Stan showed up on my doorstep shortly after bar closing, looking like a lost puppy.
“Daphne kicked me out,” he said
“What did you do now?” I asked.
“Go ahead,” he said, “assume it’s my fault.”
It was a safe assumption.
“Honestly,” he said, flopping onto my couch. “I don’t know.”
“Did you ask?”
“I tried,” he whined, “but when she’s so moody, there is no use in talking to her. I’ll let it slide until she comes around.”
Great, I thought, I’ll have a house guest until then.
“You can’t let these things fester,” I told him, “if it doesn’t get resolved, she will add it to her list.”
“Huh?” Stan said.
“Her list of unresolved issues. Think of it like Santa’s naughty and nice list, except for relationships. If you don’t work out your problems, they keep building up.”
“I know where she keeps it,” he said.
“It’s just a metaphor,” I told him, “not an actual list.”
“Not so,” he said, “It is real and she keeps it in the bottom drawer of her file cabinet, under a pile of old photos.”
I couldn’t believe it. No – on second thought, knowing Stan and Daphne, I could.
“It’s about two inches thick and the grudges are indexed by category,” he said, “She has it all organized with highlight tabs.”
Stan’s life is like a car crash, you know you should turn away but watching the horror unfold is too compelling. “Don’t keep me in suspense,” I said, “what does it say?”
“She wrote that I’m a weasel…”
“…and a jerk and a loser,” he said, “She must have wrote it holding her pen like a chisel.”
He went onto explain that Daphne kept a detailed chronology of his every transgression, right down to the quarter hour, which shed a lot of light on her behavior. For one thing, it cleared up why she was always checking her watch.
I was amazed. “So she compiled two inches of dirt on you?”
“Only about a quarter of it was mine,” he said, “The rest belonged to her old boyfriends.”
I asked him what he did when he found it.
Apparently, the next time they got into a tiff, he asked her to make a list of all the things she liked about him.
For Stan, this represented a rare step in a positive direction.
It took her three hours but she finally came up with something. She wrote, “You are good at fixing things.”
Next, he told her to make a list of everything she didn’t like about him. A few minutes later, she came back for more paper.
That is when he informed her that he had found her list. It is also when she kicked him out.
“So can I stay here for a while?” he asked.
“Tonight, yes,” I told him, “Tomorrow, you go work it out with Daphne.”
“I don’t know what to do about her,” he said, “but there is one thing I’m going to do…”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I’m going to start keeping a list of my own.”