I’ll Never Take a Cruise, and Other Vows on My Reverse-Bucket List


Everybody has a Bucket List – a photographer, for instance, may long to take pictures of a wildebeest migration on the Serengeti Plain; a mountain climber may dream of scaling Everest; a golfer may fantasize playing the Old Course at St. Andrew – but a few years ago I came up with the idea of a Reverse-Bucket List.

These are things I’ve promised never to do before I kick the bucket.

It all started when, as a teenager, I good-naturedly berated a buddy of mine for using an electric can opener when a manual device worked just as well if not better, and he retorted, “Yeah, well one day you’ll own one,” to which I responded, “Never!”

I’m happy to report I have kept my word all these decades and have steadfastly relied on the old-fashioned turnkey-cutting wheel contraption that has faithfully served the rest of civilization for nearly 150 years.

I thought about my pledge a few weeks ago when can openers showed up on a list of emergency supplies to assemble when preparing for Hurricane Sandy. I wonder how many people who stockpiled canned goods had to pry them open with a hammer and screwdriver after the power went out.

I’ve previously chronicled my aversion to leaf blowers and other so-called laborsaving devices that actually work less efficiently and are noisy to boot, so I won’t dwell on them here. And I dread the day that my 1998 compact car, which I’ve driven more than 200,000 miles, eventually bites the dust because I’ll probably have to buy a vehicle with automatic door locks and power windows, features I detest that unfortunately come standard with virtually every new automobile.

So I can’t really add those items to my Reverse-Bucket List, since I may not have a choice.

One pledge I can make with some certainty, though, is that barring being Shanghaied, I will never embark on a cruise ship.

Let me first say that I wish no offense to the cruise ship industry, nor do I think less of friends and relatives who have enjoyed sailing to Caribbean islands and other tropical paradises, but off the top of my head I can think of, oh, 147,682 places I’d rather visit, including Devil’s Island, Mogadishu, Somalia, or even Macon, Georgia, before I set foot on anything owned or operated by Carnival or Princess.

It’s not so much the Norwalk virus outbreaks that periodically sends passengers scrambling for the head, or the mal de mer that has them hanging over the rails, or the drunken captains that ever so often runs vessels onto reefs, necessitating rescues at sea, or the nonstop eating and drinking.

It’s more the notion of being trapped, that no matter how exotic and appealing the itinerary the trip winds up feeling like “Voyage of the Damned.”

I know, I know – cruise ships today have climbing walls, surfing and other recreation activities, but I just can’t get past the stereotypical image of predominantly indolent, gluttonous passengers.

Back to motor vehicles, I’ll never own an SUV, dirt bike, ATV, Jet-Ski or snowmobile. I’ll never wear a mink coat, raccoon hat or alligator shoes. I’ve never hunted and gave up fishing decades ago.


Here are a few other items on my list, in no particular order, and for no particular reasons other than my own peculiar tastes and occasional orneriness:

– Run with the bulls in Pamplona.

– Swim with dolphins at Sea World.

– Watch an entire episode of “Friends,” or more than 10 minutes or any PGA tournament.

– Wear anything with a NASCAR, pro football, basketball, baseball or hockey team logo.

– Stand in line outside any store for Black Friday.

– Root for any creature other than those with four legs in incidents involving zookeepers and “good animals that turn bad.”

The best part of having a reverse-bucket list is that, unlike a standard bucket list, in which you cross off goals you have achieved, you can keep adding new items. Instead of saying, as I often do, “so much to do, so little time,” I can say, “so much not to do, so much time.”

Speaking of time, I think I’ll end this here so I can take the four-wheeler out in the woods and practice my target shooting – not.




Reader Comments


Beware The Deadly Deer

Every season presents the potential for paradise or peril.

Autumn Berries: A Succulent Reward During A Long Bike Ride

While biking through the hills and along the shore of Mystic and Stonington the other day with my friend Spyros "Spy" Barres and son Tom, I began to regret that I neglected to bring along a water bottle.

The Rites – And Wrongs – Of Autumn

It’s finally happened: I’ve grown so accustomed to the roar of the leaf blower that I now longer recoil and curse at the first sonic blast of fall, but simply shake my head and sigh.

Privacy/Preservation: The Roads Not Taken At Fishers Island And Other Enclaves

Imagine strolling to the tip of one of Connecticut’s most magnificent natural habitats, Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in Groton, and instead of gazing at tidal marshes, salt ponds and sweeping, unspoiled view of Fishers Island Sound,...

Part II: Serenity, Solitude And Soggy Socks In The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

When we last left Tom and Steve, they were paddling through muck and mire (though mostly sparkling water) in northeastern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here is the second and final installment describing...

Serenity, Solitude And Soggy Socks In The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Gusty blasts that shook our tent during the night blew away thick clouds and rain showers, bringing morning sunshine that sparkled on Cherokee Lake when my son Tom and I crawled from sleeping bags last week.

The Continental Divide Trail: 'Overall It's Amazing, But You Have To Be OK With Getting Lost'

After tramping more than a month some 700 miles along the fabled Continental Divide Trail, Mystic native Hilary Sueoka and her boyfriend, Dan Stedman, who started hiking April 22 at the U.S.-Mexican border, finally rambled from the...

The Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon: Racing Is The Easy Part.

By the time Phil Warner and I hit the water in his lightning-fast tandem kayak last Sunday for our team’s leg in the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Lenox, Mass., we had already spent a good part of the morning lugging gear...

There’s No Accounting For Taste When It Comes To Favorite Mountains, Or Tacos

En route to a hiking expedition in Nepal’s Himalayas a number of years ago, my wife and I took a detour to India and spent a day bouncing along on a bus from New Delhi to Agra to tour the Taj Mahal.

Mount McKinley Renamed Denali: Better Than Mount Reagan

Three cheers for the Obama Administration’s decision this week to officially restore the name of North America’s tallest mountain to Denali, which is what early inhabitants called the 20,310-foot peak in the Alaska Range.