I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel as I turned thirty. Some will say that thirty is the new twenty, and others will act like they are over-the-hill already. The former are known as optimists, and the latter as women. I didn’t feel any different on June 9th than I did on June 8th. I didn’t blow out any candles on a cake until a few days later, so part of me thought this would be the Zoltar Speaks moment of transformation I was waiting for. It was not.
While this didn’t feel much different than any other recent birthday, hitting a milestone age gave me a reason to reflect back on my accomplishments and experiences in life. I’m not a man who regrets much in his life as all my experiences add up and shape who I am, and I like who I am. Nonetheless, I’ve though up some things that I could potentially alter if possible, as well as a discussion of things I thought would have happened for me by now, but have not.
A standard list of ten won’t do. To match my age, I’ve opted for an exhausting thirty. As this tips the scale with 10,000-plus words, I won’t blame you if you skim through it.
1) Going to the Prom
Strangely enough, this was the first thing I thought up when this list, though I wouldn’t say it’s affected me much in the long term. “What’s wrong with the prom?”, you might be thinking. I went alone. I was too awkward with women at the time, so I never asked anyone to be my date. It’s as simple as that.
It actually sounds much worse than it was. Overall, I’m neutral about my whole experience. I think I had a pretty nice time, had a nice meal, and looked as nice as I could given my budget, all-purpose suit to be used at future weddings and funerals. I don’t think I was sad watching couples dance or anything as I was probably too busy goofing around with some friends. Heck, I even got a pity dance or two. Yay!
My main beef was in the end-of-the-semester yearbook. For some reason, I posed for a professional photo at prom (usually reserved for couples) because I was a sheep following the flock, and just about everybody got in the photo line. This picture of me and my lonesome was published smack dab in the middle of the prom layout of the yearbook along with dozens of photos of smiling couples. It stands out like a sore thumb, and I can imagine those that have a copy of the yearbook pausing on this photo and wondering what ever became of this dateless loner. Did he ever find love, or did he settle for that pleasure bot he doodled on a napkin that one day in homeroom?
I’ve wondered what I’d do if a girlfriend of mine would find this yearbook and the offending photo. Do I destroy the evidence, hoping that she’ll never learn of this? Nah!!! I’ll leave it next to my bed in hopes of elevating things a few notches above pity dance. I’m not a proud man.
2) Why All The Video Games?
This problem would be a lot easier to fix if I didn’t keep running into $5 game sales.
I can probably count on my fingers the number of video games that I have defeated. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (The Video Game), Altered Beast, Crash Bandicoot: Warped, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2….. There has to be others, but you can probably get the total counting with Homer Simpson’s fingers.
The point is that video games eat up a serious amount of time. It’s not as if the ones that I listed are the only ones that I’ve played. I’m sure that total exceeds well over 200. I’ll assume that it is 200, and I’ll put another conservative estimate that I’ve spent on average 4 hours playing each of them. Couldn’t I do more with that 800-plus hours? To add more to this under-estimated figure, what if I factored in back-seat gaming, watching friends accumulate blisters on their thumbs while I demand they stop moving their arms so excessively when making Mario jump?
If there is an afterlife, I’d hope that I can get a statistical printout from St. Peter (or, preferably, some Moneyball-type guy that dies before me) breaking down various aspects of my life. The above figure is surely undercutting my reality substantially. I can assure you that, seeing the final time tally, hours wasted playing video games would eclipse a depressing amount of activities. Partying, studying (this coming from a pretty good student), sex (excluding thinking about it), charity work, etc.
It’s not too late for me. I can call it quits right this second, but like much of my formal education, I am convinced that there must be some real life application to this. You all can thank me when I settle a hostage situation by disarming the terrorists with an impressive display of NBA Jam wizardry.
I only bring this up because these two things seem to go hand in hand. It is a prerequisite for lists of this nature. I do this with reluctance because suggesting you haven’t discovered yourself unless you travel is like saying you can’t be smart unless you have a university degree or you haven’t truly heard music unless you’ve heard insert-album-here. It’s not entirely accurate, and comes off a bit pretentious.
I have nothing against travelling. I have a few destinations in mind that I wouldn’t mind jumping on a plane to go see. The idea that you haven’t really lived unless you travel abroad is what bothers me. My family didn’t have too much money coming in, so we would only go on the odd road trip within our home province of Ontario. I do not feel that I was robbed of anything.
That being said, maybe I shouldn’t have let my finances keep me grounded, and exercised a little creativity. When the money isn’t there, why not have a look in my own backyard? If I could harness the same level of imagination that I had as a child, I could at least make my stay-cations more lively. If it were socially acceptable, I’d hang out with kids on a regular basis. I need to pick their brains about this.
Do you remember building forts as a kid out of big cardboard appliance boxes? I imagine that we will arrive on something similar by constructing some sort of cardboard airplane. Since I’m an adult and will need room for myself and passengers, we’d need to bank on a few of their parents buying refrigerators (mine works just fine, and I’m cautious with credit card expenditures).
Each yard is like a whole new country waiting to be explored. I can view it as not only a learning experience, but a teaching experience by encouraging kids do proper research so they can strive for accuracy. However, as kid’s decorating skills leave something to be desired, I might need to be intoxicated to buy into believing that Billy’s backyard is Japan. It’s at the moment I drunkenly berate him for trying to pass off a broken hula hoop as a sumo wrestling ring that I’ll probably realize I’m the very reason that playing with strange children is considered socially unacceptable.
4) Study Something “Fun” at college
For the record, I have no regrets about my post-secondary education. Sure, I cringe when I see my bank account shrink by a few hundred dollars a month from student loan deductions, but I don’t regret my schooling. I spent parts of six years centering my academic pursuits around various electronics courses and other courses of an engineering/technical nature. Useful stuff, but where’s the fun?
I think I had fun at school. I didn’t have time to party as much as I wanted, but I enjoyed the community among my classmates in spite of the lack of female classmates. I don’t think that co-ed education would have done anything to improve my grades, but it would be a way to add a touch of party atmosphere to the classroom that Electromagnetic Theory was severely lacking.
I don’t think just one course would cut it. I could have taken an elective course in university to expand my horizons in an irrelevant manner. Pretty much anything can become a class provided there are enough people willing to pay for it. Sleep Appreciation. Automotive Design By Hanna-Barbara. Forestry: A Feminist Perspective. And then there’s ones I didn’t make up. But that’s just a few hours of my time a week over the course of a semester.
I’m thinking a one year program or at least something substantial enough so I get a piece of paper to hang on my wall to let everybody know how I wasted my money. If you accumulate all my wasted time, I’m sure it could add up to about a year that I wouldn’t mind reusing.
5) Be More Assertive When Job Networking
Ever attend a job fair? I can’t be the only person who can smell the desperation in the air. There’s a reason for that. Job seekers have a distinct odour about them. It comes from a combination of the hastily-consumed pizza breakfast that lingers on their breath, nervous perspiration, and moth balls in the breast of their suit jacket. Given their undesirable position on the unemployment line, it’s easy to forgive them for forgetting to at least mask it all under some Old Spice.
Here’s the main thing that turns me off about networking: It’s the publicly acceptable way of kissing ass. You don’t approach people of importance at companies just to find out a company is “cool” and then leave it at that. You want a job, you want a paycheck, and you’ll pretend whoever you are talking to is the most interesting person in the world assuming they will provide you with both those things. I realize I probably hurt my career prospects by avoiding certain networking practices, but a part of me feels dirty whenever I attempt them.
From all I’ve read, networking basically amounts to stalking entire companies. The advice below lists common tactics often suggested to job hunters. Take note of the use of the word company. It can easily be switched out for the word girl. Stop me once it starts getting creepy.
- Check the internet. The initial groundwork spent doing research online is important for establishing a relationship with the company of your choice.
- Get in contact with the people who are most important to the company. Know them, know the company. Ask about anything from big picture items like mission statements and growth potential to the finer details like insurance benefits and what she smells like.
- Run an overnight stakeout with hi-res binoculars in hopes that the company sleeps naked.
6) Invent Something
The one sure way to achieve immortality is to create something that leaves a lasting impact on the earth. There’s something romantic about designating yourself as an inventor. I can see myself right now wearing old-timey duds, Bunsen burners ablaze for no particular reason, going crazy with sketches on drafting paper, and furiously writing and erasing math formulas on a chalkboard. Any combination of Greek letters with exponents and division signs would be enough to make me look genius enough (heck, throw in an emoticon or two in to see who’s paying attention), but I want a product I can hold in my hands, not a theorem that I’d be schooled mercilessly by academic types for daring to challenge them.
It has also got to move units. I want Ron Popeil to become so discouraged he stops dying his hair, Vince Offer to go into hiding to never Schticky another soul, and the ghost of Billy Mays to haunt my family for generations out of pure envy. The retail price is not important. If I’ve learned anything from infomercials, the payments have to be easy. Ease of payment is all relative, so I’ll put any prospective buyer in touch with a financial adviser or an employment agency. The product doesn’t even have to make life simpler. You just need to show enough footage of people not being able to perform regular, mundane tasks until your average Joe believes that no knife in their house is fit to spread butter.
How do I get in on the ground floor of such a lucrative industry? I’ll start by thinking of ways to improve a typical day at home, and start by fixing those problems. Just this past Sunday, I forgot to set my alarm clock, and slept in later than I planned. Solution? An alarm to remind me to set my alarm – The PreReminder 3000. I had to get ready for my workout routine that afternoon, but I was lacking a bit of motivation. Solution? Shame-Away, a pre-workout DVD customized to poke fun at your pudginess until your ready to prove the doubters wrong. I then had to finally go to bed to rest for the following day’s work, but I wasn’t tired. Solution? Drugs. I should just deal drugs.
7) Start a Youtube channel
As if there aren’t enough of them, I’ve thought about (but never got around to) starting my own Youtube channel. I mostly use Youtube as a way of discovering musicians or comedians, so I mostly check out channels that violate copyrights by hosting unauthorized content. I do not wish to run that type of channel.
I also do not want to run a channel dedicated to video game “Let’s Play” content, unboxings, or reaction videos. I’d treat it like my blog. I’ll have no regular pattern of releasing content, and share what interests me without concerning myself with what other people want.
What exactly it is that I decide to upload is not immediately important now. I will keep promotion to a minimum to make my channel the hidden gem of viral video production. I’ll only share it on Facebook so that my pathetically low modest 73 friends get the inside scoop. If the viewership stats are anything like this blog, the Youtube channel will be so underground that Doozers wouldn’t notice it when building their little structures. Not even if they had proper fitting helmets.
Does the fact I make a Fraggle Rock reference show my lack of imagination? I need more references for things that operate underground. I thought about saying that it would be the reason Bugs Bunny couldn’t make that left turn at Albuquerque, but that goes against what I’m trying to say. It would be insignificant. Nobody would watch it.
I’m not bitter at all.
8) Be President of Something
I’ll settle for vice-president. The only pseudo-organized club I’ve been part of was the student council of my elementary school when I was in grade eight. My title was Public Relations. I remember this because I got a plaque at the end of the year with this printed on it, but it was a completely meaningless title. Was the student council president too busy stuffing her bra to handle talking to the constant stream of press that swarmed the school halls on a daily basis?
Why couldn’t I achieve this before turning thirty? I’ve battled with self-esteem issues for a large portion of my life. This would not make the ability to handle criticism in a high-power position very easy and it would make public speaking difficult, throwing Freudian slips into every third sentence. I’ve become much better at it as I’ve aged because, simply, I’ve stopped caring. Not in a “I Don’t Want to Live” kind of way, more in the egotistical “Shut Up! I’m Right, You’re Wrong! That’s Why I’m Up Here, And You’re Down There.” way. Any good leader has to resent everyone beneath them to a certain degree.
Telling people I’m the President of Keeping It Real only results in annoyed chuckles, so I need something of substance to reign over. President doesn’t even have to be part of the title. I just want to be in a position to accept bribes. There have got to be positions in municipal government that I can run for with little to no competition. I could challenge a senior in such a position who has had their role for 50 years with little threat of losing their title. Not ready to take on a young upstart, they lose the vote in a landslide, losing the very thing that gave them a purpose.
Being the last name someone curses as they breathe their last breath? That’s power.
9) Become an Uncle
No news on this one to report. You can’t blame me for lack of trying. I did nothing to discredit my brother or sisters to potential partners or prevent any of them from pursuing a long-term relationship with the person of their choosing. With my non-interference, I am without fault as I see it.
Way to drop the ball on this one, siblings! You had a free babysitter at the ready, and spoiled my chance at getting practice dad reps out of the way early on. Now I will have to resort to other means of preparation like giving needless advice on Facebook photos of friends’ babies. I don’t have direct contact with a child, so I count on them to pass along my pearls of wisdom.
Being in some sort of mentoring program like Big Brothers could fulfill that role, but time could be a problem for me. I’d have to start off as a substitute Big Brother. If Brother scored a hot date at the last second, I’ll be right there to take care of it. As long as a Leafs or Raptors game isn’t on that night. Or the Blue Jays. Or the Argos. And I hope Netflix doesn’t shut down.
Can I be in, like, a Big Cousin program or something? I’ll see you during the holidays, but since we don’t have the rapport brought about through frequent visiting, I don’t need to put much thought into a present. Remembering your name and guessing your age within two years is really all you should expect.
10) Attempt a Crazy Stunt
Another sure way to immortality is, ironically, to risk your mortality by defying it in a needlessly stupid fashion. Several people technically do this through chain smoking or by finding a way to put bacon into their mouth every time it opens, but those habits can get too comfortable. To be a stuntman, you can’t afford to be comfortable. I think Evel Knievel was quoted as saying that right after paying a medical bill.
It’s technically not too late to be a daredevil, but I doubt that I will have the bounce-back ability body-wise that I would as a younger man. I feel that this is something that one should be aching to do from a young age. You have to be the type of kid that isn’t afraid to get dirty and to play without fear. That isn’t even close to describing the Dan of two decades past. I think I still cried over scraped knees when I was thirteen. I’d dread to splash about in puddles in fear of the laundry my mother would be stuck with. She told me that nothing gets mud out, and I believed her.
This is not an obsession that one starts in their thirties. If I’m up on a ledge, I should be talked off it. If I hop aboard a motorcycle, direct me to the nearest DriveTest center for proper instruction and licensing. And if I crash through a glass window while lit on fire and blindfolded, then my attempt at Daredevil cosplay has horribly backfired.
I was recently very close to achieving this goal. Early this year, I almost settled for a stint in a no-holds-barred backyard wrestling match. I pulled out at the last minute because I kept second-guessing my stage name.
11) Lacking a Nickname That Sticks
I fear that if it hasn’t happened yet, it never will. Fortunately, not all hope is lost. My father picked up the unique nickname “The Poison Dwarf” as a middle-aged man by his coworkers. Realizing that this may be a shot at both his height and a potential flatulence problem, I’ll try to stay patient while being fortunate that a bad one doesn’t linger.
My alliterative first and last names have led to some rather generic ones, among them “D-Squared” (still wondering what D times D equals) and “Double-D” (a damning epithet for chubbier times). My first name has led to “Dan The Man”, “Danimal”, and “Dan-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-an-an… Batman!!!”. These types often come too easy. Except for the Batman one, which I just made up.
As much as I’d love an ironic nickname like Stan “The Boy” Taylor or Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, I think a nickname should need to be earned like those of athletes Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Pete Rose’s “Charlie Hustle”, or Allen “Practice Makes Perfect” Iverson.
Nicknames should also not be something that one anoints upon themselves, but I’ve got a few suggestions nonetheless.
“Spear” – Short for spearmint, my preferred post-lunch breath freshener. It’s not the only gum I’ll chew. Hubba Bubba is alright, but I don’t have the curves to pull that one off.
“The Machine” – It’s not for my favourite character in WMAC Masters, but for my lack of consumption of coffee during the work day. Coffee has always been a beverage I’ve enjoyed with a large breakfast or a casual stop at a coffee shop. I enjoy the taste, but do not rely on it for energy. My co-workers sometimes rag me on it as if I think I’m better than them and their precious coffee, yet on their sixth cup of the day, they still complain about how tired they are. I’d like this nickname because it’s very open-ended. It’s rare to find one that insinuates that you are both great in the sack and yet also boring and predictable in the sack.
“Red” – No, this isn’t an ironic nickname. This one is usually reserved for redheads or gingers, the latter of which I pray to deities I don’t even believe in to express some gratitude for my avoidance of such a curse. You see, I suffer from nosebleeds. They may only occur a few times a year, but from eyewitness accounts, they are quite the sight to behold. If that doesn’t cut it for you, perhaps my fondness of red licorice and communist facial hair will.
It’s all up to you, though. You may not know me, but throw me a nickname, and I won’t hesitate to structure my lifestyle in order to live up to it.
12) Learn to Cook Sooner
I’ve been doing lots of cooking ever since moving into my apartment over three years ago, but I wish I was further ahead in my abilities by starting at a young age.
For anybody that has yet to give cooking an honest chance, don’t resign yourself to a lifetime of Swanson’s TV dinners just yet. Cooking is ridiculously easy. Creating dishes by yourself, not so much, but cooking in general can be done by just about anyone.
Have you ever even looked at a recipe book? Most recipes are one page in length or shorter. If that’s a bit overwhelming for you, use a straight-edged ruler to guide your eyes so you don’t skip one of the eight steps. If it’s still too much to handle, and I don’t want to come across as insensitive, but learn how to read.
Don’t let your manly pride get in the way and start guesstimating the recipe like in many a Three Stooges short. Don’t take a haphazard approach to cooking by throwing away the instructions like you would when building a child’s toy. Be wary of the choking hazard, which is at a much higher risk when preparing something actually intended to put in our mouths. Over-spicing a dish can kill more than just your breath.
I’m doing fine now, but where do I think I would be if I started cooking, say, ten years earlier? What’s the best I could have honestly hoped for? To be driven to tears by Gordon Ramsay in front of millions of viewers for slightly under-cooking the linguine? If I wanted needless abuse that badly, I’d hire a dominatrix to judge my cooking. She may not have too refined a palette, but it would make for a good after-dinner story.
13) Get A Tattoo
The main thing that has kept from getting a tattoo is my indecisiveness. Lots of people get their first one as a teenager, but if I made that choice, you’d might see Fred Durst staring at you from my right shoulder blade. I do not want my future grave to become a time capsule for my regrettable obsessions. I’m sure I have an old Myspace profile floating around that will do that job well enough.
Those in the pro-tattoo camp might say, “Don’t worry, Dan, it’s just your body!”. That same line of thinking has driven once proud, active bodies to riding around in scooters, and leads some men to think a dozen hairs makes for an acceptable moustache. Why dismiss such a big decision so easily? These same people would spaz out if I shaved their hair into a mohawk as they slept. At least hair (usually) grows back. Let me take pride in my paleness. Not in a white power way, but at least I’m willing to admit that immersing my skin in tribal art isn’t going to magically make me ethnic.
One common defense of tattoos is that it is they’re a medium for artistic expression. Sure, I get that. So, did you do it yourself? Well, I designed it. No, did you do it yourself? Don’t bother answering. I saw your preliminary sketch in the waste-bin. That ain’t your handiwork. Contortion is a key part of the game here. If you can reach it, you can ink it, and then all credit goes to you, a true artist. Take all the credit when the tattoo turns out great, but when it isn’t quite to your liking, you write a 5000 word criticism of the establishment on Google, demanding they be shut down and that the appropriate staff member be charged for bodily assault. You can’t have it both ways.
Once I get it in my head to be tattooed, I foresee a problem. I leave the tattoo parlour, my back still aching from a fresh tramp-stamp of Wilson from Home Improvement, and who else but Mark Messier is standing outside. Lay’s potato chip bag in hand, and his arms covered in sleeves of ink. “Bet you can’t get just one.” He’s got me there! I can’t turn that challenge down. Not with that stare of his. I go overboard, come back out looking ready for my Ripley’s Believe It Or Not photo opp, and Messier’s laughing his ass off.
Nice, Mess. That’s nice. You’ve turned me off two of my greatest loves in life, hockey and potatoes. Not only that, now I can never trust a bald man ever again. So, dad, if I stop returning your calls, know that it is only due to intimidation caused by a highly implausible scenario.
14) Get To Know My Liquor
I don’t mean that in a Jim Lahey sense. I’m not a guy who drinks a whole lot. I never really was that guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll drink heavy at a party if I’m long overdue for a public embarrassment, but I never viewed drinking as an Olympic event. When I drink, it’s usually just one beer at the pub or a splash of rum at home. I don’t buy into building up a tolerance, though a few stiff drinks can make me more tolerant of unwanted party guests.
Lately, whenever I go to the LCBO, I look at the scotch or the whiskey and try to buy a bottle that I’ve never tried before. The problem right now is that I don’t think I’ve developed a strong preference for a particular brand. I think I’m a little better when it comes to beers, but that beverage doesn’t sit as well in my stomach as liquor.
There are all sorts of ways to describe the taste of various alcohols, and it seems rather interesting to me. I can agree with their descriptions and terms because they come from a real place. This isn’t like going to an art gallery and trying to upstage a fellow admirer by trying to get into the artist’s head, questioning whether that brushstroke comes from a deeper pain or did they try painting with their opposite hand for a few minutes.
I don’t want a wine cellar, and I don’t need my own personal bar. I just want to have more to say about a drink than “Mmmmm!” or “I should stick with this one. It doesn’t give me a hangover.”
15) Crash A High School Party
This wouldn’t be such a big deal coming from a fellow high schooler. I should have crashed a high school party as a 29-year old. I would not do this with any bad intentions. It would not be to try to score with young girls with loose morals (which, by being the creeper at the party myself, would be saying a lot), and I would not be supplying the party with booze or drugs. I’d just want to attempt to blend in naturally like 21 Jump Street.
I doubt it would work despite the fact I think I look young for my age. I needed to do this to have my bubble burst earlier on. I’d like to overhear kids whisper “Whose dad is that?” or “Who invited the old guy?”. I would have liked to face ageing acceptance before the calendar tells it to me, being singled out in alarming fashion mirroring the ending of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
What would I do once I get in there? Drink? No. This party needs a responsible adult. Maybe I could DJ. However, I have a few no-nos for the playlist. No dubstep, no country, and no heavily auto-tuned pop music. It’ll also have to be a BYOM(usic) party because my music collection lacks much of what the young folk are into these days. That would also involve me having to tell this to the kids in advanced, so it wouldn’t be so much of a crash. It also all but assures the cool ones won’t turn up.
That’s a risk I don’t want to take. I hope the kids still like Savage Garden.
16) Hustle a Guy
I’m not sure what my approach would be, but I’m very good at faking weakness and I have an honest face.
Where are the typical places to hustle? A pool hall or a bowling alley. I can get the first part right by leading a prospective opponent into believing I suck. It’s the second part that gets me. The winning. I think asking to put the gutter guards up and for a 100 point head start would be overdoing it.
Is it possible to hustle a guy in trivia? Bomb easy questions intentionally (I thought you said what isn’t the capital of Ontario), then proceed to show him in how much time I waste reading Wikipedia pages about albums that were certified platinum in Denmark.
I’ll strive to be a rough around the edges Ken Jennings. I’ll dress like I’ve never read a book in my life. In other words, I’ll stick with my jeans and graphic t-shirts. Or I can dress exactly like Ken Jennings. In other words, dress as if the only book I’ve read in my life was The Holy Bible.
I’ve intentionally flubbed trivia questions around people just so they don’t pass judgement on my social life. Yes, I do lack an active social life, but what’s it to you? And yes, I’ve bailed out of social engagements claiming I’m a stand-in contestant for Blockbusters even though the show was cancelled two years after my birth. When it finally gets a reboot, I can always buy those friends back.
In all seriousness, I want this skill to finally pay off. I invested good time in not just collecting, but actually reading the backs of my sports cards. What did you do with all your 1991-92 Score Hockey cards? Put them in a safe? That’s a shame! Time may have rendered them worthless for you, but I expect my knowledge of the 1991 Expansion Draft will yield a small fortune.
17) Balance Two Dates at Once
Rather over-ambitious of me to wish to get this one accomplished. It involves not just having one woman agree to go out with me, but two women, and on the very same night. If you hired a statistician to crunch the likelihood of these events lining up, their head would explode Scanners style. I am not a frequent dater, so to improve my odds, I’d have to pick random women that I have zero interest in seeing after this evening. The positive is that it would take the pressure off getting caught, but I need that pressure. It makes for better entertainment for the studio audience that exists in my imagination.
It might not be a difficult task at a movie theatre with the cover of darkness to assist me, but where’s the sport in that? That’s for cowards. I’ll make two dinner dates at the same restaurant. The tables won’t be adjacent, but I will position myself so that I can see the other table at all times. It will let me know if one of my dates bails, picks at the food on my plate, or stockpiles the silverware into her purse. This is my night, honey! I won’t let you ruin it by having the two of us banned for life.
I will eat two meals that night. Don’t dare think that I won’t do it. It would only be ludicrous to do so if I ordered the exact same meal twice. There is a high probability that the evening wouldn’t end well anyway, so to spend the rest of the evening hovering over the bowl in agony wouldn’t be much trouble. In fact, depending on the severity of my suffering, it might help me forget that I publicly embarrassed two women that would be much sweeter human beings than I am.
My last ditch attempt to save face if I’m caught? A lie! I’ll play it off as an homage to Robin Williams and the brilliant climax in Mrs. Doubtfire. The second one of them asked why I didn’t dress up as an old lady or try to give one of them the Heimlich maneuver, I’d smartly reply that we needed to save a little something for the rest of the evening, then obnoxiously wink at whichever one of them seemed the least creeped out.
18) Wear a Pair of Leather Pants
Cut me some slack! It’s a long list, so I was bound to pad it up somewhere. This has always been a clothing decision, for men in particular, that has always boggled my mind.
There is just so much about it that leaves me curious. Is it a similar sensation to sitting on a leather seat in shorts on a hot day? Is there a layer of material on the inside that prevents the leather from sticking you your skin, or is that a part of the thrill I’m missing out on?
Thankfully, this seems to be more fashionable on an ageing rock star than it would a young man, so time is on my side for this one. First, I need to finally get that garage band onto the stage, gain a few years of relevance, fade into obscurity for twenty years, then reunite only to find out that our fan base aged worse than we did.
On second thought, I’ve yet to wear tights either. That could work, as it is also equally disturbing for both the wearer and the spectator. I’d like to ask Steve Harris where he bought his. Oh, and I forgot about jean shorts! I should have separated these into different points.
19) Audition For a Professional Sports Team
It starts looking pathetic to cling to professional athlete ambitions when you hit the north side of thirty. I’ll let it slide if your name is Will Ferrell.
Locally, I would have pegged my most realistic shots of making a team out of training camp with one of two franchises: the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League) or the Toronto Rock (National Lacrosse League). This is not a shot at either team or their respective league. I just think the chances of an open audition process would be greater within these leagues than they would the NHL, NBA, or MLB.
To be honest, I know I’d have a zero percent shot at playing on either team things being the way they are now. I don’t consider my height as much of a hindrance to play either sport (I’m 5’5”), but at 140-ish pounds, I lack at least 30 lbs of muscle to prevent me from being crumpled like a discarded beer can when an opponent does as little as breathe on me. That being said, I’m a red-blooded heterosexual male, so a part of me would want to try out just for the attention of the cheerleaders that wouldn’t give me the time of day in high school (all tying back to the prom thing now).
My newly crippled body lying motionless on the playing surface, I’m sent home as I don’t clear the first round of cuts. Looking sad and helpless in my bloodied, over-sized sports gear, one of the cheerleaders finds it in her heart to give me her number.
911? How adorable! So nervous to meet me she forgot the rest of it.
20) Give Someone A Makeover
Who’s to say that this isn’t something a straight man can strive for? Who among us with an older sister hasn’t once gone through the humiliation of being dressed up as the sister they desperately wanted (you could have stopped once actually did get one)? It’s only natural to want to give back, but, dammit, I want to do it for the right reason.
I’d approach it from two angles. I want to both “cool-up” a guy, and “nerd-down” a girl. I think this would be appropriate for both sides to get attention from the opposite sex.
The recipe is so simple in both cases. With the guy, I’d lob off his long locks he thinks makes him look like Jared Leto when he looks more like Lemmy From Motorhead, get him on some kind of fitness program, and then take him to chivalry school. She’ll be eating off his hairless six-pack in no time, and he’ll politely thank her for not leaving a mess.
For the girl, force-feed her a healthy diet of comic books and action movies, spice up the wardrobe with t-shirts containing obscure pop-culture references, and get her some thick rimmed glasses even if she doesn’t need them. If she wants a man with personality, this is the right way to get his attention. It’s sort of like the opposite of that Rachael Leigh Cook movie, but if you look like Rachael Fucking Leigh Cook why would you need my help?
Afterwards, I’d attempt to set both of them up on dates, but things start to get a bit weird. I end up doing so good a job, creating such perfect beings, that I fall deeply in love with both of them.
Did somebody say Polygamous Bi-sexual? Little did I know I’d be the one who gets the makeover! Sweet Lady Irony’s got her hooks in me yet again.
21) Get Into Doctor Who
Anyone who lists missing out on a cult sci-fi TV show as one of his life regrets is clearly a man with his priorities straight. I’m just one man. World peace is out of my grasp. I’ll do my part to set the world right, but let me catch up on some cult classics in the meanwhile.
I’ve only caught it in glimpses, and the decades that the series has spanned has made it overwhelming just to figure out where to begin. I like to write in my spare time, so I’ll use it as inspiration for my fan fiction where I play the Thirteenth Doctor. I love writing fan-fic involving shows where I’ve seen little of the source material. That’s how innovation takes place in the entertainment industry. I’m having a bit of writer’s block on my Charles In Charge movie idea, so this project would give me something else to focus on for the time being.
All I know know is that he often dresses like a hipster, hangs around cute girls, and still manages to find a use for a phone booth after they’ve long gone irrelevant. All of the above could just as easily been obtained without even watching a proper episode. I should expand on this deep well of knowledge by doing a balanced, proper crash course in the Who (not The Who, with whom I’m very familiar with already). I’ll watch one episode starring each Doctor. Considering that there are have been twelve different Doctors during the run of the show, I’d say that’s marginally better than the bare minimum. I’ve never been one to colour within the lines (except for in kindergarten, where my crayon discipline earned me a scratch-and-sniff cotton candy sticker), so I’ll probably just J.J. Abrams the shit out of it and pretty much start from scratch.
Seriously though, if anybody can recommend the best Doctor Who era to start watching, I’m all ears.
22) Write a Book
Note that I didn’t say novel. Not everyone has a novel in them. It could be a how-to manual, a Coles Notes to a book you lack the skill to write yourself, portions of an encyclopaedia, propaganda literature. Pretty much wherever your keyboard takes you. Novels sets the bar too high, even though I’ve heard the phrase “everyone has a novel in them” thrown around.
Would writing a children’s book be considered writing a proper book, or is that kind of cheating? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Dr. Seuss and Robert Munsch as much as the next developmentally-delayed adult, but what’s in a children’s book? 500 words? They cram more words into the fine print of a Cialis commercial. I’d say it’s fair if you also doubled as the illustrator. That’s where I’d fall short. My mom holds on to lots of my childhood mementos. My artwork, not as much. The only potential she saw in my art was in it’s potential to waste paper. She’d write my name on each individual marker and pencil crayon not so my classmates could return them to me. By lending them out, it was the only way she thought my name could be associated with good art. I kid, of course. She’d hang my work on the fridge, but since we only had one magnet, it would be off the moment she found Dairy Queen coupons in the mail.
While a novel is highly ambitious, I’ll be willing to sell my life story for the right price if there are and interested biographers out there. I’m not a greedy man, so I’ll warn you off the bat that I didn’t have much going on in my life between the ages of 25 and 27. We might have to flesh out that section by borrowing from other biographies I’ve read. I know that Hulk Hogan is also a bass player, so I’m sure that’s enough grounds to pass some of his life off as mine no problem. We’ll just throw in a pic of me leg dropping The Ultimate Warrior to fend off the doubters.
23) Have a Rival / Arch-Nemesis
Excluding the natural sibling rivalries that occurred during childhood, I was never wrapped up in any sort of long lasting feuds. I’d like to think it’s because I’m a pretty good guy, but if certain people heard how I talked about them behind their backs, that could all change in a heartbeat.
Being perpetually angry at individuals who have wronged me in relatively minor ways seems like a waste of energy. Still, this is a void that I’d want filled. I should post an online classified ad.
Have you ever watched a Roadrunner / Wile E. Coyote cartoon or read a Spy vs Spy comic and thought “Why do they get to have all the fun”? You’re not alone.
To state it simply, I’m in a rut. My days seem so routine. Wake up, shower, nine to five job, get home, sleep, repeat. Slip a bit of food in there, the occasional social function, and catching up on Coronation Street, and that’s me in a nutshell. I need an obstacle. I need an enemy. I need a worthy opponent. I need you. Be my bad guy, and I’ll be yours.
Sorry, ladies, but I’m looking for a man. There will always loom the possibility that our actions will result in fisticuffs. The last, and only, time I raised my hand in violence to a female was when I got between a mother grizzly and her cub. Needless to say, it was a lesson well learned.
I realize you may not be up for the job because you do not know who I am. How can you possibly despise a man who has caused you no harm to date? Okay, then, you’ve twisted my arm. Need some motivation to hate me? I have it on good word that your birth was unplanned. Your parents only kept you for the potential tax benefits and they thought it unfair to unload the burden of their shattered dreams and aspirations onto the cat. Making your blood boil yet? I’ve got more harsh revelations than that, but I’ll leave the paternal lineage of your first-born out of this for now.
I’d make a reasonable foe. None of my schemes will result in direct harm to your genitals. I’m classy like that. I offer no guarantees about collateral damage, so have any visitors wear appropriate lower body protection. I’ll leave it to you to find a way to explain it to them.
Submitting a photo is not a prerequisite, but I would prefer it if you are more handsome than me. It makes it that much easier to despise you. How will you know if that’s the case? Believe in yourself. I admire confidence in a man. If your confidence is often misconstrued as brashness or pretentiousness, which I LOATHE, win-win for me.
Note: This is NOT a paid position. With my resources being invested in developing more pungent stink-bombs and more transparent plastic wrap, there is no additional room in the budget. Besides, having the knowledge that your very existence will be a discomfort within me, much like a pebble in my shoe that I can never shake out, is payment enough.
Interested applicants can reach me at… not so fast! You’d like my contact information, wouldn’t you? Crank calling me at all hours of the night, setting flaming bags of poop on my doorstep, replacing my shaving cream with spray cheese. I almost fell for your little trap. I will not do your homework for you, nor will I continue to list obvious ideas on how to prank me. Besides, I’ve grown used to shaving with unconventional moisturizers, so do your worst.
I will find you.
24) Experiment with Sleep Deprivation
Depriving myself of sleep seems like a young man’s game. I routinely take 30 minute naps when I come home from work. Not once did I pull an all-nighter to cram for big test in university. I have, and will always, appreciate getting proper rest. If I’m going to fail an exam, I’d at least like to have the energy to stare blankly at my page or brainstorm possible majors to switch to.
When would the best time have been for me to have a 48+ hour vacation from slumber? Most likely, it would by during my summer breaks during my university days. Still, just because I can afford to do something doesn’t mean that I should. Heck, I’d love to have a Roomba to do all my cleaning for me, but it would lower my leverage in the pursuit of a career as a stay-at-home husband.
I’m already getting exhausted trying to think of something else to say about sleep deprivation. I’ll grab a few winks, and leave you to enjoy a slightly related Peanuts panel.
Done already? Unless those 1.4 seconds were all I needed, I’m probably still napping. Scroll back up, put your face close to the comic, let your eyes go out of focus, and watch as Charlie Brown transforms into a sailboat. If that happens, you need more sleep than I do. But those magic eye illusions never worked for me, so what do I know?
25) Quit a Job in an Epic Fashion
In the age of social media, this has become almost impossible to do without someone filming it and showing the world. I often see links to videos about such events. I never click to watch them, mind you. They are often preceded with a click-bait of a title that sounds straight from a Mad Libs fill-in. “Disgruntled employee blankety-blank-blank! You won’t believe duh-duh-duh with his boss’ do-do-do!” No, thanks. I’ve had enough of these. It seems like I can’t pop onto the internet for more than five minutes without seeing “11 Daring Ways To Paint Eggs This Easter. No. 6 Changed My Life!!!!” or “This Single-Mom Spent An Entire Week Ignoring Her Children. How Children’s Aid Responds Will Have You Rolling On The Floor!!”
I resist click-bait in the same way I resist commercials with humour in them. I know that a commercial is trying to sell me something, and the critic within me doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of laughter even though they cannot see me. In the rare case I give a commercial as much as a chuckle, I take corrective action and never laugh at it again. I then bow my head in shame until whatever show I was watching comes back on. Leave the comedy to the comedians, and leave the selling to the humourless.
I missed the boat on being a diva while quitting a job. This would be best left for a completely dead end position or for a job I hate. In any case, is that the way I’d want to go out? Job security and establishing myself as a trustworthy employee are at the forefront in my vision of career success. At this point, the best way to quit a job is to have a better job to go to. There’s no need to play the wild-card if I have an ace up my sleeve. Failing that, I’ve got a backup plan involving a paintball gun, a tutu, and an insult-laced parody of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. I ask in advance for any co-workers or passers-by promise to shut off all recording devices when that point arrives. Let’s keep this one an eye-witness exclusive.
26) Get Into Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons and Doctor Who? All I’d need is World Of Warcraft to complete a nerd hat trick, after which everyone throws their retainers onto the ice in celebration.
This task I actually made an attempt to complete. Sometime last year, I purchased an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Starter Kit with visions of being the envy of my friends. I got as far as creating a character, but never even made time to complete the initial solo mission to gain familiarity with game strategy. Let me tell you, though, I had the pride of an expecting mother when I created my character.
His name is Lendai, an anagram of Daniel. I’d pronounce it Len-Die, but wouldn’t shed a tear if a fellow adventurer called me Len-Day. I’d assume the mispronunciation was out of respect, thinking the name over an saying “Fuck it, they both sound awesome” before making their guess of it. He is a halfling, an homage to my love of Spock, a human/vulcan hybrid. Yes, I need to factor Star Trek into most activities to make them enjoyable. Pretending the church band were space hippies on their way to Eden was the only way I could make it through mass as a child without falling asleep. It helped that they wore disgustingly outdated clothing.
Then reality hit: I have no friends who’d want to play this with me. I’d have to make new friends. That’s not my fear. The fear is joining up with an established group of D&Ders and being the guy that slows the game down. I fear they’d always see me as a rookie no matter how many battles we fight alongside one another. That first time would be the roughest. A constant stream of bad Monopoly flashbacks dance through my head as every move I make is met with harsh criticism. A broken man, defeated and down on myself, I arrive home, stare deep into the mirror while I shave my head, put on crooked lipstick, then go cry in the shower in the fetal position.
Hopefully, I’d get more confident as time moves on. When I get comfortable in a group settling, I like to be the ball-buster. The joker. Riding the fine line between prankster and prick. Call me childish if you must, but there’s no more appropriate a venue for unleashing one’s inner child than the back room of a comic book store or in someone’s parent’s basement.
27) Star in a Commercial
I already laid blame at the feet of my sisters and brother, so the time has come to turn on mom and dad. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!??? You had a pair of cute, chubby twin baby boys, and you didn’t even think once about exploiting it for financial gain? We had a year’s head start on those damned Olsen twins. Think about all the Pampers the pair of us would move!
I know, I know, you were looking out for our best interests. You didn’t want to get us in the game too early. As a unit, we were bound to be typecast into roles where we speak in unison, dress the same, or talk in a secret language. If I wanted to get on TV, I’d have to do it solo. There was nothing stopping me from going to commercial auditions other than my crippling fear of rejection. Once I shed that, I’ll be golden. With that accomplished, I’ll have a whole new typecasting problem to deal with. I’ll have to compete with a bunch of other thirty-somethings over the role of the spineless/idiot boyfriend/husband/father.
I have no clue how to actually break into commercials. It seems that I see the same ten actors in every commercial on TV. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, so I’d say that companies may be doing themselves a huge disservice by constantly pulling from the same talent pool. I don’t want to be part of this problem.
I’ll be a one product wonder. As long as it’s a good one, I’m cool with it. I’m not going to waste my only ad on a bitter energy drink I wouldn’t drink if I was dying of thirst or in an alcohol commercial surrounded by nothing but tens. Give me something believable, but give me a catchphrase. Scratch that, I’ll give you one.
“PUT OUT THIS FIYAAAAA!!!”
To clarify, that’s street talk for fire. It can be celebratory in nature or a plea for help. It’s best delivered shouted skyward like a call out to the heavens or to whichever or Captain Planet‘s Planeteers harnessed the power of water.
It’ll be good for just about anything. Tums or Pepto-Bismol would be chomping at the bit for this type of marketability. It could work for a gambling website, exclaimed by a high-roller on a particularly hot streak. A POG revival is long overdue, and what better way to celebrate after a winning slam?
Cast me, and let me share this with the world.
28) Never Having a Nice Suit
Aside from the previously mentioned all-purpose suit from prom, I only acquired one other suit since. It was yet another relatively cheap ensemble I hastily purchased to wear at my Engineering Ring Ceremony and graduation from university. I’ve yet to rock a really kick-ass suit. Maybe one of the James Bond variety is too much to hope for, but James Bond Junior would do.
What’s filling most of my closet space? Band T-shirts. I go to several concerts a year, and will often raid the merch table. Why all the band shirts, though? Personal expression? They essentially function as my cowardly version of a tattoo since I can easily throw one away once the band is bumped out of my rotation.
My work has a fairly casual dress code, so sometimes I throw on a band shirt. What’s the endgame here? Do I think I can turn a co-worker on to Gorguts so easily? That would be nothing short of miraculous. Most of the people I work with think Def Leppard is too heavy.
The only place you can impress with one of these shirts is at another concert, yet I still buy them like they are essential to my identity. Besides, you wouldn’t dare catch me wearing my Faith No More tee to two concerts in a row, would you? The looks I’d get if someone noticed!
I’m viewing hitting thirty as as good a milestone as any to finally fix this error. I’m sick of looking like David Byrne from the Stop Making Sense concert video.
29) Neglecting My Local Library
I like reading, but I hate clutter. That’s the beauty of the public library. I can borrow books from them, and save my bookshelf space for displaying action figures I should have thrown away years ago. I read for both entertainment and for knowledge. I can spend all day reading Wikipedia, and Netflix/Youtube is always loaded with good documentaries, so resources like these often take the place of going to my local library branch.
I usually have a good time at the library. The problem is I seem to wander the aisles for much longer than I anticipated, similar to when I go to a store to buy music. Even though the library is free, I’m super indecisive about what I want to leave with. I’m far from a speed reader, and have several hobbies, so I can never figure out what I’ll be able to read in the allotted time.
The prospect of renewing a book insults me. A book is done when it’s done. Who are they to judge me for not getting around to finish it? It’s not as if I spent every second of the three weeks you gave me reading the thing, dictionary and thesaurus right next to me as every other three-plus syllable word stops me dead in my tracks. Worry less about me and more about the man who’s renewed the same paperback over a stretch of five years. Apparently, this is a more worthwhile use of time than grabbing the same copy of The Da Vinci Code for fifty cents at literally any flea market ever.
I have to start ignoring the negative, and focus on the positive. At least the library lets me be social. I may not be able to talk much, but I’m free to give all the situation-appropriate glances I want. An optimistic smile as a parent guides their child towards their first book. Expressions of disbelief towards the librarian as I spot a landscape design book filed under natural landscapes (It’s not called the Dewey Round-To-The-Nearest-Whole-Number System), and disgusted looks at the man ogling lingerie models on Google Images after being locked out of no less than 18 of his preferred adult sites.
30) Never Owing A Pet
It took me forever to think up this last point, but it seems like a no-brainer. Like most of this list, there has been nothing major that is preventing me from checking this point off the list. The troubling, most-intimidating barrier for me is my lack of pet experience.
I exaggerate slightly here. I grew up with many friends and family members who have shared their joy of pet ownership with me as a curious visitor. Also, I had my goldfish. If you laugh at that point, I’m right there with you. The only positive I can see in retrospective is that you don’t have to worry about them licking their privates when company is over.
I’ve flip-flopped over whether I would want a cat or a dog. I’ve finally decided that I’d be a dog man, and I’ve only had a few sweaty, stinky mutts who temporarily threw me off that scent. It also has to be a real dog, and not one of those teeny, fashion accessory, bats without wings. I don’t want to be kept up at night wondering whether or not my dog is ever going to grow up.
The concerning thing is that dogs can allegedly take on the personalities of their owners. I already share my apartment with my twin brother, so do we really need a third one of us in such cramped quarters? My brother and I already go at each other’s throat enough as it is. Do I need another potential opponent, one that won’t hesitate to hump my leg as a finishing move?
I’ll need dog guidance. Be it a girlfriend or a good pal, someone to steer me in the right direction to help me keep a canine alive and kicking. There are too many concerns I’d have to adjust to that were absent with my pet fish.
Food – I never once had to worry about feeding my fish. As far as we were concerned, once the automatic fish feeder emptied, it was time to buy a new fish.
Habitat – I want my dog to be both an inside and an outside dog. This option did not exist for the goldfish. In fact, by filling the aquarium with a myriad of trinkets (rocks, passageways, scuba divers, treasure chests, severed Barbie heads on spikes), we used what little space our pet had as an extension of our hoarding.
Exercise – I hear that’s important for dogs. My only experience exercising my goldfish was chasing them with the magnetic glass cleaner. I don’t think they appreciated it much because they’d always expel their waste before they’d even break a sweat. I’d kid myself into believing that I was curing them of digestion problems in order to save my soul from eternal damnation.
That’s all I’ve got to say. If you think there are other things I should be regretting, please contribute to the pessimism by letting me know.