Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Unimportant List

by Alyssa Verner

In high school, I had a teacher who would say that someone or something "just made it to the top of [her] Unimportant List." I thought it was a great phrase, and my best friend Debbie and I actually started an Unimportant List.

Adding a thing or situation to The List was a way of recognizing that it wasn't worth our time, energy, or disappointment. It was cathartic to recognize it and move on. Debbie recently gave me a copy of The List, and over the past fifteen years, we've added an astounding 252 things.

It's interesting to see the chronology. In 1998, we were in high school, and it was mostly schoolwork and the frustrations of the cafeteria. There are a few things high school classmates did on there and neither of us even remember who they are. Life really DOES exist after high school. For example:

7. Essays and Hamlet and Heart of Darkness and St. Joan and Beowulf and summer reading and understanding poetry and analyzing it to death (Note: I actually like all of this literature now. Except Heart of Darkness--that still sucks.)
21. The lunch lady who acts all stingy with the apple juice.

This continued through 1999, as we prepared to go to college. I applied early decision to JMU, and even though I was eventually accepted, I was angry at the first rejection.

34. James Madison University

Then there were the college years:

80. People who puke in the elevators
84. Fire drills
88. My college boyfriend that broke up with me over instant messenger
128. Professors who don't make finals "non-cumulative"
129. The deviants at Virginia Tech who stole the toaster from the kitchen
145. 8 o'clock classes
179. mtv2 for always playing commercials

Usually the entries are funny, but one stands out. September 14, 2001:

159. Terrorists

After college, of course we got jobs, paid taxes, found places to live, and endured commuting:

213. Debbie's Leasing Office (except for their cookies)
216. Route 3 and I-95
220. Use of poor grammar
226. House prices that no reasonable salaried person/couple can afford in their lifetime
233. Anyone who creates more work for me
236. Congress
246. Beautiful weather on workdays

It makes me wonder what will end up on The List in the next decade. I'm going to guess things like dealing with insurance companies or having medical procedures. It's interesting how something SO important at the time is so insignificant now.

And finally, can things come off The List? Yes--they frequently do. What the heck were we thinking with these?

91. Mexican food
94. New Orleans
133. Starbucks hot chocolate
169. Flared pants

And so, not to put too fine a point on it, but there is a lot to be said for maturity, for forgiveness, for being grateful, and finally, for delicious, delicious tacos.

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