1. Drive cross-country. Any country.
2. Run for local office. If it’s not a good fit, you can always derail yourself with a public scandal.
3. Pet a cheetah. An old, slow, unhungry one.
4. Rank your neighborhood bakeries. Taste everything they bake. You know, because you’re thorough.
5. Investigate a family mystery. If you solve it, keep the answer to yourself.
6. Go to a flea market in Paris and buy something redolent of the 1920s. Celebrate by downing a Pernod. Don’t gag.
7. Ask a friend to scare you thoroughly when you’ll least expect it. Forgive the friend within five years.
8. Wear armor. Someday
will make armor.
9. Learn to cook a dish you can claim to be famous for. Give it a plausibly famous name, such as “Mussels Arrivederci.” OK, something better than that.
10. Sing while lounging atop a grand piano, but stop short of writhing.
11. Quit a terrible job. If you get fired before you summon the courage to quit, silently thank your terrible boss.
12. Every town has an outdated law. Break one.
13. Rescue a horribly named dog (e.g. Oreo, Flower, Piddles) and compassionately rename it. Then, inevitably, start adding “y” to the name (Hucky, Bethy, Watsony), making it horrible again.
14. Drive down an entire street backward, even if it’s a remote country lane.
15. Pick a book that you’ve lied about having read and read it. Unless it’s “Ulysses” or “Middlemarch.” Then you’re exempt.
16. Sleep outside and not in a tent. Possibly in a hammock.
17. Eat camel hump at a souk in Fez. Try, unsuccessfully, to determine how many Weight Watchers points a serving of camel hump is.
18. Catch a dozen fireflies. Release.
19. Appreciate the gift of “never having done hot yoga.” Some things cannot be unsmelled.
20. Attempt a cartwheel. To avoid injury, take care to avoid landing on your walker.
21. Emerge victorious from a battle of wills while milking a cow.
22. Wear a large and interesting hat.
23. Since haters of pumpkin spice now rival its defenders in number, decide once and for all where you stand.
24. Redecorate your least favorite room. Preferably one in your own home.
25. Do something you’re petrified of doing. See No. 56.
26. Teach a baby chimpanzee sign language. Take care not to teach him the word “insurrection.”
27. Try Biologique Recherche P50—the 1970 version—and deliberate: Is it really the best skin care product of all time?
28. Bluff, successfully, during a negotiation.
29. Jump off a becalmed sailboat into the Aegean Sea. Diving is showier.
30. With this Jonathan Franzen quote in mind, identify one of your recent insights: “When the event, the big change in your life, is simply an insight—isn’t that a strange thing?”
31. Mentor someone, even if he or she didn’t ask you to.
32. Buy a round for the entire bar—preferably on a mellow weeknight.
33. Move to a place with bragging rights. A lighthouse would do.
34. Discover Copenhagen by having what many (including dispensers of Michelin stars) say will be the best meal of your life at Geranium.
35. Tame a squirrel.
36. Reintroduce yourself to the comfort that is corduroy.
37. Make friends on Facebook with someone with your name.
38. With eyes shut, spin a globe and point your finger. Then visit the destination. If your finger lands on a body of water, take a drink and try again. If your finger lands on a war zone, violently kick the globe across the room and try again. If you’d really rather just go to Australia, peek.
39. Buy a watch your grandson will be proud of. Or, for that matter, your gender-fluid granddaughter.
40. Crack the code.
41. If the 1960s meant something to you, and you’re in Hollywood, and you happen to need breakfast, go to the 101 Coffee Shop and order the waffles.
42. Swim with the turtles.
43. Swim with the elephants.
44. Swim with the dinosaurs, after collaborating with Elon Musk to build an ingenious, battery-powered time-travel machine.
45. Hide something valuable in your house or bury it in the backyard. Make a treasure map for future generations.
46. Call a family meeting to create a logo based on your family’s strengths. Combative and chaotic can be considered strengths.
47. Challenge yourself culinarily: Roast a turkey, bake a cherry pie with a lattice crust, make french fries from scratch and whip up your own mayonnaise.
48. Confront your resistance, if you have any, to a clothing-optional setting.
49. Fly over Mt. Everest in a propeller plane.
50. Perfect the casual invite as in: “Just stay for dinner. C’mon, I need help with the salad.”
51. Consider that “Robinson” is not a particularly Swiss-sounding name for a family.
52. Explore and improve your relationship to trees. Lean on one; nickname one; eat under one; plant one with a kid.
53. What message would you skywrite to a beloved? Whisper it to him or her instead.
54. Swim in a moat, as in Dodie Smith’s 1948 novel “I Capture the Castle.”
55. Make lists of things being done by people 20 years younger and 20 years older than you. Pick three from each and give them a shot.
56. Use a bidet.
57. Use a bidet correctly.
58. If you have a day to kill in downtown Detroit, experience at least two of the four floors of John K. King’s used and rare bookstore. Engage the staff.
59. Write an impassioned letter to the editor. Get your facts straight.
60. Cross the Atlantic Ocean in a ship. Become briefly, violently seasick so that, once you gain your sea legs, you can enjoy being blissful and somewhat cocky.
61. Learn how to knit your own sweater. Okay, scarf. Okay, single mitten.
62. Cascades, Sunset Limited, Empire Builder: Pick a train route, a companion, and just go.
63. Peel out.
64. Have an actual potluck dinner. Themes are good: a color, a country, a decade. Avoid assignments—if there are seven desserts, there are seven desserts.
65. Take a nighttime boat ride down the Ganges in Varanasi, past the burning pyres
66. Experience the intense physical collaboration that is volleyball, either on grass, in a gym, or on a beach.
67. Have a photo of you and your family/spouse made into a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle and assemble it together. Don’t overthink the psychological subtext of the teardown.
68. Experience both love and squalor, even if there is no Esme in your life.
69. Stop by your lonely-seeming neighbor’s place and say “hello.”
70. Use a porch properly: to people-watch; to read; to drink gin and Bitter Lemon; to have a directionless conversation. A stoop will do in a pinch.
71. Memorize at least one quotation. Our go-to comes from Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), the New Zealand short-story writer: “Come, my unseen, my unknown, let us talk together.”
72. Interview your mother to find out what her favorite recipe was as a child. Make it for her.
73. Ignore your abysmal record at matchmaking and try once again with those two people you just know would hit it off. If nothing else, you’ll maintain your abysmal record at matchmaking.
74. Pour yourself a glass of Wild Turkey 101. As in 101 Proof.
75. Watch all eight hours and five minutes of Andy Warhol’s movie “Empire,” a continuous slow-motion shot of the top of the Empire State Building.
76. Accept that there is nothing you can do about the traffic.
77. When the opportunity comes along to take the second or third step in making a new friend, take it.
78. Go skinny-dipping under a moonlit sky. Choose a pool so as not to inadvertently re-enact the opening scene in “Jaws.”
79. Finally get your due the way 102-year-old artist Carmen Herrera did at New York’s Whitney Museum last year.
80. Attempt to skip double-Dutch.
81. When in Southern California, ignore your skepticism and hire an alternative healer to address your most persistent issue: an intimacy expert, an acupuncturist, a cranial sacral massage therapist, a psychic.
82. Adopt a fawn, as Audrey Hepburn did.
83. Climb the stairs in a building with 101 floors. Four such buildings exist, two in Dubai, naturally.
84. When you replace your kitchen appliances, resist the intense peer pressure to buy stainless steel ones. Somebody’s got to take the lead.
85. Give a eulogy.
86. Spend time in a developing country, the kind of place where you need to bring Cipro.
87. Take measures to avoid becoming one of those people who, in their dotage, walks around town with a parrot on their shoulders, smiling broadly despite the fact that its claws are really digging into their flesh.
88. Record an iPhone video of yourself singing a love song and send it to your partner, even if you go off-tune. Cheesy suggestion: “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?”
89. Go to a drive-in with homemade popcorn and watch a movie from the roof of a car. Even better with children.
90. Go see what all the fuss is about.
91. Sail a toy boat, available for rent, in New York’s Central Park.
92. Ride a horse around the Egyptian pyramids. Once around is plenty.
93. Visit 101 countries. Congratulations, you’re eligible to join the 1,400 members of the Travelers’ Century Club.
94. Purge the word “semblance” from your vocabulary. Also: “unprecedented.”
95. If at all possible, have a house built to your specifications, tower room and all.
96. Buy a leather jacket. Over the course of the next 20 years, break it in.
97. Look at the moon and consider that Virginia Woolf, Harry Houdini and Jesus all looked at the same moon.
98. Outwit a bully.
99. One summer, simply lift all the carpets off your floors so you feel like you’re vacationing in a Caribbean bungalow. Of course, if you have wall-to-wall carpet, you’ll really need to put your back into it.
100. Make peace with your ex.
101. Dance with Maasai warriors in Kenya. Failing that, dance with aggressive retirees in Connecticut.
—Contributors: Jessica Coen, Terrance Flynn, Tim Gavin, James Hitchcock and Off Duty staff
Appeared in the October 28, 2017, print edition as ‘101 Things to Do Before You Die (At Age 101).’