The List

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.


“Her list.”

“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…”

A given.

“…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.”

Author: Almost Iowa

34 thoughts on “The List”

  1. Great idea…(laughing) the gloom box and the burning festival. Gotta keep humor in life. Stan’s the perfect compiled character! Who’s Daphne? 🎶 Christine

  2. Writing down our lists of grudges is never a good idea, and it’s even a worse idea to ask someone else to write a list of all the wrongs we have done to them. What was Stan thinking? I don’t even catalogue my own faults (far too depressing), and I’d never have the nerve to ask anyone else to do it!

    1. Stan is my foil for describing what not to do in life. As a character, he is a composite of four friends I had in the old neighborhood. He first appeared the day after I encountered one of those friends in the Minneapolis City Hall. I was walking with the police chief (a good friend), a deputy chief, my Lieutenant and Sargent. All of us were wearing civilian clothes. “Stan” had just been released from jail and not knowing that I worked for the police, unloaded on them.

      No one interrupted his harangue, figuring it was instructive.

      After he walked away, ranting, I felt a bit sheepish, but my Lieutenant saved the day when she remarked, “it always helps to know what our customers are thinking.”

  3. I don’t know why, but her holding her pen like a chisel made me burst out laughing . Since it is 5 am, my wife is now adding things to her list.

    1. Have you heard about this festival? It is the perfect reason to keep “The List” and the perfect thing to do with it.

      From Wikipedia Zozobra (“Old Man Gloom”) is a giant marionette effigy that is built and burned during the annual Fiestas de Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As his name suggests, he embodies gloom; by burning him, people destroy the worries and troubles of the previous year in the flames.[1] Anyone with an excess of gloom is encouraged to write down the nature of his or her gloom on a slip of paper and leave it in the “gloom box” found in the offices of the Santa Fe Reporter in the weeks leading up to the burn. Many people put legal papers in the gloom box as well. At the festival the papers from the gloom box are placed at Zozobra’s feet to be burned alongside him.

    1. See the comment I left for Shoreacres (Linda) about the Zorobra Festival. A good reason to keep a list is to symbolically purge all the things that torment us. It is like the Jewish tradition of the scape goat.

      1. The secret to a happy fictional life is to stay on the good side of the writer (we have extraordinary powers). Until Stan makes nice with me, his life is going to be a living hell.

  4. Another classic work. A appreciate the subtle humor in this, thanks for the laugh

  5. Bad idea, Stan. In 10 years, when her list is 4″ tall and he’s still trying to fill the second page, he’s in trouble. When he shows her his list and she produces the Rebuttal Papers, showing how almost everything on that list is actually his fault, he’ll be back on your couch for good.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: