The majority of guys will have kids at some point in their lives. Any father can tell you how rewarding it is to have a child and how it’s a unique and powerful bond between two people. But in that same breath, the guy will also tell you how much money and time kids take up and how there are times when they wish they could get a fraction of it back. For those of us without kids, we’re going to be proactive. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff we want to do before having kids and we’re going to start chucking money and time at it all. Here’s your before kids bucket list.
Learn a Martial Art
Most martial arts are great ways to learn about your physical limits, and they’ll usually give you some greater measure of control over your body and mind. You’ll feel better, be healthier, have more confidence, make some friends, and have an ancient way to vent some stress. There’s some debate about how well martial arts will prepare you for a real world fight, but real world fighting isn’t why you should be taking them in the first place. Learning a martial art also takes a great deal of time, so it’s best to start while you still have some of that.
Get in a Fight
This one might need some clarification, and might seem a bit hypocritical coming right after that first entry. We’re not saying go to the bar this weekend and start a fight. Then you’re just an asshole. If you can go your whole life without being involved in fisticuffs, there’s nothing wrong with you. So let’s modify a bit to say that you shouldn’t be afraid of a fight, if it’s for a good cause and looks like it’ll shake out fairly and without disproportionate violence from either side. If someone comes to your neighborhood haunt and starts hitting on your significant other and your SO asks for some help, don’t be afraid to get involved. If someone’s walking around talking down your community and can’t (or won’t) be reasoned with, you might be justified in getting a little physical. Certain things are worth fighting for, as was nobly put forth by Samwise Gamgee, and if something you deem worthy is being insulted, stand up for it.
Invest in Something You Believe In
Everybody always talks about how important it is to invest. That’s all the financial advice we ever get. Invest, invest, invest. Find a sure thing and throw some money at it. What people never talk about is how powerful investment actually is. If you look at it only as a way to expand your personal wealth, you’re ignoring the most important part of the act. Investment is a way for you to tangibly support a company you believe in, which is a far more philosophical motivation than most accountants or financial advisers are going to give you. But that doesn’t make it bad advise. Being personally invested (in what might be the most literal sense of the word) in a company or cause you believe in makes you far more likely to pay close attention and take smaller actions that help your larger actions. It’ll also show you exactly what you value when it comes time to set an example for your children.
Buy Something Incredibly Dumb and Impulsive
Impulsive shopping before children is far less dangerous. You have way more money to play around with, so you can absorb the costs easier than you would if there were other human lives dependent on your income for survival. Take advantage of your economic surplus by buying something expensive, ostentatious, and ridiculous at least once. Maybe you’ve always wanted to redo your car’s interior with genuine red leather. Maybe you’ve drawn up plans for a full on recording studio in your basement. Maybe you heard about a new smartphone from China that’ll do your taxes and cook you breakfast at the same time. If you need inspiration, walk through whatever replaced Sharper Image at your local mall. Whatever it is, buy it. Buy it right now. Spend tons of money. It’ll be fun.
Stay in Bed All Day (Can’t Be a Sick Day)
Plenty of people, with and without kids, have spent whole days in bed. The difference between this recommendation and that bedridden day is sickness, when “bedridden” is the correct word for how you feel. What we’re talking about is spending your entire day in your pajamas, feet up, watching Netflix, reading, gaming, and napping. Order a pizza or two, too. Rumor has it, some delivery people have no problem doing bedside deliveries. Granted, their recipients were hungover, which qualifies as a sickness and therefore doesn’t meet our standards here, but the principle of the thing is intact. You’ll feel completely recharged or like a lazy sack of shit. Either way, you’ve learned a valuable lesson about your priorities in life.
Cause a Mild Public Disturbance
Obviously this isn’t a ringing endorsement for joining and/or causing a riot. But being a mild public nuisance is a well-established human behavior. Think Roman civilians getting drunk throwing things at tigers at the Coliseum, Ben Franklin’s life in general, or Philly fans hating Santa’s guts for inexplicable reasons. Just maybe not as illegal or dickish as that last one and definitely with less bloodshed than the first. The best way to think of it might be to disrupt the peace instead of disturb the peace. Disturbing the peace usually ends up with someone in jail. Disrupting the peace might get the cops called, but not so much so anyone’s going to be arrested. The only real advice or suggestion we have for actually implementing this is to make it authentic. Whatever you do has to be true to you, otherwise you’re just inconveniencing everyone without any sort of redemption to the act.
Have a Multi-Day Gaming (or Movie) Marathon
A decent number of you game, be it avidly or casually, while even more of you watch movies constantly. At least one weekend, you should take that to the extreme. Line up a dozen or so games or movies and just go. Veg out. Guiltlessly play and watch until you pass out. Ignore your friends. Only text your family to let them know you’re still alive.
We’re saying this mostly because we know adulthood causes a backup in your gaming and movie catalog. You’ll pick up a few titles on a Steam sale or you’ll build up a Netflix queue but never get around to it. Jobs and relationships tend to get in the way of more sedentary hobbies, but those sedentary hobbies are no less valuable. Pick a weekend and indulge.
Collect a Lot of Something
Pop culture is full of ridicule for guys who’ve made it a hobby, job, or passion to collect things. Case in point, The 40 Year Old Virgin treats Andy’s nerdy collection as an example of dangerous immaturity. That’s not the only example either. There are plenty of movies and TV shows that make it seem like forfeiting a collection you started in adolescence is a huge moment of growth and not forcing someone into giving up a major part of themselves. Put it this way, if you were in a perfectly happy relationship with your significant other and one day they told you you had to get rid of every picture of your childhood pets, you should abandon that relationship faster than a first class ticket on the Titanic. In both cases, your SO is making the completely unreasonable demand that you abandon an emotionally significant portion of your upbringing and there are an infinitesimally small number of cases where that’s okay.
So let us jump down off our soapbox and say, collect things. Find something you love and personally identify with and collect as many as possible. It could be regular stuff like video games, comic books, figurines, sports memorabilia, vintage watches, or stamps. It could be completely weird stuff like German porcelain babies reenacting significant historical moments, vaudeville recordings, (legally obtained) locks of hair from celebrities, or presidential toilet seat covers. It doesn’t matter. If you love it and deem it worthy of building a collection, start raking it all together. Collections can be fulfilling, reassuring, and nostalgic in all the right ways, so don’t stop yourself because pop culture made you feel weird about your shelves of Bernie Mac DVD commentaries. We think it’s great you have something.
Stock Your Liquor Cabinet/Bar/Plastic Hideaway Gin Bin
No matter where you keep it, liquor can be an expensive investment, especially if you’re like us and like to have an assortment of choices. In an ideal world, we’d have at least two bottles of every major type of spirit, pushing up to five or six when it comes to bourbon, rye, Scotch, and Irish. If you’re doing that, you need to stock up on mixers and liqueurs as well, otherwise your hopes of making a Manhattan on a whim are completely dashed. Plus there’s glassware, which, for cocktails, can make a significant difference, so you need a few types. Then there’s stuff you didn’t even see coming, like lemons, limes, spices, and herbs, if those are the kinds of drinks you’re making. By the time you’ve cobbled together a respectable collection, you’re in the hole a couple hundred bucks and the father who spends a couple hundred bucks on alcohol is the neighborhood cautionary tale. But the single man who spends a couple hundred bucks on alcohol is the guy who hosts well supplied parties. And if you have the collection then have kids, you’re just maintaining a fun-loving lifestyle. It’s weird how that all breaks down.
Complacency is where fulfillment goes to die, so we recommend never getting complacent. Really, you could boil this whole article down to that first sentence. In this case, we’re talking about a real challenge. Something that doesn’t even tangentially touch your comfort zone. A lot of advice about this centers on physical activity. Marathons, iron man competitions, obstacle courses, boot camps, all that good stuff. And we’re not knocking that. If that’s something you’ve never done and it seems an insurmountable goal to you, get to it. A long test of your physical endurance is exactly what you need.
But the challenge could also come in the form of stand-up or improv classes, music lessons, writing clubs, pet ownership, driving lessons, coding classes, cooking, entertaining, model rockets, or any number of pursuits. For some people, learning the guitar takes as much effort, discipline, and focus as it does others to train for the Boston Marathon. There are people with the kind of stage fright that makes having two people look at them at the same time a terrifyingly large spotlight. Some people might as well be staring at a lost runic language when they read a cookbook. Whatever the challenge is, we guarantee your life will be much more fulfilling if you give it a shot.
You don’t even have to be good at it. Learning about yourself comes from the experience, which you get whether or not you succeed. As long as the effort is honest, you’ve done better than the majority of people who float through life without carping any diems whatsoever.
An Epic Road Trip
Cars are excellent at road trips. That might seem like a pretty dumb sentence, but we see so many people only using their cars to commute to work or pick up IKEA furniture when Eisenhower worked hard to make sure Americans can get pretty much anywhere in the country on four wheels. Take advantage of it. If you’re on the East Coast, head West. West Coast, go East. Make stops along the way. Go for scenery, not making good time. Do it on a motorcycle. The sense of fulfillment you feel the whole way through, beginning to end, will be unlike anything you’ve ever felt.
Join an Adult Sports League
By now, most of us have realized we’re not going to achieve our dream of being a professional NBA/NFL/MLB/NHL/XFL/WNBA/Little League athlete. We have to satisfy ourselves with being middling-at-best sportsmen who are competent on the field but won’t impress anyone with our lithe athleticism. But that’s totally fine because pretty much every adult sports league we’ve ever heard of or played for was full of guys like us and very few of them had illusions of grandeur. Most of them were guys like us, looking to stay fit, make a few friends, and grab a beer or two after playing some friendly soccer, softball, basketball, or whatever. It’s basically a high school gym class for adults, but more fun.
Vegas. Bourbon Street. Cancun.
Some tourist mainstays stick around for a reason. They’re monolithic in their region and if you do it right, you’ll become part of a larger tradition of vacationing history. Our main sites would have to be the three in the title, Vegas, Bourbon Street, Cancun. These are the places that made unbridled partying famous, with drinking, debauchery, music, and a penchant for insanity. Get yourself there and throw yourself completely into their respective atmospheres. Buy yourself a tailored suit for Vegas. Stock up on beads and jazz knowledge for Bourbon Street. Put hours and hours into your beach bod for Cancun. Take the cliches to heart and see what you can do with them. You might end up liking being a generic tourist.