Jun 07

Birthday Beer Bucket List

bucket ladder solarized 5-26-14 copy

So another year has ticked away.

It’s been a good one and I continue to be blessed on so many fronts I have nothing of note worth complaining about. Life is great. Like so many of us, I’m so busy that most days I’m not sure which way is up but my productivity remains solid and I’m doing some of the best work of my life. But there’s definitely some wear and tear on the body and the tread is far from new.

So as the odometer continues to inexorable forward roll, I feel somewhat compelled to take stock. As I’ve pointed out to myself and others many times in the past:

It’s not the year; it’s the mileage.

bucket honey 5-27-14 copy

So off I went, in search of where I’m at and what worlds are left for me to discover. And just as important, which worlds I can happily leave undiscovered. As we’ve all learned, life is about choices and every time you make any decision, you’re automatically saying no to a host of other alternatives.

I was left wondering. How do I develop a set of priorities; that collection of truly important things I want to do before I depart the planet and begin my eternal dirt nap?

Self-conversations like these are fraught with dangers so I sought the comfort of safe, familiar environs and decided to reflect on my dilemma at the pub where I ran into with my good friend, Wilbur. Feeling the need for assistance and support in my trip down memory lane and search for paths future, I sought counsel from my still reasonably coherent and semi-upright confidant. That was my first mistake. (However, if you’re one of those folks who consider self-reflection of this sort misguided and an utter waste of time, I readily acknowledge that you’ll probably decide my including Wilbur, or anyone else for that matter, in the process was actually my second mistake.)

Wilbur’s a self-professed “non-wonderer” not known for his philosophical tendencies or his abilities to concisely synthesize his thoughts. But I caught him early in Happy Hour and, as he listened to me bemoan the fact that there were so many things I considered left undone with an insufficient amount of time left to do them, he drained his beer, flicked his finger at the bartender as he belched for another and said, “Man, you need a list.”

I was left in stunned silence at my friend’s sudden brush with brevity and brilliant clarity. I needed a list.

“You’re right, Wilbur. And not just any list. I need a Bucket List.”

Wilbur merely nodded as he lit a cigarette and started working through his fresh beer.

Immediately I felt encouraged and a surge of adrenaline. “Piece of cake. I’ve got a ton of experience with lists. Shopping lists. Daily to-do lists. Lists about rules, schedules, things to avoid. You name it, I’ve probably had a list for it.”

“Yup. But lists can be tricky. I remember one time when I went in for my annual physical and my doctor was worried about getting sued again.”


“Long story.”

“Is it a good one?”

“All the good stories are long.” Wilbur took a long swallow of beer and swayed briefly in his chair. His clarity and focus approached the horizon. “My doctor has a 39 step procedural list that covers how a rectal exam has to be performed.”

“39 steps? Well, he’s obviously thorough.”

“Yeah, he’s pretty anal about most things.”

“You’re a funny guy, Wilbur. Drink your beer.”

“Want to know what step 39 is?”

“Not really.”

“Remove finger.”

“Either you’re making that up or he had some of the dumbest people on the planet working for him.”

“Swear to God. Step 39: Remove finger.”

I shook my head and sipped my beer.

Wilbur wiped foam out of his moustache before continuing. “That’s the thing about lists. You need to choose wisely, my friend. Or you might find yourself jumping out of an airplane or climbing the Himalayas like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It might look cool in a movie but, trust me, real life is very different.” Wilbur took a long swallow of beer and waved a finger in my general direction. “In real life, you have to make your own popcorn.”

“And remember to remove your finger?”

“Well, sure. If it’s on the list.”

Several beers and two hours later I staggered home and got to work. I scrawled Bucket List at the top of a clean sheet of paper and began meditating on Wilbur’s admonition to choose wisely. Eventually, I jumped in.

1. Start a list.

2. Find a bucket.

3. Fill bucket with beer.

4. Drink bucket of beer to celebrate completing the first three items on my list. (Gee, 5 minutes in and I’ve already crossed 4 items off. This bucket list crap is a piece of cake.)

5. Eat a piece of cake.

6. Wash the cake down with a beer. Cross 2 more off the list. At this rate, I could die tomorrow. (Note to self, either slow down or add some stretch goals.)

7. Publish 25 books. (If I wasn’t spending all this time making lists I’d probably have more time to write.)

8. Watch the Running of the Bulls in person and laugh…but only at the idiots with flesh wounds.

9. Display appropriate expression of concern for the idiots who catch a horn in the wrong place and are carried away on a stretcher.

10. Drink a San Miguel to celebrate the fact that I’m smart enough to not try to outrun a horned 1,500 pound bull that could splatter my insides on Spanish cobblestone.

11. Pee. (Beer tends to go right through me.)

12. Grab a fresh beer on the way back from the bathroom.

13. Publish 20 books. (Quality is so much more important than quantity.)

14. Go zip lining across the top of a Costa Rican jungle.

15. Remember to bring a 6 pack of Imperial along for the ride.

16. Drink at least one of every beer made on the planet.

17. Write a book called The Drunk’s Ultimate Guide to Beers From Around the World.

18. Write down specific instructions for my funeral just in case I get stuck wearing the clothes I’m buried in for eternity.

19. Sneak into the mortuary before my ex-boss’s funeral and dress him up in a sexy little number from Victoria Secret. (See #18)

20. Decide whether these chest pains are real or if they’re only coming on because I’m drunk and writing this list while lying on the floor with a sharp pencil in my shirt pocket.

21. Publish 10 books. (They’re going to be really, really high quality.)

22. Quit drinking, go on a strict diet, begin an intense daily 3 hour training regimen and compete in the Ironman Triathlon.

23. Sober up before adding any more items to this friggin list.

24. Uncover the mystery of why This Bud’s for You instead of me.

25. Finally figure out what women want.

26. Finally figure out how to understand women.

27. Figure out if women really are from Venus.

28. Figure out if Venus is a planet, or the name of a mall.

29. Figure out whether the sharp pain in middle of my back is imaginary or whether my wife has been reading the list over my shoulder. (Hey, I crossed out the last 4 items, didn’t I?)

30. Apologize to wife and promise to drive her to mall in the morning.

31. Publish 6 books. (Hey, I’ve already published 5 and the Beers From Around the World book would complete the set. Piece of cake.)

32. Since I already ate the last piece of cake, finish writing this damn list.

33. Remember to breathe through my nose while chugging the last half of my beer.

34. Head to the bathroom.

35. Pee.

36. Figure out why the hell I’m having such a hard time breathing through my nose.

37. Try to stop the panic attack brought on my highly irregular breathing pattern by checking myself in the bathroom mirror.

38. Breathe a huge sigh of relief at the self-induced nature of my breathing problem.

39. Remove finger.

bucket champagne 5-26-14 copy


  1. Michele

    Happy Birthday B!

  2. Sarah Mallery

    From one Gemini to another: HAPPY B DAY

    LOVE your bucket beer list. Thanks for the laugh first thing in the morning, Bernie!


  3. jim rodgers

    Hi Bernie just found out from Bob Reilly you’re a novelist
    hope all is well

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