Over the summer I’ve perused three or four books about bucket lists (those collections of tasks, large and small, that one dreams of completing before “kicking the bucket”) and my reading dovetails nicely with the perceived state of the nation.
Someone is always predicting that the United States of America is either slowly or rapidly descending into bankruptcy, complete moral depravity (think Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards show) or international irrelevance. If these predictions are really going to come true, surely there are some goals (whether frivolous or grandiose) that we as a nation would like to accomplish before time runs out.
I invite you to submit suggestions via either email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or snail mail (1801 Snake Creek Rd., Belfast, TN 37019). But only if you’ve secured the borders first. I’ll wait.
I’ve already received a few unsolicited ideas from readers and would like to share those in the meantime.
A reader from Santa Clarita Valley, Calif. hopes to live long enough to see Puerto Rico become the 51st state - provided Puerto Rico can supply DMV-issued photo identification.
An anonymous donor from Erie, Pa. was generous enough to offer two suggestions: “Helium balloons for everyone – THEN let the NSA listen in!” and “Grand Canyon. Chocolate fountain. Have Ben Bernanke crank up the printing press.”
Steve of Mountain Home, Ark. had a revolutionary idea for modernizing congressional procedures - but would C-SPAN or ESPN have dibs on televising “Mixed Martial Arts Filibusters”?
A reader from Oneida, N.Y. would like to see the Statue of Liberty change her gown to a pantsuit and the inscription to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Friends of Bill…” (The impact on the televising of the Republican presidential debates is still unknown.)
A reader from Peru, Ind. would like to see the phrase officially changed to “As American as two moms and genetically modified apple pie.” (This reader probably does not spend a lot of time socializing with the gentleman who questions “PURPLE mountains’ majesty” and asks for a “manlier” color in the lyrics of “America The Beautiful.”)
Some respondents are real extremists. One from Ketchikan, Alaska demands a living wage and other benefits for FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. (“Call me Ishmael…but not today! I’m starting my five-week vacation. Booyah!”) Surely that reader has little in common with the stressed businessman from Lafayette, La. Who - just once before the end comes - wishes OSHA would look the other way if he happened to drop comical anvils and Acme safes on flesh-and-blood employees.
Another looming battle involves the rights of the unborn. A reader from St. Johnsbury, Vt. insists, “Well, technically, the child - er, blob of tissue - isn’t really a human being until after the SECOND knee replacement.”
This is in stark contrast to the correspondent from Farmington, N.M. who champions the Gleam Act. (“Any pollutant or distraction that removes the gleam from the father’s eye shall be punishable by incarceration for not less than…”)
No matter how divisive the suggestions, there are probably a handful on which we can find common ground. Like pumping more money into the space program so we can send celebrities on a one-way trip to the moon or Mars. (“In space, no one can hear you mangle the National Anthem.”)