Most people have some idea of the things they want to do before they die. Having not sought treatment for my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms I have put these “things to do before I die” into an ordered list, and, just to ease any further anxiety, I have made it a nice whole number of 100. This is not an original idea. Indeed, there is a book of that name filled with quirky, adrenalin-inducing feats to attempt - like bungee jumping off a mountain or swimming with sharks. I have made my own, less ambitious, list. And to be honest most of the time I have forgotten about 75 of these special events I want to attempt. But recently one of the authors of that book, Dave Freeman, died after hitting his head in a fall at his home, aged just 47. This was a wake up call to revisit The List.
Most of the “must do” events require careful forward planning and more time than I have available. When am I going to walk what is accessible of the Great Wall of China? Will I ever commune with the iguanas in the Galapagos or climb over the temple ruins of Ankar Wat? When will I have at least three weeks in contemplative silence to complete the Camino de Santiago? (Yes, I can stop talking that long…)
Purely for research purposes I have scanned the net to find out what other people have on their lists. Okay, okay, I am checking if my list is as good as one from Mr. or Ms. Jones. Some ambitions I can ignore – like the guy (at least I think it’s a guy) who included at number nineteen on his list, “grow a beard and leave it for at least a month”. And I never want to “sit on a jury” for the experience. Imagine getting stuck with some tedious fraud case that goes on and on and on and on.
There are also some ambitions whose sell-by dates have passed forever. I will never, as one person lists at number forty-three, “learn to play a musical instrument with some degree of skill”. I’m also not even bothering to learn how to calculate VAT or adequately handle a Jehovah’s Witness. And sometimes one man’s ambition is another man's everyday occurrence. So when someone listed at number fifty-five the desire to “make a complete and utter fool of yourself for one day” I just thought them timid. My project is to make it through one day on this rock without making a complete and utter fool of myself.
High on my list is the desire to put on a costume and dance through the streets of Port-of-Spain in Trinidad’s carnival at least once before I die. To be a part of that revelry, or “wuking up”, to use the Bajan term, with the promise of complete release from the everyday, is very appealing. This activity is not on The Husband’s “to do” list. Indeed, it is arguably on his List Of Things To Be Avoided At All Cost. I suggested that if he is a bit shy about his wuking up skills he could follow the example of one foreign visitor at Crop Over who employed a “wukologist” to help him find his groove. From the way The Husband rolled his eyes, and muttered something about “nasty Hobbit” under his breath, I don’t think a wukologist is going to be a line item in the family budget anytime soon.
In order to be part of the throng of thousands of half drunk masqueraders in February 2009, I have to join a band now and pick a costume. The last time I witnessed mas properly was several decades ago when the creative genius of Peter Minshall ruled. Costumes were a thing of wonder rather than a beads and bikini combo made in China. One year Minshall brought out a band called, I think, The River with all white costumes on day one. On day two of carnival the revelers splashed each other with coloured paint turning the costumes into a vibrant mess of colour. My man Minshall was stirring up environmental awareness long before Al Gore even thought the subject worthy of attention.
I have my pal Indu researching a costume that, as she puts it, “has cloth in it”. Her skinny arse will be just about covered by the beads and bikini. When I pointed out a costume for her that had feathers tucked into the bikini bottoms she looked at me in disgust.
“What kind of woman do you take me for? I would never wear feathers there.”
This is getting complex. So it’s okay for beads to drape over her Brazilian-waxed nether regions. But, if you have feathers falling down there, you’re a whore. I am lost in a world of signs and signification I don’t understand with the added insult that the unreadable signs are from my fellow countrymen.
The Husband has noticed my "list anxiety" getting worse since Freeman's death.
“Maybe” he suggested, “you don’t need to do everything on your list. Maybe getting older is about letting go of having to achieve anything.”
I told him to !%#* off. There's no way he's getting out of babysitting during Carnival with that convenient, philosophical ruse.