With each humor column, I’m simply out to solicit a smile or two, a nodding of the head and even an occasional belly laugh. Not convulsions. Indeed, laughter isn’t always the best medicine. Fun fact: Many people have actually died while laughing.
And who’s in a hurry to die? Not I, not I. Hell’s bells, I want to live until someone is finally born laughing, thank you very much. Heck, while we’re at it, put that wish on my bucket list.
Other baby boomers entertain dare-devil ambitions. Be my guest. I’ll stick to safe aspirations. Or will I? The most dangerous goal I’ve ever concocted was in the essay in which I listed my ultimate death wish — to be shot to death by a jealous husband at age 106.
And I solemnly promise that, if God grants that gift, I won’t ask for another thing. Ever.
In the meantime, I want to please the one person who I know for sure will show up at my funeral — myself.
Here’s another item on my bucket list: It’s something I absolutely MUST accomplish: I want to be in a quartet that includes Streisand, Midler and Cher. If anyone out there happens to know their contact info, please share. But there’s no hurry.
I’m certainly not alone in my lust for a lasting, laughing life. Many others have avowed their desire for the Grim Reaper to drag her feet for decades before she finally bestows them with the Big Dirt Nap.
One of the women at our senior center lamented her inability at mastering certain culinary triumphs. She’s already rich and famous and begged to remain nameless herein. Let’s call her Liza.
“But you’ve accomplished enormous feats throughout your life. And you’re equally admired by both men and women,” I pointed out.
“I don’t care,” she all but wailed. “Sometimes I think I would give it all up for being known as someone who can make perfect freaking jello.”
“Huh?” THAT’S what reigns as high on your bucket list?” Not climbing Mount Everest at age 97?”
Liza told me that I needed to fathom how it feels to flop for 50 years at a task that even many children could master.
I explained that we’re all abased by our inability to perform certain trivial tasks. I recalled a column by Erma Bombeck during which she confessed defeat in her ability to succeed at the very item Liza and I were discussing — to make edible jello.
“If memory serves me correctly, Erma finally gave up and claimed that she solved the problem by simply serving jello as a beverage,” I said.
“Sure she did,” Liza said. “But she was Erma Bombeck. A domestic goddess à la Martha Stewart. I’ll bet her guests guzzled it down with delight. If I served jello as a beverage, some wisenheimer would swear it was sewer water. I tell you I simply can’t master it. I think I have jellophobia.”
Liza finally leaked the light at the end of her tunnel: “I’ll have to live to be 100 to pull it off. You know, with perfection.”
Ah ha! What a sneaky bucket item. Turns out that Liza’s entire list parallels that of mine — we aspire to goals that will take decades to accomplish. If ever.
Yup, the closer I approach age 106, the more I consider moving my swan song wish to 116. I want my legacy to be that of an old fool who had the inability to design realistic goals, but stubbornly kept striving to “reach the unreachable star” anyway. I hope to be nicknamed “Don Quixote Jr.”
Legacy-shmegacy. When an interviewer asked Woody Allen what he wanted people to say about him a hundred years from now, Allen answered: “I’d like them to say ‘what a spry old boy that one IS.’”
Woody added that he’s not interested in becoming immortalized through his art, but becoming immortalized by not dying.
Another goal on my bucket list is simply to survive until cockroaches become extinct.
So, here I stand, sit and/or lie, torn between being shot to death by a jealous husband at triple-digit longevity or living lively until cockroaches become extinct.
Whichever comes last.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. When asked to take over a theater column at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, he began a career as a journalist. This led to numerous publications including theater and book reviews, profiles and Steve’s favorite genre, humor writing. Look for his new blog ESKEWPADES coming soon.