Never Have I Ever (aka: Stuff I Should Probably Try)


My oldest kid, a senior in high school, did something recently that he has never ever done before. He went to his high school’s homecoming dance.

Yes, I know, lots of kids go to school dances, not a big deal. But for my son, a late bloomer, it was a first. Truth be told, he didn’t enjoy it all that much, thanks to a group of party-pooper friends who bailed halfway through. But he saw the value in attending, if only once in his lifetime. Now if I can just convince him to go to prom, too…

Have you ever played the game, Never Have I Ever? Here are the classic rules:

  • Friends sit in a circle with ten fingers pointing in.
  • Someone makes a Never Have I Ever statement, such as, “Never have I ever played Chinese Fire Drill at a stoplight.”
  • Those who have actually played Chinese Fire Drill remove one finger. Those who have never done it do not remove one finger.
  • The winner is the one who still has fingers remaining in the circle when everyone else has been eliminated.

drinking-gamesThis game sounds an awful lot like The Purity Test, which I used to play back in college and win every time, with a score of around 95% pure. And apparently, Never Have I Ever is also a popular drinking game, which I wouldn’t know, because Never Have I Ever played a drinking game of any kind.

While I’m trying to guide my kids toward taking calculated risks in life and trying a few things they’ve never tried before, I become glaringly aware of how many Never-Have-I-Evers are still on my own list. Of course, there are plenty of Never-Will-I-Evers on the list, too, like sex with a stranger, smoking cigarettes, or inciting a riot, but let’s just ignore those.



…caught a fish
(and likely won’t, unless I actually try going fishing one day).

…been intoxicated (What can I say? I’ve never had occasion to overindulge with alcohol. Once I drank three glasses of wine while relaxing at home alone, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t too affected).

…traveled somewhere that required a passport (unless you count those teen missionary trips to Mexican border towns back in the no-passport-required days).

…gone out dancing as an adult (Well to be fair, I did get to dance at a couple of weddings around 20 years ago, and once at a conference party for writers. But I’ve never been out to dance at a club, which is probably weird for someone who loves dancing as much as I do).


…been on a cruise (unless you count those 1-hr. ferry tours around the San Francisco Bay, but that’s not really the same thing).

…fired a gun (And to tell you the truth, I kind of have a phobia of guns and even the idea of holding one freaks me out. Can I play the girl card?).

…played golf (Seeing as I’ve played soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and a slew of non-ball sports, too, it’s probably just a matter of time before I get sucked into golf world).

…been camping in the desert or on the beach (one of these days…).

…gone wine tasting (which is strange for someone who enjoys wine and lives less than two hours away from Napa Valley, California. But wine tasting just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing one does alone).

…been to an NFL or NBA game (another thing that sounds fun to do, but not by myself. Maybe I’ll take the kids one day, when I can save up enough money).


This list could go on and on. There are just so many things I’ve never done which many people have by my stage of life. Some things I’m not sure I’d really want to do anyway, but others I would absolutely love to try. Some of these things I could totally choose to do at any time. Others seem just out-of-reach, either due to a lack of financial resources or a lack of social companions to do them with. In just reviewing my personal list of Never-Have-I-Evers, there are two things I can say for sure:

  1. I still have a lot of things to look forward to experiencing in life.
  2. I would totally win the game of Never Have I Ever. Which I have never played, by the way. I guess I should add that to my list.


6 responses to “Never Have I Ever (aka: Stuff I Should Probably Try)

  1. I think my philosophy would be to try things, and encourage others to try things, that they think they will like, that they are excited about, that they feel drawn to. And then they can engage in a useful trial-and-error process to discover more about themselves and what they truly like and where their passions lie.

    Conversely, I’m not sure there’s much benefit in trying things one isn’t interested in, doesn’t believe in, etc. For instance, I’ve never been to a strip club, and I have no desire to support or participate in that kind of thing because I believe it’s probably it’s exploitative and not probably a very emotionally healthy habit or pass time. I also have no interest in sky diving or bungee jumping – I just don’t understand the appeal. I’m not interested in golf either, but I’m more neutral on it – some day I would be open to trying it if I developed an interest. Walking around on the grass in the sunshine seems nice, and I do like croquet. 🙂

    I would say that in general I have tried most of the things I’ve been interested in or felt like trying. Some of them have turned out to be great (like camping in the desert and learning to surf and learning about cosmology), others have been disappointments (like learning to ski and becoming a ski instructor, and reading sociology), but I feel like that’s been a useful growing process for me and for understanding myself better.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I totally agree about the lack of benefit in trying things one isn’t interested in at all, or the Never-Will-I-Evers, as I put it. And yes, I would also add strip clubs, sky diving, and bungee jumping to that list, too. 😉 I’ve tried many of the things which have interested me, though there are still quite a few that remain — some more interesting than others, and unfortunately, many of which require money or friends, neither of which I have, or courage, which is often in short supply, too.

      It’s not that I mind too much, knowing that I am such an inexperienced adult for someone my age. But it can be awkward to partake in a conversation with other people and have to admit that no, I have never drunk shots, never had a pedicure, have no idea how to play card games (other than Old Maid and Go Fish). The looks people give me make me feel like a little kid masquerading as a grown-up, and the lack of ability to relate makes it harder to socialize.

      Oh and thanks for the reminder – I have still never been skiing, despite the nearest ski resort being only an hour’s drive away. Maybe I should do something about that one soon. Guess I can ask my kids to teach me, haha.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. There are some things you’ve never done or experienced, but they seem mostly like superficial things. And on the flip side of the coin there are lots of things you’ve done that many other people haven’t done, and also things you can and do do in your life that other people can’t do or don’t do well.

    The superficial things you haven’t done, like drinking shots or having a pedicure or playing cards are things you could easily do, but they wouldn’t add any depth of character or interesting perspective on life. They wouldn’t add to you as a person.

    On the other hand, a lot of people have never written a poem, and they haven’t read a fraction of the books you’ve read, and they have no idea how a computer works or how to trouble-shoot when it’s not working. And they haven’t raised kids well, as you’re doing (by yourself, no less), and a lot of people don’t know how to cook well, and don’t know how to bake, and don’t know how to make bread, and haven’t tasted, let alone attempted to make, many of the meals you make quite well, and a lot of people aren’t familiar with the ethnic cuisines and flavors that you’re very familiar with and that you enjoy regularly and have introduced your kids to.

    And a lot of people (now I’m thinking of people who live in NYC, for example) have never been camping, never been hiking in the mountains, never seen the amazing deserts and lakes and alpine vistas of California and the west coast, never experienced the High Sierra.

    Overall it seems like you lead an incredibly rich life, a very high quality life, a healthy life (healthy body, healthy mind – the ancient ideal!) – better than 99.9% of humans who have ever lived!!! 🙂

    • What? A pedicure, superficial? 😀 Yes, I suppose quite a few of those experiences I’ve missed are on the shallow side. And yet, so many people seem to register such surprise that I still have never tried them, as though there’s a book everyone has read, called, “How to Live a Genuine Adult Life,” and I’ve skipped half the chapters.

      And wow…it is really something to view my actual life experiences through the eyes of another person. I guess the things that I do and have done, which can seem so mundane at times, have contributed to living a full and rich life, despite the things that I still haven’t done. It’s like having trekked through beautiful forests, beaches and deserts, but pining over the amusement park I still haven’t visited. Thank you for the fresh perspective!

  3. Exactly – it’s like, you know the taste of fresh-baked warm rosemary bread that you made yourself, and you’ve enjoyed Ethiopian food and Thai Food and Vietnamese food and Japanese food, and you know the ethnic grocery stores and you’ve brought your kids to them, but along the way somehow you missed out on McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell, and you’ve missed a lot of commercials on TV. Everyone else seems to be very familiar with all the TV commercials and the food at McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell. So maybe it’s a little weird that you’ve missed out on things that seem common to most people, but actually you’ve eaten a wide array of much healthier foods, you’ve created more interesting meals for yourself and your family, and you’ve experienced many more unique flavors and types of cuisine than someone who has eaten a lot of American fast food. So when you’re eating some yummy Thai food, you’re really not missing out on a Filet-O-Fish.

    And you’ve given birth to 3 great kids and you are raising them to be kind, thoughtful, ethical, inquisitive, culturally aware adults. Many, many people do not have the time or energy or put in the effort to spend actual time with their kids and guide them along these dimensions. I think of Donald Trump’s childhood as an example of a kid who grew up with tons of money but just didn’t get the nurturing and positive role modeling and emotional intelligence and ethical upbringing that kids need in order to be kind, sensitive, emotionally secure, inquisitive adults. So raising kids well is probably the biggest, most challenging, most important undertaking any adult faces. And you’re doing a great job of it. True, you have missed out on going out to bars and getting drunk, because you’re busy being a good parent. But the trade-off there is laughably imbalanced.

    You’ve been fortunate to live in an area that’s as culturally rich as the Bay Area, together with great access to amazing outdoor places, the California Coast and the mountains. There’s nothing like that in Dallas or Omaha or Tulsa. So you’re lucky, but you’ve also made efforts to expose your children to those things – the multi-ethnic cultures and the incredible outdoor places. And, if I recall correctly, you also got to go to college in a small, remote town in the mountains, and that’s another type of rich experience that most Americans don’t ever get to have. Even if you didn’t love it, you got to experience it, and learn more about your preferences.

    And when it comes to literature and poetry, you’re far better read than most people throughout history. You have a richness to your mental life that is exceptional. And the opportunities for learning on the internet, the access to sophisticated theories and information in fields like psychology (Ms. INTJ) that you can tap into are unlike anything humans have ever had access to until the past 15 years or so.

    And you’ve played soccer, baseball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, gone jogging, ridden your bicycle, and played other sports. Even one generation ago, my mom never had the opportunity to try any of those things, because it was thought that women shouldn’t participate in athletics. So you have experienced things that the vast majority of women for the past 200,000 years, since the dawn of humans as a species, 10,000 generations in a row, never got to experience. You are part of the very first generation to be able to do all that stuff, and experience all that variety!! So what if you haven’t played golf or gone skiing – the marginal utility of trying one more sport is small.

    You’ve also experienced the modern “problem” of having such abundant food that you gained weight, and you also learned how to lose weight and be healthy, something many Americans are really struggling with. The number of really obese people at my work is astonishing.

    It’s just really remarkable that you have such an abundant variety in your life of hobbies and intellectual interests and cultural interests and culinary interests and kids and outdoor experiences and technology and athletic opportunities and learning opportunities. It’s a charmed life. 🙂

    • I can’t express to you how uplifting and encouraging your comments were. Not enough people get the pleasure of hearing from another person that they are doing things well, raising their children on a good path, and living a good life. It also gave me a chance to step back and assess my life through your perspective, and I was filled with a great deal of gratitude (and a craving for fresh-baked rosemary bread).
      I have always tried to conscientiously raise my children to be kind, ethical, curious, resourceful, and culturally aware, and I love those moments when evidence of those values shine through, and I get a glimpse of the adults they may some day become. It’s so easy, in this culture, to give in to children’s whims and demands for instant gratification, or to surrender to what is easy. It takes a great deal of hard work, and strength of mind and character to raise children well, whether one is single or married, wealthy or poor. Some days, it is exhausting to make sure that homework is done, to dole out reminders, to ask questions and listen to them about their lives, to begin discussions about current events or books or controversial topics. But we are all better for it, and children deserve that level of attention and guidance, every day. I love my other job, too, as it is fulfilling and pays the bills. But raising these kids is my favorite – and most important job.

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