101 is a ludicrous number. Ha. Don't be stupid. Pick one bloody good thing and be done with it.
Over two decades ago, when I was 18, I had an aborted sexual encounter with a Perth university student on a lawnmower in a shed. We were both afternoon-barbecue-drunk, she on cheap Cinzano and I on Hahn Ice, which was then $20 a case and still too dear.
The shed was made of corrugated iron and apathy, and smelled strongly of grass clippings and two-stroke. It was darker than a Russian cellar and also very cold, although not chilly enough to walnut my scrotum.
Too bad really, because we were having a great time until I snagged it painfully on the Victa’s old-school thumb-activated clutch lever, then fell into some tins.
It was the sort of very romantic encounter you’d expect to find in a Mills & Boon novel, if Mills & Boon novels were really written by Boonie, or British WWI hand grenade manufacturer William Mills.
And so, not least because she didn’t get pregnant, I forgot about it.
Then, in the late 2000s, I was working at a men’s lifestyle magazine, doing what magazine workers mostly did, which was see what free PR graft arrived in the post. When, what’s this?
Among the week’s dozen fresh Andy McNabb novels and ghastly experimental rum-and-loganberry-juice premixes was a weighty book.
Its silly promise: 101 Places to have sex before you die.
“Ho ho!” I thought. “I bet it doesn’t have ‘on a lawnmower’!”
But it did. As well as ‘in a shed’. And ‘on a motorbike’, ‘In a tree’ and ‘Stuck at the top of a Ferris wheel.’ Because 101 places is a lot of places, and it’s a lot more for a lazy author to dream up on deadline.
“What a stupid book,” I thought.
“As if Leonardo DiCaprio gets sick of shagging new Victoria’s Secret models in king-sized beds.”
It was the high-point of the banal bucket list book, a genre invented by the Mecca tourism board in 2000 BC.
A surprising amount of these woeful books are sex-related – calendars with a new position for each day; an illustrated 369 Sexy Dares To Do Before You Die; a hardcover 1001 Sexcapades To Do If You Dare – but most aren’t.
Most are even less intriguing – 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See. 1001 Books You Must Read. 1001 Movies. 1001 Wines You Must Taste. 50 Places To Fly Fish. To Scuba Dive. On and on.
They’re all ludicrously prescriptive, rammed with filler, and smugly presumptive. “You MUST!” Says who? F__k off. There’s nothing you need to do before you die.
What of the other death, however: the ceremonial killing of Unencumbered You?
What if, having not snagged your gentleman’s jewels and fallen headlong into a tower of surplus Dulux during the act, you’ve achieved conception?
Then, the clock is really ticking.
And post-fatherhood, unlike post-death, you’ll still be around, able to mull missed chances.
Pick one thing and pick well
There’s just a brief window – after she’s with-child, before it gets too close to D-Day. Time for not much. Not 1001 arbitrary achievements, anyway.
Use it wisely. Use it for just one thing.
Your partner is expecting, so some items will be off the table – Asian sex tours, off-the-grid Somali hitchhiking jaunts, motorcycle acrobatics; these opportunities have passed. Sorry. Babymoons are also a terrible idea – at least in the final months.
But a solo boys’ trip, like a free man about to go to jail for a five-year stretch? These are brilliant – if you can leverage circumstances to manage a leave pass. I did.
“I don’t want to spend five grand going to a f__king resort where you go surfing all day and I can’t even drink a f__king cocktail,” said my beloved. “I look like a whale. You can go on a babymoon on your own for all I care.”
So I did.
Yours may take more convincing, but you if you don’t ask, your don’t get. Tell her it’s a final hurrah – whatever, and you’ll make it up to her in foot rubs and other ways…
But the second trimester. That’s your window.
I like surf trips. You can do whatever you want – an attitude which is the key to enjoying reminiscing when you’re in your post-baby, regret-lined life.
Whatever you do, make it memorable
Back in 2012, an unflappable 22-year-old Perth girl called Erin Langworthy launched herself from a bridge over the Zambezi River.
Langworthy’s pal, Rebecca, caught the action on her iPhone as the cord snapped, plunging Erin 111 metres into the rapids below, which were “crocodile infested”. (Do crocodiles really swim in rapids?)
“That was my first and most likely my last time,” Erin told America’s ABC News, giggling. “I don’t think they expected the cord to break!”
“Would you do it again?” asked the anchorwoman, twice. Rebecca grimaced.
“Well… uh,” grinned Erin, sheepishly. “I don’t think Bec’s too happy with me. But, maybe, some time…” And she laughed.
She meant yes! It was there in her face: yes! Bruised, lungs scarred, black and blue like a licorice Smurf – of course she’d go again!
Probably not because she hadn’t technically bungee jumped – you pay for the springy rope part, not the gravity – and definitely not because she was a bucket list completist. Just because: F__k yes!
Erin Langworthy, plucky little Aussie champ, should have been 2013 Australian Of The Year.
Not because she, womb unbothered, itinerary free, was ticking off items from a frantic pre-natal to-do list. There’s no 1001 list with “Snap a bungee cord in Africa and be badly beaten underwater” in it. If Erin had one in her pocket, I hope it floated off and choked a crocodile.
Grim-faced box-ticking isn’t the key to Erin’s brilliance. It’s attitude. Hillary climbed Everest “because it’s there”, not “because it’s #362 on a list”. Life’s supposed to be a laugh.
Aged 22 and child-free, Erin Langworthy was bang up for it. Aged whatever-you-are, that attitude will sustain you through any number of sprogs, and any number of big, life changing plunges. Rope or none, you, like she, will bounce back.*
*In the off chance (ever so tiny, like your penis in a cold Perth shed) you don’t ‘bounce back’ – you will want a solid life insurance policy. Because, (bonus thing to do before you dad) the default kind tacked onto your Super is typically pretty piss weak – and duh, you have a baby on the way. You can’t be totally irresponsible.