When friends of a certain age get together, a bucket list – things we want to do before we die — can become the center of conversation.
There are fun and exciting things to do in far and exotic places that are probably completely out of reach due to lack of money, energy and testicular fortitude. Zip-lining through a rain forest and para-gliding over a stretch of the Gobi Desert (is that even a thing?) are waaay too intense for this geezer and most of his About Men Radio friends.
No, the bucket list I have is a lot simpler and cheaper.
I’ve written before about doing my part to expose my kids to the classics – no, not literature or art.
My classics are the movies that I have quoted many times — those great movies (at least I remember them as great) — from yesteryear.
These are movies that I grew up with, some old black-and-whites as well as some from the late 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s. These are movies that are too old to be on my kids’ millennial radars.
In our house we have movie night and I would exclaim, “It’s a Dad’s pick movie night!”
And the groans would go up from my clan. My wife would groan because it may be a movie I dragged her to when we were dating that she probably (definitely) hated.
So, how was I going to expose my kids to the long list of classics I know they will enjoy, or tolerate, if they just gave it a chance?
That’s when I came up with the Bucket List. Actually it’s more of a list that is cut up into pieces and placed inside a bucket.
That’s right. I have a small bucket next to our TV that has scraps of paper in it, with the titles of many classic movies my kids have yet to see.
So, here is how this works: The bucket is filled with titles. About 85 percent of them are ones I put in there such as “The Great Escape,” “The French Connection” and “Taps.”
It’s an eclectic list of great and not-so-great flicks.
On a night that the whole group is home (my daughter is 21 and my two boys are 18 and 16, so getting them all together is challenging) I will call out, “Bucket List Night” and wait for the groans to subside.
We randomly pick a movie from the bucket. To have any chance of getting them to agree to this, I let my kids select a few of their favorite titles to include in the bucket.
One of them reaches in and pulls out a title and I read it out loud.
The most powerful one in our group — my wife — gets to employ a single veto. If she is unhappy with the selected title she can veto the choice. But the following selection MUST be watched!
The vetoed title goes back in the bucket and if it is selected again in the future, it cannot be vetoed a second time.
We have strict parliamentarian rules. After all, we are not savages.
Another rule I gave into: No horror movie titles. Arghh! That cut me hard like a mutated cornfield dweller’s machete!
Once a title survives the veto, it gets watched. And here is where my soft heart bends a little: If at 60 minutes, the movie hasn’t captivated everyone, we can terminate it. (Insert a poor imitation of Arnold here.)
We have watched a few of my favorites — along with some snark from my kids — but overall we enjoyed watching “Adventures in Babysitting,” “The Lost Boys,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Truman Show,” “The Green Mile” and “Midnight Run.”
My kids have had luck on their side as they had only a few titles in the bucket, yet they were rewarded with back-to-back selections they made.
It was my turn to groan but I endured because sooner or later they will have to watch “Rambo: First Blood,” “Spies Like Us” and “Commando” with me.