I didn’t realize I had a List. OK. Maybe I did realize it, subconsciously. But The List itself is never in the forefront of my thoughts. Unless, of course, the name of someone on The List is spoken out loud.
Then all bets are off.
“I ran into so-and-so today,” my husband said, pleasantly, as he munched on popcorn in front of the TV.
“Hate her guts,” I responded in an equally pleasant tone.
Mark choked on a kernel and let me have it.
“Really, Michelle? That was 10 years ago! No one can hold a grudge longer than you can.”
“What can I say? She was mean to our kid.”
Yes, our only son was in grade school at the time. And yes, he’s 19 now. But as I recall, so-and-so said and did things I found hurtful to my child. Therefore, she is a lifer on The List. If you are a mom, you understand.
My husband is not a mom.
“I know you have a List,” Mark informed me, which is how I got the idea for this column. Then he started listing the names of people he thinks are on The List. To his credit, he guessed six out of 10 names correctly. The other four have received pardons over the years. Their names have been replaced by other names, but I didn’t tell him that.
Truth be told, it takes a lot to get on The List. Being mean to someone I love will put you there in a hurry. Phoniness, dishonesty and cruelty to children or animals will also make you List-worthy. Come to think of it, I have a sub list of those not-yet listed but on their way. This waiting list is fairly long. So I guess my husband is right. I can hold a grudge.
“You really need to get over this list thing,” Mark said. “It’s unhealthy.”
“So is eating salty popcorn,” I said and smiled. “Ask any cardiologist.”
Mark doesn’t like grudges, but he does like popcorn. As I suspected, he changed the subject in a hurry.
“What’s wrong with forgive-and-forget?” you may ask. Well, in most cases, I believe in forgiving — just not forgetting. My late mother was a forgiver, not a forgetter. Did she have a list like mine? If so, she never spoke of it.
But I like to think my great memory came from somewhere.
And so I submit to you during this Christmas season that lists are good things, not bad. Like Santa Claus, we should all keep track of who’s naughty and nice. In the words of the late, great Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
And in the words of the still-living Michelle Meehan Schrader: “Make a mental note of it. You’ll be glad you did.”