Maeve Higgins: My ideal. . . list


I was in my room the other day, wondering which hormones were controlling my thoughts. I hoped that oestrogen wasn’t ruling me, but I couldn’t be sure. I wept at the thought that I may never find out.

Then, I considered how much of a say testosterone has in my life. Again, I could not tell. I grew surly and punched a hole clean through the wall. Suddenly tired, I decided instead to imagine the ideal list.

Hey Sweetie, come over here. Yes, I mean you – don’t be bashful. And don’t say a goddamn word, just place your trembling hand in mine and we’ll follow this trail of potato peelings up the candlelit stairs. You see, I’ve chosen you. I want you to see my room. Here we are, now pull back the bolt. Adjust the dimmer switch and tell me – what is it you see? No, not the slippers shaped like pints. I mean the lists. Lists everywhere, lists writ large straight onto the wall, scrawled leggily along the wooden shelves and hunched tinily, all over a thousand scraps of paper. It’s funny, if you didn’t know this room was mine, you’d think it belonged to a maniac.

Some of the lists aren’t even mine. I just found them on the ground. My favourite is a shopping list saying bananas, Sunshimmer, nappies and bananas again. It’s written on the back of a budget plan from a debt management charity. Now that’s a shopping list so moving you could set it to music.

A more pathetic writer than I would make a joke here about a Chopin Liszt but I couldn’t bear to. I’d hate myself for it and why would I deliberately do something to make me hate myself? Why? That was rhetorical. Why not? Curiously, that one was not rhetorical.

I need you to call out a response on Saturday morning at around quarter past 11, maybe as you wait for your eggs to bake, I will listen for it then.

When people are told they’re going to die soon (which is a jerk move by doctors and the universe) they sometimes make a bucket list of everything they wish they’d done – have lemon meringue pie for breakfast, kiss everyone, punch a dolphin – that kind of thing. You don’t have to wait for permission from the medical community to make one – I’ve got a bucket list on the go as we speak.

I’m writing this with a fountain pen, like I’ve always meant to, and I’m totally going to have fish fingers for tea.

To do lists burn me up – the day hurtles on, each hour transforming the to dos into a parade of not dones. The ideal list is a close relation of the to do list, and that is the done list.

My dream list is one of words said and actions taken, chats had and jobs finished – not bossy and grasping, not recorded until afterwards, just what happens in a life’s day.

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