If I were cool enough to play electric guitar really well, I would have a band called Martin Dugard and the Unforgiven, or Fred Sherbet and the Men of Steel. But certainly not South Coast Party Machine.

Women in their 40's tend to take much better care of themselves than men of the same age.

People who drive PT Cruisers are invariably Trekkies, pin traders, heavily bearded, awkwardly tattooed — or all of the above.

Put a group of former high school classmates in the same room with one another, and no matter their current wealth or social status, they will revert to teenaged mannerisms within five minutes.

Styx wasn't such a bad band after all, "Babe" notwithstanding. In fact, "Suite Madame Blue" really rocks.

These are the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a man attending his wife's high school reunion. It was 2 a.m. I was in a top-floor suite at the Costa Mesa Hilton. The room was defined by light beer, blaring classic rock, and nametags. There was a great deal of bare skin in the form of cleavage beaming up at me from the "v" of low-cut black dresses; that, and male pattern baldness.

It was, by turns, erotic and depressing. I could not look away.

My job was to be the spouse, which is to say that I had spent the evening being introduced time and time again to people Calene had gone to school with more than thirty years earlier; people who had no interest in making more than a perfunctory attempt at polite small talk with this new stranger in their midst before returning their focus to my wife. Thereupon they recounted madcap escapades from pep rallies and long ago English classes. Or, as one rather well-aged gentleman informed me, he had once been my wife's homecoming date. "She's a good kisser," he said with a smirk.

He actually said that. To my face.

"I know," I responded with a thin smile, suppressing the urge to punch him in the mouth.

At first it was easy to escape. I went where all male spouses go at their wife's reunion: the lobby bar. There we were assured a steady quantity of cold beer for an exorbitant fee, and a dose of whatever sporting event was on television. This particular night it was college football. Florida versus somebody. I stood there alone with an amber pint, invigorated as always by the mere act of watching sports, wondering how my wife had talked me into wearing a suit.

At some point in the night, I began doing that thing we all do at reunions — I took stock.

Had I done anything special with my life since high school? More to the point, my own reunion was a year off. Had I lived the kind of interesting life that I'd hoped for thirty years back?

Actually, yes.

I've sailed the seas (well, sea. Singular), ran with the bulls, flown around the world at twice the speed of sound, etc. etc. It's been a good run.

I would do well at my own reunion, should my school ever get back in the habit. Validating the last four solid decades of my life would not be a chore.

But all those adventures were ten years in the past. What had I done lately? I had been telling those stories forever, probably using the exact same words every time. I was becoming that person I never wanted to be: someone who decides that they have done quite enough with their life, and then settles into a staid, unchallenging rut. It's the life equivalent of a prevent defense.

All through the reunion, even up through the 2 a.m. after-party, I was lost in the swirl of people, torturing myself: had I settled into a life of mediocrity or was I still pushing my personal limits each and every day. That "keep pushing" philosophy had long guided me. Had I let it drift away?

The night transitioned into a meditation on mortality. If I had a year to live, how would I spend it? What adventures would I chase? What sort of compass would point me toward my North Star?

So I made a list. And thus, the journey begins . . .