I’m writing a book right now, about two star-crossed lovers who struggle to overcome cultural differences and make a life together. You see, he belongs to a gang that swears by the acting chops of Judi Dench. Her family has ties to a rival gang, To Helen Back, young toughs who brook no argument over Helen Mirren’s theatrical pedigree. Think of it as a cross between West Side Story and I drank way too much Natty Boh at my computer last night.
So maybe I’ll write another book. But what? There’s no shortage of “Before You Die” books. You know, Ten Places To Visit Before You Die, Ten Restaurants To Experience Before You Die, Ten Golf Courses To Play Before You Die. I have no issue with the “Before You Die” part, although it seems a bit superfluous. Outside of Goth hotspots like Tampa, will anyone buy Vineyards You Must Tour After You’ve Taken The Dirt Nap? And to be honest, I’d feel a little weird being an overnight guest in a house with too many of these books lying around. In fact, I’d probably sleep with one eye open.
My problem isn’t with the genre per se, and my discomfort is only slight, like when you’re driving to church and Black Sabbath comes on the radio. My problem is with the banal conclusions they draw. I mean come on, is there anything new under the sun? Machu Picchu, The French Laundry, Bandon Dunes, we get it. And yeah, you got me, I’m a little bitter at these reminders of a better life out there that’s passing me by. Sure, back in the day I’d say hopeful things to my wife, like “oh yeah, honey, we’ll definitely do that someday.” But now I’m like “so, m’lady is too good for Western Sizzlin’, is she?”
I think what the world wants right now is a book that recommends things to do that we have a puncher’s chance of doing before we join the choir invisible. Such as:
Invest in a jungle-quality gorilla suit. I began thinking about this in college, and my brother and I each nearly made the purchase. Fear of getting shot won the day and we never did it, although our joint eulogy – they went out in gorilla suits, doing what they loved – would have been memorable. The idea was this: find some college sophomore who’d had a few too many down on the corner, sidle up to him on his drunken stumble home and ask “is this what you intend to do with your life?” My role was to come in guns hot with the deeper philosophical questions, while my brother would mostly jump around and do strange things with his hips. To know our victim would wake up the next day and think “those gorillas seemed so lifelike. And sensible. One, anyway.”? Priceless. I see now that with a tuxedoand a gorilla suit in your closet, there is no dull Saturday night. This is totally happening.
Turn at least one business suit into NBA fly-away warmers. This one’s interesting because I’m not exactly sure why I need this, I just know that I need this. Sure, on the one hand it seems designed to position you perfectly for whenever the proverbial moment is right. But on the other hand, what is your beloved to think of you when at the moment of truth, your slacks fly off like you’re the sixth man coming off the bench for quality minutes? So I need to think through the premeditation issue. Assuming success there, I’ve got a good tailor who’s discreet, having recently done codpiece work on my bike shorts. I’ll give him a ring.
Bring back rec specs. I can’t think of a more old-school way to say “thanks, but no thanks” to the breakneck pace of innovation in the gym – gynovation – which I might trademark, although some obstetrics group might already own it. Headbands and wristbands, too? Sure, why not. And yes, I’ve heard of contact lenses – they’re not for me. I also know that laser surgery can give me nearly perfect vision. But I’m not risking the peepers over vanity. Not enough upside. When they can throw something extra into the mix like heat-vision, maybe I’ll reconsider. Until then, when I walk in a gym I want everyone thinking “there goes White James Worthy” instead of “check out Flannery O’Connor on the StairMaster.” Rec specs, baby. I’m hitting LensCrafters today.
Well, that’s where the book is heading. I hope you’ve enjoyed these amuse-bouches. Of course, if you know what that word means there’s a good chance you’ve been to The French Laundry, in which case you’re already dead to me.