List Off



The list. Useful aide-memoire or depressing reminder? Declaration of achievement or shameful inclusion? Lists are all around. Shopping lists, lists of chores, the top ten selling musical artists of all-time list, the list of stock and shares available to trade, the list of places you have visited, the list of places you wish to visit, the list of past lovers, the bucket list of desired activities to complete before you shuffle off this mortal coil.


“Give me a list of what you need and I will get those things for you. “

“Yes, you are on the list, come on in.”

“Your company is now listed on the stock exchange.”

“Congratulations, you are on the shortlist.”

“I am afraid we are full for the next three months, shall I put you on the waiting list?”

“The injury list is growing longer, I’m not sure what we should do.”

“The list of missing children is of considerable concern.”

The list is a powerful device. Astonishing really when you think that it is just words placed one after the other, or number, or a combination of both. As you would expect, such a powerful tool will not go unnoticed by our kind. We use the list with considerable effect in three distinct ways.




  1. The Magic List

You will know this list but you have never seen it. In fact, do not hold out any hope that you will ever see it. You are not allowed to look upon it because it does not exist to you, but that does not stop us having considerable reliance upon it. This is the list which we seem to have remarkably memorised and we can produce at a moment’s notice to use against you. It is a compendium of all the things which you have done wrong, the things you have failed to do correctly and is used to deflect attention away from our shortcomings. You accuse me of flirting with someone of the opposite sex at a party, guess what? I can reel off ten instances of you flirting, giving people the come on, behaving like a tart and flashing “come hither” looks at people. I will list occasions and names as you flap and flail seeking to deny them. Deny them you might because invariably they are invented or at best they have been subjected to a different interpretation applied by us. When we accuse you of flirting with someone else what we really mean is that you were not paying attention to us. If we suggest you had eyes only for the party’s host, we mean we were sick of not being the centre of attention. No matter. This invisible list is good for all occasions and its subject matter is wide and varied. Blame us for the meal burning. Here’s ten culinary disasters caused by you. Accuse us of not getting home on time, have a dozen instances of you being a dirty stop out. Anything you can say, I can list longer.


  1. The Vanishing List

This is the cousin of the magic list. The Vanishing List is any list which you attempt to use against us. Should you ever attempt to apply a litany of transgressions against us then each and every instance never happened, has not been remembered correctly and is out and out fabrication. This is so extensive that the list you can apparently recall vanishes in an instant and has no standing. Everything on your list does not apply to us. If you have the bare-faced cheek of actually writing down a charge sheet to level at us, then the vanishing doctrine is still applicable. The physical list remains but any validity or applicability that it has automatically vanishes as soon as the words are spoken. You cannot make anything stick to us. The accusations disappear in a puff of smoke and your list either vanishes or its intended effect does. Either way, we can continue our blameless existence. Now, as for you, well, trying to impose a list on you means that we will produce the Magic List or opt for the controlling application of the Commanding List.


  1. The Commanding List

You are in trouble now. The Magic List is usually produced as a defensive measure which is used to deflect your attacks against us, wind you up and ensure we remain unaccountable. The Commanding List is pre-meditated. It is used in an offensive capacity and because it is written down, it is extremely important. We will tell you that we need to talk or that there is something that needs to be discussed. We will appear serious and lecturing in our manner, reinforcing our general view that we are superior to you. We will sit you down and sit opposite as we produce the piece of paper and carefully unfold it, smooth it out and then read a list of things that we command you to do. These are not accusations. Those usually reside on the Magical List. The Commanding List is a compilation of things we deem necessary for you to do. It is a hurtful reminder of how we regard you; subservient and subject to our demands. This list must be obeyed otherwise sanctions will follow. Sometimes those sanctions are expressed, sometimes they are insinuated and other times they are not even mentioned but they will happen. The purpose of this list is to make you feel like a criminal with a sentence being read out. They are not charges. These are not accusations. These are based on (our) solid facts and this, in our patronising and paternalistic approach, is what we have decided what is best for you. There is no discussion and no negotiation. We are telling you. The content of the Commanding List varies but here are ten items I like to include when it is used.


  1. You will seek therapy for your addiction to men. Your flirting, sluttish ways and overall embarrassing behaviour is being talked about by other people. It must be addressed.
  2. You will see a doctor about your attention-seeking behaviour. Too often events are spoiled by you making a show of yourself.
  3. All financial matters are to be handled by me. You profligate spending is out of control
  4. You are to obey a curfew for a one-month period to establish trust. You are to remain at the house between 6pm and 6am.
  5. You will no longer have anything to do with Sarah and Paula. They are a bad influence on you.
  6. You will provide me with all passwords to all electronic devices so I can monitor your activity for signs of infidelity.
  7. You will ensure the house is cleaned and tidied each day so that when I return I feel like I am walking into a show home. You have let things slide.
  8. You will not drink for a period of three months in order for you to accept you have a problem with alcohol.
  9. All house visitors must be cleared with me at least 48 hours in advance to ensure my down time is not unnecessarily uninterrupted.
  10. When I am in the study I am not to be disturbed for any reason.

A selection of these dictats and others enables a clear message to be sent out and when you are the middle of the devaluation, exhausted and disorientated, these demands will often be met in order to try to achieve some respite from the ongoing campaign of horrible treatment.

Accordingly, lists play a useful role in the exercise and maintenance of our power. Now, you must excuse me, I need to make another list. This one is headed Prospective Targets, I am going to the study to compose this list as it requires some thought, remember number ten.

13 thoughts on “List Off

  1. Yo says:

    My overall conclusion: if “list” thing starts, take ur legs in ur hands and run away.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Wise words Yo, wise words. May I just point out though, if you have picked up your legs, how are you going to run? Maybe roll away instead?

  2. 1jaded1 says:

    Curfew? Mine tried father things and I told him I only had one dad. I offered to pay for a DNA test and told him that it might get pretty awkward at the clinic when they asked for our ages.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Ha ha good response.

  3. mlaclarece says:

    See, here’s where I get combative. For any list item JN would throw at me, I’d dig in my memory vault and have my own iron-clad list of dated offenses that required his improved behavior. It’s probably why after the first year, he opted for the silent treatment route.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Tell me more Clarece. Would you say something and he would counter with his “magic list”? You then produced your list. Who won in this battle of the lists? Did he allow you to speak? Did he talk over you? How did you force your list through to him? Did you apply some other technique to ensure your list was heard over his? Or maybe he was letting the side down by allowing you to reel off from your list? I’m interested to know how it panned out as evidently you landed some kind of blow which caused him to shift manipulation to a silent treatment.

      1. mlaclarece says:

        Any type of “list exchanges” happened via texting or Skype calls and or messaging thru Skype where it’s easier to send longer messages. Any time I was with him in person, we got along – splendidly. And I would always try to make it more memorable than the last time in the hopes to not return to the status quo of he will cause a fight, blame it on me and pull away and go silent for 1-4 weeks.
        The few times he initiated a list, would be after he would push me to the brink and I would finally pop off. Depending on how bad the grievance was determined how I sent my message. If furious, I would just blow up his phone with several cutting remarks until he would get enraged and retort back with his commands or ultimatums. If I was still trying to appeal to his sensibilities with a more sensitive approach, he would get a longer letter type of message over Skype. More or less with me pleading to stop the push / pull games. Either way, I learned he used these types of exchanges to extract information from me that many times would resurface at a later date.
        Twice with Skype calls, one time when I clearly had the upper hand rattling off some inconsiderate acts actually in a calm, non-emotional voice he just hung up, ended the call. Then 5 minutes later, texted, “Not what I expected. That’s not hot.” So he prepared me for the silent treatment I got for punishment.
        After the 4th of July incident where he stood me up for the hotel weekend, I still drove 2 hours up straight to his house to talk and try to understand why he was doing these things. He would not come out of his house. Refused to. Said rather texted, that he would drive down to me 2 days later, then stood me up again. There was silence for a month but obviously when he hoovered I desperately wanted answers. This was about the time I first discovered your blog. We had a Skype call and I gently, calmly tried asking how he could not even come out of his house to talk to me. I got the coldest, blankest stare without an ounce of emotion. That reptilian look you’ve described. Then he got up and walked off away from the screen for about 2 minutes. When he returned, he started a new conversation about something completely different. But by then I was trying to match his behaviors with things I was reading from you and still in shock how much it was matching up. So I went with the flow and talked about what he wanted.
        If I really want him to know something I’m upset about, I will message via voice or text. If I’m desperately pushed, he now gets i will drive straight to his house. Or, I snooped and got his work email and will message him there if the offense is huge and I want his attention. His work emails are monitored and it strikes his status pillar that I got that and can reach out that way. That’s my technique. Finding out which way he doesn’t want to hear from me and throwing him off balance. But if I felt I won, I wouldn’t be here now would I?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Most interesting to read and I am pleased with the way you have married what has happened with what you have now discovered. More power to your elbow (or perhaps that should be your typing fingers?!)

          1. mlaclarece says:

            The power of words leave a lasting impression! Thank you!

  4. Leilani says:

    Commander on ship. I find the last paragraph amazing and funny although it is all so true.

  5. Yo says:

    Amazing. Thank u.

  6. Cara says:

    My mother’s Magic List of things I’ve done wrong…the only thing “magic” about it is the additions she makes to it without my knowledge that I’ve done anything.

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