Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Been There. Done That

One of these days, I may skydive from a Cruise missile or backpack up to Machu Picchu in time for a llama brochette at the Indio Feliz. I may swim the English Channel with a killer whale and make sweet love to a panda in a Peking zoo while sipping a cocktail made of Irish rum, crushed fire ants and tiger milk. There are hundreds of things that I might add to my bucket list one day, but, with God and you as my witness, I’m finished with the following:
• Artichokes. I gave them a good-faith effort. I tried them marinated, grilled, steamed, chicken fried, and I never liked them. I’m tired of pretending that I do.
• Weird pizza. I once had a cashew pizza. Didn’t like it. Clam pizza. Hated it. Duck egg pizza. No thanks. I suppose it goes without saying that I didn’t care for artichoke pizza, even with the Alfredo sauce. Pizza should contain one or more of the following: Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, red onion, green pepper and black olives, all of which are distributed evenly atop a smear of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on a Neopolitan-style, grease-soaked, white flour crust. Anything beyond that isn’t pizza. It’s modern art.
• Modern Art. In 2002, I attended a retrospective of American modern art, 1950-2000 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. It was dreadful. Used vacuum cleaner bags ripped open and tossed onto a gray canvas. Neo-representational this. Post-abstract that. Dribbles. Scribbles. Mostly piffles. At one point, I came across a thermostat on a wall and asked an guide, “Is this pop art or is it a thermostat?” It was a thermostat, she answered. “How can you tell?” I replied, and she gave me a sly grin. I suspect she too knew the exhibit was — with one or two glaring exceptions — proto-vacuous crap.
• Banana Republic. I once loved the place and would shop there again if today's over-priced merchandise weren't targeted toward bald gay retro Italian-American hipsters. Otherwise, I’d have to lose 30 pounds and dye my hair black and skulk around like Fredo Corleone.
• Fishing. The last time my dad took me fishing, an agitated water moccasin tried to climb into our dingy flat-bottom aluminum boat, and while my dad was whacking at it with a paddle, the boat drifted into a bush containing a wasp nest the size of Rush Limbaugh’s ass, and I was stung like 40 times. I haven't been fishing since, which I see as a blessing. Compared to Fredo, I’d say I got off pretty easy.
• Nicole Kidman. She was so gorgeous. Now, she resembles a grass carp. At least, she remains as thin as Sarah Palin’s resume.
• Diets. I’d love to lose 30 pounds, but I’m done with dieting. They work if you’re willing to be miserable and smell like kimchi for a week or two. If diets don’t work for Oprah, what hope can I have that they’ll work for me?
• The Dallas Cowboys. I grew up 100 miles east of Dallas, wept bitterly when the Cowboys lost the 1971 Super Bowl to Baltimore, and despise George Allen and Buddy Ryan to this day. But I’ve lost all hope that they’ll ever amount to anything larger than a gargantuan chicken wing, beer and T-shirt vendor. For all I care, Jerry can pack up the whole damn mess and move it to Las Vegas.
• Las Vegas. I’m too cheap to gamble or pay to watch topless young women prance around with exotic birds and floral arrangements on their heads, not that I’d be looking at the flowers or the feathers. Besides, Vegas is ridiculously hot most of the year and clogged with leathery old people playing nickel slots and pushing around oxygen tanks. There’s only one place I detest more, and that’s…
• Disney World. Amid the fake trees and fake cheerfulness and 200 percent humidity, morbidly obese rednecks in neon orange Mickey Mouse tank-tops suck on 128-ounce Cherry Cokes and curse and scream at their cross-eyed kids to eat their turkey legs or pay attention to the talking duck, or “goddamnit, stop groping animatronic Hanna Montana.” Thank God these people left their pit bulls at home.
• Pets. Except for a few goldfish I keep around to control the mosquito population, I’m down to my last pet, Woody, the 17-year-old yellow tabby, named after Woody Harrelson, the star of “Natural Born Killers,” which I’d watched shortly before casually stopping to examine the stray kittens at the ASPCA booth in Highland Mall. Woody (the cat) latched onto me, and we’ve been a couple since. He’s old and cranky and noisy now and has arthritis, and last fall, I spent a thousand dollars to remove an oral abscission that the vet feared might be cancer but seems so far not to be. I hope Woody lives another 17 years, but once he’s gone, that’s it. No more pets, though I’ll at least miss Woody. I won’t miss any of the following:
• London. Far more expensive than New York and not nearly as interesting.
• Snow skiing. It’s cold. Unless you know what you’re doing, you look dumb.
• Long hair. It’s hot. Unless you know what you’re doing, you look dumb.
• Golf. It's frustrating. Unless you know what you're doing, you curse a lot.
• Mowing, unless Texas turns into Arizona, and we're just dumb enough to try to.
• Couples’ counseling so long as there’s booze.
• Vodka, unless there’s nothing else in the house. That would include Irish rum, crushed fire ants and tiger milk.