Unless you’re one of those readers who lunges for each new issue of Houstonia without even pausing to consider what that month’s cover portends, seizing and devouring it whole like a python swallowing an antelope, you know that our task this month was to determine the 100 things each Houstonian must do. It was no small feat, let me tell you. Think about it. This is a town in which there are either 673 things to do or a million, depending on the broadness of your outlook and unpopularity on Saturday nights. Clearly, any attempt to rank the top 100 of these things would be an exercise in hubris. Luckily, such exercises are our specialty.
In coming to our final list of must-dos, we first asked ourselves what Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman would have done if The Bucket List had been set in Houston. Anything on that list we discarded. Next, we asked many of our city’s most important movers and shakers what was on their must-do lists. These we also discarded. Still in need of winnowing down our selections, we scrutinized the list of remaining candidates, eliminating any duplicates (for some mysterious reason, “visit the Beer Can House” was listed no fewer than 12 times). Also, we had already bought butter and sandwich meat earlier in the week, and removed those entries accordingly.
Any must-do that had somehow survived our vigorous hazing process was then voted on by the entire Houstonia staff. It was here that we made our most brutal cuts, arbitrarily deciding that any item receiving three votes or more would be discarded. Thus was our original list of many thousands distilled down to just 83 things every Houstonian must do. This left us with too few things to recommend, we concluded, as well as a number that did not look attractive on the cover of a magazine. And so, we randomly reinstated 14 must-dos and re-listed the Beer Can House three times.
The result, as you have no doubt gleaned by now, is a list that is useful and thought-provoking to every Houstonian, yet provocative in its own way. A 73-year-old reader of an advance copy of our list, for instance, questioned the wisdom of our recommending that she “Roll Down the Hermann Park Hill," saying that this would not be advisable for her when the area was under a flash flood warning. Our staff briefly tabled the objection, but ultimately decided against removing the item. Some argued that the risk of flash floods was remote because Hermann Park lies above the flood plain. Others expressed concern at how the number 99 would look on our cover. Still others questioned the woman’s motivation, wondering if perhaps she was just trying to have the hill all to herself.
In telling you these things I am not in the least seeking your pity, nor will I apologize in advance for a must-do list that hails the importance of learning how to swerve around a squirrel but not, say, going to the Galleria. Yes, the latter is a destination welcoming many millions from around the world each year. But I ask you, how many of these are squirrels?