Last Bucket Shopping

There are several kinds of lists.

Once upon a time, for instance, there were shopping lists. Often created on the backside of grocery store receipts, where they would find coincidentally sustainable re-use, shopping lists enumerated needed and desired groceries and served as reminders for shoppers as to why they were where they were.

We no longer use such things. Instead, we call (telephone) someone. Issuing such penetrating questions as: “Whole, two percent or one percent milk?”

Sidebar: Does “whole” milk cost as much as “one percent”? And if so, why? Shouldn’t the “one percent” be a fraction of the cost of whole?

By the time we reach the next aisle, we make another call. The questions are nearly as fascinating as their answers. Not to mention endless.

Bucket lists, on the other hand, are “wish” lists and aspirational desires. All the stuff we want to do, see, or experience . . . before we “kick the bucket.”

On its face, a measure of forward-looking optimism. Beneath the make-up, grim melancholy.

Hollywood memorialized the expression in a movie. Jack Nicholson played Jack Nicholson, as usual; a wise-cracking guy with a plastic face capable of expressing a rainbow’s worth of sardonic looks that he’s been practicing since first appearing on movie screens in cheap-o exploitation films directed by Roger Corman and released through American International Pictures.

His counterpoint, played by Morgan Freeman, who like Nicholson seems to be playing himself, is the avuncular dude brimming with (wise) optimism but destined to die. It’s the sledgehammer method for telegraphing irony.

But a third list, one only rarely voiced out loud, is the “Last List.” As in: This is the last course I’ll ever teach. Or: This is the last new car I’ll ever buy.

Again, on its face something grim and pessimistic. Or not.

If, in fact, it is the last new car to ever be purchased, shouldn’t this one be the really great, really cool, incredibly attractive and comfortable car? Forget practicality and those endless trips to the grocery store. This is the F-U-N car!

And if, in fact, it is the last class to be taught, isn’t that the inspiration to make it a really, really good one? Informative. Engaging. Thought-provoking. All those cool attributes that are so easily tossed about and never enacted?

Let that be the last word.

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