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El Paso, 10 AM

92-degrees in the shade of the patio

Me: This morning’s New York Times has an article about this phenomenon of people making life lists, these lists enumerating dozens of goals they wanna accomplish within their lifetime. There are websites dedicated to it, and books. There’s a book called 1,000 Things To Do Before You Die.

Buck: Are you recording this? Is that tape recorder on?

Me: Yeah.

Buck: Who’s gonna hear this? You’re not gonna start podcasting me are you?

Me: Maybe, but not today. That’s a long way off. So no, nobody’s gonna hear this tape. I’m gonna transcribe it and post it on the Internet. Anyway. I was reading about these life lists and I wondered if you have any mental life lists in your head. Y’know, stuff you want to do in your lifetime?

Buck: Will you destroy this tape afterwards?

Me: Yeah, it’s gonna burst into flames like on Mission Impossible. What about these lists? They’re very popular, and I wanna know if you have one. Do you have stuff you wanna do before you die?

Buck: I’ve always wanted to perform brain surgery.

Me: You know you can watch brain surgery online now.

Buck: I don’t like seeing it.

Me: What will you do if you ever get the opportunity to perform one?

Buck: I’ll probably turn away a lot.

Me: I feel like Bennett Serf. (lights cigarette) What else is on this list of yours? You bring up Ireland a lot.

Buck: Yeah. It’s probably the most American European country I could go to and feel comfortable.

Me: So you do want to go there?

Buck: I’d like to go, yeah. It’s high on the list.

Me: What if we get there and you still can’t understand anybody?

Buck: That’s only your problem.

Me: What?!

Buck: It’s always your problem.

Me: So you feel that you will definitely be able to understand the people there and I won’t?

Buck:  Yes. In the same way you say nobody understands you in El Paso. Have you noticed how I always have to interpret for you? I feel like Garrett Morris for you.

Me: (sighs) Jesus. What else is on your mental list, because I know you don’t really make physical lists.

Buck: No, making lists is one of the things I don’t do. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to find it. You know how that works.

Me: Oh, I can find my lists, I just don’t bother to read them. I never look at them again, even if they’re in my pocket. Which is how I came home from the store without coffee yesterday.

Buck: The only time I make lists is when I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s. That way I have a successful trip. There’s nothing worse than coming back and not getting a certain hinge you need, or whatever.

Me: Hey, how come when I make these detailed lists for the grocery store and you sneak off to the grocery store without even telling me you’re leaving the house, you only glance at my list beforehand? You never take my list with you, and then you only bring back items that were not from my list and act like you’ve done me a big favor. You’re all, Oh Wendell, I got you Pepto Bismal, and it’s the real stuff, not the store brand –

Buck: That’s because I don’t approve of your lists. (laughs)

Me: Why?

Buck: Why should I? I don’t have to. Just because you write something down doesn’t mean it’s law.

Me: (sighs with disgust)

Buck: (in falsetto voice meant to be mine) Two boxes Evelyn’s Mint Tea, the boxes are so beautiful, even if I never drink it . . . Chickpeas. I read a recipe for chickpea ice cream somewhere and I really want to make it –

Me: It’s true, I would do something like that.

Buck: And your grocery lists never include what we need, they’re like fantasy shopping lists. They never include toilet paper, or paper towels, soap –

Me: I had coffee on my list yesterday, the list I didn’t look at.

Buck: You shouldn’t even have to put coffee on your list! Because you know you can’t live without it. That’s like a junkie having to make a list to buy heroin. (laughs) Do you think a junkie says, ‘Hmm, I must remember to score some smack. I better write that down so I don’t forget. S-M-A-

Me: (laughs) Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Buck: But I always fill your Christmas list, to a t.

Me: That’s true, you do. And that’s the most important list I make. I don’t hold back on my Christmas list anymore, because I know you’ll fill it no matter how outrageous it is. I used to hold back and put only –

Buck: You never held back.

Me: Whatever. Let’s get back to you. What else is on your life list?

Buck: You’re not gonna let this go, are you. Unlike yours, my list is very shallow. It has stuff like getting an Ohlin shock for my bike. That’s my type of list.

Me: So you’re not really planning ahead, planning the big picture?

Buck: Planning has never worked for me. I abandoned that notion at age 20. At 20 I had a plan, and that got crushed [because of his motorcycle accident]. I heard a cosmic ‘Oh yeah?’ and that was it.

Me: Yeah, I guess that would do it.

Buck: Most of my lists involve taking you somewhere to see what I’ve already seen, like taking you up the California coast, that type of thing. I want to go to Ireland, basically, to see you fight with all the Irish people. (laughs)

Me: That’s true, I probably will be getting into a lot of fights.

Buck: Probably? (laughs)

Me: Well at least I won’t be getting you involved in physical fist fights. I’m not a brawler. I’m not above shoving someone, but I’m not a brawler.

Buck: No, you’re not. But in the same vein, if I have a problem with somebody, which is always valid, you turn into their defender. You become their lawyer.

Me: I do like to play devil’s advocate.

Buck: That’s the understatement of the year.

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