»  National Review Online

November 27th, 2006

  Well, I Never


They have a cute dinner-table game going over at the London Daily Telegraph, in which you just confess out loud to things you have never done. Charles Moore covers the basics here.

The trick is that the things you confess to never having done are things that — and this is of course highly life-context-dependent — you ought to have done, or feel you ought to have; or things of which the omission is surprising in some other way — e.g. lived your whole life in London but never seen the Thames. Things that hardly anyone does ("never been on safari") don't count.

As a chronic lifetime underachiever, I thought this would be a no-brainer for me, but I had forgotten why I am an underachiever: because I'm a dilettante, who has to try every damn thing once. That'll make you a rolling stone all right, and exclude you from any serious moss-gathering, but it cuts down severely on your nevers.

And I started my adult life never-deficient anyway, having attended one of those strenuous English boys' schools, so that by the time I got to college I had sampled most physical activities, from boxing to target shooting, from long-distance running to rock climbing.

I think I'm short on nevers in the life-negatives department, too, for reasons I'd rather not think about. I have been beaten up, knocked out (three times I can recall*), drowned (to semi-unconsciousness), robbed, swindled, fired, unemployed, broke, flunked, jilted, and bereaved.**

Yet still I find I am rich in nevers. Here's a sample. All of them are things that either I regret never having done, or things that, it seems to me, based on the general tenor of my life, it is surprising I have never done.

I have never, as an adult:

* (1) playing rugby; (2) carelessly walking at speed into a large, solid, immobile object; (3) car crash.

** Careful here, Derb. "Depend upon it that if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him." — Dr. Johnson.

*** And in fact I am not sure I really believe this can be done without recourse to occult arts.

**** Borderline: I can watch TV on the computer in my study. Still, it's not a TV set.