The List

07Sep06

As my friend Janet sees it, it’s not only her pleasure to spread the word to the general public about her ex-boyfriend’s inadequacies, but also her duty. Jumping straight to the good part, let’s hear about what she calls “an ex of mine during a time period that I had no respect for myself and went, well, insane.”

Well, if that’s all you can grow, that’s not my problem. Other women deserve to be warned. Call it community service. Plus, he’s a lawyer; if he was smart, he would have had me sign some kind of ‘No Spreading Around How Small My Penis Is’ agreement. I’m sure he could have gotten a template for the agreement from a Hollywood lawyer … Tom Cruise’s perhaps.

Plus, that’s not even what I get the best responses from. The best come from when I describe his chicken legs, chicken cutlet breasts, baggy tighty whiteys, grey teeth grimace, Stilton smelling pinky winky, and creepy voice. On occasion, I will demonstrate how he ate with his mouth open, how he danced to the Rolling Stones, with his eyes rolled back in his head, fingers snapping, and knees wobbling about, smiling, showing his evil grey grimace.

If that doesn’t satisfy most people’s need for a good repulsion, I then will go over his diet, which usually consisted of mince (yes, that’s right, nothing but ground beef and chopped onion), and his love of revolting fast food, and of course, his insane conversations about how his mother beat him up.

Hey, there’s a topic for your blog … ‘The List’. It’s a female thing that maybe men should be aware of. It may keep them in line. The intent on this post should be to warn men, to make them aware that all those times we pretended not to notice the food rolling around in their gaping mouths, or when they fart in bed, or when they don’t wash their penises, WE KNOW. And better yet, WE REMEMBER … and if you act like an asshole, it’s going to end up on a list one day for everyone to see.

Or it might end up on a blog, of course. But as a public service, it might indeed be a good idea to discuss The List, something I know well.


Of course, public shaming isn’t actually the main point of The List. The primary reason for it is to help a girl get over a bad breakup by ruthlessly and comprehensively enumerating the ex’s every single defect, usually done in a brainstorming session with the girl’s best friend to ensure no detail is missed.1

Janet stresses that what makes a list so powerful are not only the horrible things that the ex did, such as cheat or pass along an STD, but also the little things, which have their own power and add up. No detail is too petty, no physical or personality defect too trivial.2 For example, another of her ex-boyfriends knocked up his ex-girlfriend while he was dating Janet. “But really,” she says, “what I found to be equally as repulsive was the fact that he wore KISS T-shirts and the occasional pair of hightops, and he couldn’t eat spicy food (it made his eyes water). That’s just not manly.”

“The list can be divided into two parts: Physical Repulsions, and All the Shitty Things He Has Said And Done To You,” Janet explains. When compiling The List for the recent ex, Janet and her best friend spent an hour on the first part alone, concentrating mostly on his ugly Dudley Moore hairstyle. They didn’t even get to the second part in the first session. Janet says The List eventually grew to three pages, although she never actually finished it; she just got tired.

(For my money, though, if you’re the subject of The List, you don’t want it to be focused mainly on the first part, say, on how you constantly left skidmarks on your underwear and her sheets and towels, for example.3 There’s more self-respect to be had if it’s heavier on the second part. It means that you’re not necessarily repulsive — just a cad.)

The List serves as a concrete reminder to be referred to during moments of weakness, to be posted by the phone or taped to the back of one’s bedroom door as a daily reminder. “The list really makes you wonder what you ever saw in the person,” says Janet. “I love the list. The list always works. Every time.”

It seems like a whole lot of trouble for a woman to go to in order to remind and convince herself that she hates her ex. And indeed, it’s a bit of a compliment to be the subject of The List. It means she’s having a hard time getting over you. Not every guy gets The List. Some guys just get forgotten. The two guys mentioned above were the only ones for which Janet ever needed The List. And having dated Janet’s aforementioned best friend, I’m one of only two guys for which she needed The List. What are my defects? Well, if you regularly read this blog, you probably have some ideas, but here are Janet’s:

All I can remember from ‘The List’ was your love of ball-hugging jeans and your difficulty understanding personal space. I think I remember one thing that now seems really dumb. I think I contributed that I felt your eyes were too dark for your hair colour. A sign of the devil.

I’m actually a little disappointed to find my own material rather lackluster. I can’t see how it would help anyone stay further away from me than they were already going to. Besides, my previous two-fisted tales of public transit would indicate that I actually have a well-developed sense of personal space, so that one’s questionable. I can’t do much about my dark, smouldering, beady eyes, except to point out that my ex-housemate, whom Janet and I mutually hated, held the exact same opinion, so she might want to change her tune on general principle. And while I concede the point about the jeans, I should point out that anything I wear is ball-hugging by necessity. It’s both a blessing and a curse.4

1. Compare this to the advice offered in The Complete A**hole’s Guide to Handling Women on list-making for men, which recommends that all flaws be comprehensively noted before the breakup. That way, when she tells you she doesn’t think it’s working out, you can agree and explain why, annihilating her ego by reciting your list from memory for the next 10 to 15 minutes until she begins to feel like you’re dumping her and is emotionally destroyed.
2. One of Janet’s pet peeves is cheapness, particularly when men fail to pick up the cheque for dinner, citing the first time she and her ex went out for dinner, when he put his credit card down but asked her to chip in $20.00, which he pocketed: “Yes, I know I’m treading in controversial waters here, but really, unless you’ve moved out of dating and into a full-blown relationship, MEN SHOULD ALWAYS PAY FOR DINNER. Lunch is more casual, and that can be split. But if you don’t pay for dinner you look cheap, and it will end up on The List.” I disagree with her in principle. The rule of etiquette is that the person who does the inviting pays. With the rise of equal rights for women, it’s pretty clear that women can’t expect both chivalry and equality. They can’t have it both ways. And in fact, they never did. In earlier times, the rule still held; a lady was simply more discreet and less direct about how she went about treating a man to a date. For instance, she’d repay a trip to a restaurant with a home-cooked meal, or she would tell a white lie about having been given theatre tickets by a relative. This is all straight out of Miss Manners. With that said, in practice, I almost always pick up the cheque. It’s generally not a great hardship, and while I know the rule, why stubbornly try to enforce it? I might be right, but I’d come off looking like a jerk in the process. It’s better to be laid than right. And right or wrong, you don’t want to be on The List.
3. Not that I’m talking about anyone in particular, of course.
4. Start on a dick joke, end on a dick joke.



7 Responses to “The List”

  1. 1 Riley

    Pinky winky?

    And I was under the impression that this Janet fellow was aware of the word “penes.” I was wrong, it would seem.

  2. 2 the other Peter

    The List,

    Hmmm makes me wonder if I’ve ever had a List written up against me. Of course I do know my ex, now-friend, Sue might very well read your blog Pete. I wonder if she ever made a List. (Here’s your chance Sue.)

    But isn’t the List fabricated hate? You don’t need a list if you broke up with them, only if they broke up with you. And isn’t the List only half of the Real List? The one with the minus and the plus column?

  3. Thanks to you (and Janet) for the great article … damn, The List!, had I thought of this earlier, it would have saved countless dollars in therapy!

  4. Riley: According to Janet, “pinky winky” is a deliberate word choice meant to evoke the image of a three-year-old’s weiner at bathtime. And from what I hear, that ain’t far from the truth.

    Peter: When you stopped working for our company, I totally had to make The List about you. It was the only way to stop the hurt and move on.

    Deborah: Janet will be touched to hear that. But hey, you’re perfectly fine!

  5. Ummm…does it really make Janet feel that much better to make lists of all of the repulsive physical and character flaws of people she chose to, like, sleep with? Because that would just make me feel worse about myself. But, being a guy, it’s nice to know I can be 76% gross (according to a recent quiz) and still get laid.

  6. It really does seem to make her feel much, much better.

    Added to The List today: Subject seen wearing denim vest so ugly that strangers broke off their conversation to glare at him in naked hostility.

  7. While I have heard of such a list, I never fully grasped what that might mean to the male animal. Although it seems attractively cheap and immature, most men would do better to avoid such expression. Aside from being labelled a “pussy”, there would quite probably be a literal pile of dead masculine bodies spanning the entire country.
    Honestly, most guys can deal with rumors about his tiny “pinky-winky”, but women can become a tad bit enraged by everyone hearing about how she farts in the bathtub.


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