The List Is A Lie

You’re not going to believe me when I tell you this.  But that’s OK.  I can take it.  And I realize that by sharing this nugget I may bring disappointment to your lives.  I may even betray the trust of every reader of this blog who is in a committed relationship.  So be it.  It has to be said.  I am compelled by the laws of nature to reveal what I now know.  In fact, I share this information not to hurt you, but to enlighten you.  So today I tell you, dear reader… The list is a lie.

You know what I’m talking about.  Male or female.  Married or single.  We all have one.  Some of us discuss our lists among close friends.  Others of us keep the list a secret.  Our list tells so much about us.  Sometimes embarrassing.  Sometimes surprising.  Always entertaining.

The Celebrity Crush List

My wife and I have a pact.  If anyone on my Celebrity Crush List shows up to the front door and asks me to go out with them to dinner, she must, by the Law of Husbands and Wives, allow me to go.  Even if I have to pay.

Reciprocally, if I were to die in a freak accident, I must, according to the Law of Husbands and Wives, bless the new marriage of my wife to anyone on her Celebrity Crush List.  Even if my lifeless body has yet to cool.

Yes.  This stuff makes for fascinating table conversation.

The lists themselves are quite interesting.  For guys, a “published list” usually includes your run-of-the-mill supermodels, singers or actresses.  These are the safe names to debate during a Guy’s Night Out at your local sports bar.  No chance of ridicule.  For me, this includes:

1.  Ashley Judd

2.  Halle Berry

Then there are the list-dwellers who are known by description only.

3. That woman on Modern Family who plays the wife of the guy who used to play Al Bundy

But every guy’s list also contains a surprise entry.  The name that they are afraid to share for fear of being ostracized from the pack.  Usually it’s some obscure local celebrity, a non-sexy lady, scientist, politician, childhood crush or cartoon character.  These names rarely surface, unless by mistake.  For me, this includes:

4. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld)

5. Ellen DeGeneres

6. Wonder Woman

7. Julia Child

To my wife’s credit, all of these women, save for Ellen, have dark hair just like Gabby.  Still, with the Julia Child reference, Gabby has a fear that any mildly attractive, scantily-clad woman showing up to our doorstep holding a moist chocolate cake could be cause for concern.

A girl’s list, on the other hand, has no constraints.  They’ll share the names on their list with anyone.  There are no secrets.  After watching The Last King of Scotland, which is a fantastic film, I noticed that our Netflix became populated with all sorts of utterly unwatchable movies starring James McAvoy.

Guess who’s on Gabby’s list.

*  I can do pouty, too, James.

The best part about her list is that there isn’t a single beefcake to be found anywhere.  Like all my women with dark hair, her list is a veritable Who’s Who of skinny, pasty white guys.  And women, unlike men, seem to understand that such a list can be populated by less-than-attractive people, proving the sitcom cliché of pairing a beautiful wife with a very dopey, dorky husband has basis in reality.  I give you Exhibit A:  Gabby’s List.

James McAvoy (whom you have already met)

Jon  Stewart (whom she calls her Jewish TV Husband)

David Sedaris (whom she calls her Jewish writer husband)

Ira Glass (whom she calls her Jewish NPR Radio host husband)

Michael Vartan (whom I had to look up on Google.  Probably converting to Judaism)

Gabby has all of these fellas on speed dial in the unlikely event that I get run over by a combine.  She’s a practical gal, after all.

Just last Thursday, I had the good fortune of getting a free upgrade while traveling on business.  They booted me up to First Class.  Lucky me!  It is no doubt due to my frequent travel and doe-eyed flirtation with the ticket agent who thought I looked like Anthony Michael Hall.  You know.  Farmer Ted from the movie Sixteen Candles.

He’s probably on her list.

I settled into my seat in 5A, feeling a little guilty as I sipped my pre-flight Diet Coke that the attendant so graciously brought me.  I learned that you can work up quite a thirst waiting for all of those poor schlubs to make their way back to their seats in coach.

Just when it looked like every passenger had boarded the plane, one more lonely soul walked in.  She looked familiar.  Her eyes darted back and forth between the overhead bins as she looked for a place to store her rolling suitcase.  She wore a pair of khaki casual pants, an orange t-shirt, and a gray hoodie.

Must be someone from Gabby’s Mom’s Club. I thought.

Three men jumped from their seats in First Class to help her hoist her bag into the bin.  So eager!  As they did this, she quickly turned her head toward the floor, looking for something.  She darted just past my row, reached down, and picked up something.  Then I heard her say to the men.

“Thank you so much.”

That voice.  Where have I heard that voice?  Oh… my goodness!  It can’t be!

That’s right.  The woman I thought was a member of my wife’s Mom’s Club was none other than Ashley Judd.  The Ashley Judd.  Famous actress.  Spokesmodel.  Wife of a Formula One racecar driver.  Numero Uno on my Celebrity Crush List.  Within stalking distance.

I think I aspirated an ice cube.

But she wasn’t standing on my doorstep asking me out.  Instead, she stood there looking very normal.  Like someone I might ask to borrow a Wet Wipe on the playground.  But it wasn’t her appearance that dealt a crushing blow to my Celebrity Crush List dreams.  No.  As Julia Child would attest, looks aren’t everything to me.

It was what she was holding.

A dog prop.

I’m not sure what your stance is on animals, but I’m one of those guys who believes that dogs are meant to be dogs.  Outside.  Fetching sticks.  Eating dry kibble.  Sleeping on the floor.  Dogs aren’t meant to go shopping.  Or to day care.  Or the spa.  Or be carried in purses.

And here was my dinner date clutching a tiny doglet in her famously beautiful arms.

I envisioned my night on the town with Ashley Judd.  We would make small talk.  I’d ask her about her movies.  She’d ask about my family.  I’d ask her if she was going to finish her dessert.  She’d say no.  I’d stuff my face.  She would be enamored by my healthy appetite for sweets.

Then she’d pull a dog out of her purse.

I’d get annoyed and irritated.  She’d start asking about my obsession with the number seven.  I’d take offense.  She would ask why I was so defensive.  I would then tell her how I thought her dog belonged at home in her back yard.  She’d get upset.  I’d take seven drinks of my Fresca and leave.  Only to arrive home and find Gabby criticizing Michael Vartan for never scrubbing a single toilet in our entire house.


‘Cuz that’s how the list works.  It’s all a lie.  The fantasy can never measure up to the real thing.

And the real thing is what we have.  If you’re in a relationship, it’s likely messy.  And exhilarating.  And irritating.  And peaceful.  And mundane.  And joyous.  What makes it work isn’t the fact that it fits so nicely into some sanitized package.  No.  What makes it work is the commitment.  The no-holds-barred giving of yourself to another person, heart and soul.  It’s knowing all of each other’s quirks and loving them.  Even the annoying ones.  Because that’s what makes the love of your life the love of your life and not someone else’s.  And remembering the beauty of being accepted for who you are.  Getting a small taste of the love God promised, served up by your soul mate.

But it’s even more than that.  It’s feeling lucky that you get to walk through the world, sharing it with someone else, and learning, growing and changing together.  For better or worse.  In sickness and in health.  Till death do you part.

And so here I am.  Off on another business trip.  But I won’t be here for long.  Headed home tomorrow night.  Upgraded to First Class with God-knows-who.  Soon to be seated back home on the couch, snuggling up next to my wife.  Watching some unwatchable James McAvoy movie.