Joseph Stalin and I share the same birth date – Dec. 18.
Besides unknowingly shoring up his credentials for guaranteed nonexchangeable reservations in the hottest blast furnace in hell, what was the old ox-faced ruler up to when he turned 60 years old. Did he have a bucket list?
Not to worry, readers. I don’t have a bucket list to share with you. Instead, based on my life experiences, I would rather share with you my “chuck-it” list: Things I won’t do before I die.
Travel usually ranks high on bucket lists. It’s also high on my chuck-it list.
Call me narrow-minded, but I’ll never step foot on Jamaica again because of bad memories of a trip I took to that tropical tourist trap in 1984.
Traveling to Montego Bay, I thought warm breezes, fruity drinks and the music of Bob Marley would lull me to sedation. Instead, three days later, I had visions of Marlon Brando, in “Apocalypse Now.”
“The horror … the horror.”
Everywhere I turned, somebody seemed intent on selling me drugs, from the taxi driver, to the bellboy to hotel clerks. I was advised to stay away from the streets of Montego Bay at night because they are dangerous.
Couldn’t get a moment’s peace, even as I waded into the Caribbean. An islander approached me with a raft full of pineapples, mangos, grapes and other beautiful fruit, asking if I would like to buy some.
“No thanks,” I said, since I didn’t have my wallet with me.
“Something for the nose?” he asked.
Col. Kurtz was near. I couldn’t see him, but I could feel him.
So I returned to shore, to the safety of my poolside beach chair, wondering if the bartender would sell me something to drink instead of something illegal to smoke.
Jimmy Buffett is right: “Jamaica Mistaka.”
CHUCK IT II: I’ve heard a lot of people say that they want to write a book, especially when they retire. Not me.
Based on the amount of requests I get to publicize a book – for free, of course – I would say that one out of five people in this country are writing a novel, autobiography or short story.
My advice is simple: Don’t. You’ll waste a lot of time and money in the process, trying to get it published.
A children’s book? Here’s a tip: You can’t improve upon Dr. Seuss. And that’s all I wanted to read when I was 5-7 years old.
Over the years at the various newspapers where I worked, I received dozens of books in the mail from writers asking me to review their works or publicize it. Review a book from an unknown author? Shucks, I barely have enough time to get through my email.
I know. That’s callous. But more than likely, when you send us a book unsolicited, we’ll end up chucking it.
CHUCK IT III: My friends rib me for my refusal to text. To me it’s a waste of time and money, especially since email is convenient and easier. My phone rings, too.
Aren’t people doing anything these days besides texting and writing books?
I was at a festival recently when a teenager was walking toward me, her face and fingers buried in her phone, or whatever it was. I stopped, and she nearly ran into me. Texting while walking is dangerous, too.
As far as the knuckleheads who text while driving are concerned, why are the laws so weak?
If a cop has probable cause that a motorist is texting behind the wheel, he should be allowed to seize the phone and chuck it as far as he can.
CHUCK IT IV: Since at this stage of my life, I have more than just a toenail in the grave, I’m been mulling over about what I want done with my remains when I die.
No open casket viewing. I’ve had enough practical jokes played upon me while I’m alive.
I guess, like my father, I prefer to have my ashes scattered over some tranquil sea. Instructions to my survivors: when you toss my ashes, make sure they don’t blow back into somebody’s face.
And please don’t chuck me off the coast of Jamaica.