn't always better. Nevertheless, if my hand is forced, I'd be willing to try a threesome.
OK, I'm on a roll. Never been a Zen monk in Kyoto, never cycled through New Zealand, never started a business in Pago Pago. (I was once informed by an "astro-cartographer," who superimposed my astrological chart onto a world map, that my "career line" went right through Pago Pago, and that's where I would find true worldly success. And I always thought it was because I've never liked working.)
I always wanted to own a giraffe, but apparently the zoning laws in Richmond, Virginia prohibit large African mammals in the backyard. Still, there must be a way. I once actually inquired at a zoo about the cost of a baby giraffe, and the lady tried to talk me out of it, and did a hard sell on a camel. Said they were much easier to care for. And insisted that giraffes are dangerous, that they could kill you with one swift kick of their hind leg. You never hear much about giraffe-inflicted deaths, but believe me, it goes on.
I never read "War and Peace," but I still don't want to, brain tumor or no brain tumor. Too many Russian names in the first 50 pages. Plus, I'd spend the rest of my life reading.
Already been in a hot-air balloon, on my 40th birthday. Never sailed around the world, and I have been meaning to do that, although I don't know how to sail. Okay, maybe not the whole world. Just across a lake and back. But I wanted to run into the natives in the bush somewhere who never saw a white man. Do they have lakes in the bush? Where exactly is the bush?
(The "Things I Don't Know" is a whole different list; suffice it to say that it includes wondering where they make those big cement dividers you sometimes see on highways. Where would I get one if I needed one? Are there people who spend their entire working lives pouring concrete into giant divider molds in a factory somewhere?)
I've never been the President or Prime Minister of a small nation state. How does one get into that line of work at my age? You probably have to know someone. Are all the countries already accounted for? Is anyone in charge of, say, Uruguay? I never hear anything about the President of Uruguay. Maybe they need my help down there.
I always wanted to be in a movie, preferably an erotic thriller starring Scarlet Johannson. I can act. I played the little kid in MacLeish's "J.B." when I was in seventh grade. He gets run over by a car, off stage, in the first act. But first I got to say, in a scene set at Thanksgiving dinner: "He heard, he heard, he sent us a bird!" I used method.
And I always wanted to be a rock and roll star. I was in a band called "The Rash" in tenth grade; our theme song was "Poison Ivy." I still have my Hagstrom III solid body electric guitar and my Gemini II Ampeg amp. I can play the lead solo from "Louie Louie," who my crazy old friend Billy used to insist was just a nickname, that the original, real song title was "Louis, Louis."
How come on TV when there's a little kid dying, Babe Ruth or someone shows up in the hospital room, or the kid gets to go on a spaceship, but when it's a 58-year-old Jewish guy that just wants to be president of a small country, nobody comes to visit?
Ah well, three Tylenol seemed to do the trick for my headache, so for the moment, I need to put my Bucket List on hold, and get on with the important things of the day: I have to pick up some photos at CVS, shave, return those pants with the faulty zipper, and write a column for HuffPost thinking maybe it will get some random reader to buy my book, (Hint: "The 99th Monkey," here.)