Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The List of 52

Here on campus, students are facing final exams.  I'm not in the line of academic fire, but I can easily conjure up memories of packing my brain with a semester of facts to spill onto a blue book or into multiple-choice bubbles.  Strangely, my exam memories from freshman year are the most vivid: drawing up mnemonic devices on history outlines with Brite Line markers, making Matchbox 20's song "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell," my anthem before my Logic final, voicing sheepish prayers with my roommate that pleaded: "Jesus, please help me pass tomorrow. I'm sorry...I love you?!"  (I laugh out loud even choosing which of our antics to type, Sarah!)

One of my absolute favorites is The List of 52.  Sarah and I hosted our friends Kati and Stef for an extended sleepover in Memorial Hall, and one of the myriad of topics that we discussed was what kind of man we would someday like to marry.  Standard discussion, I know, for a teen girl squad.  Kati and Stef, from the University of Nebraska, had traveled to Benedictine with a list of characteristics they would like in a future spouse. Their list randomly ended at 52, and it was decided that Sarah and Tala would also create a list of 52.  We conveniently took up the task during finals week.

To assure our mothers and any potential suitors that we weren't expecting an unreachable ideal in a man, we generously titled the page:

The Fifty-Two Suggestions
(Not requirements, but positive characteristics that we look for in a guy.)  

I know. You're welcome.

I love this list. Most definitely not because I use it as a measuring tape for the men I know...a guy who perfectly fulfilled each of the 52 would be a freak show...but because it is Exhibit A when I need to be reminded of just how incredible my friends are.  I have friends who would still dream sweet dreams with me, like #21:

     21.  Knows how to dance sweet and cute dances like the waltz…or is willing to try.

I have friends who live out #6:

     6.  Loves Mary, prays the Rosary (with his eyes closed).

Or #37 - #44:

     37.  Doesn’t mind being in or smiling big in pictures.
     38.  Holds your hand.
     39.  Is gentle and strong.
     40.  Isn’t a quitter.
     41.  Looks at you differently than he looks at anyone else.
     42.  Feels comfortable to pray with you all the time.
     43.  Is able to lead without making you feel like a lesser person.
     44.  Can be flexible in bad situations, is a problem solver, doesn’t complain a lot.

It's clear when you read #33 that the list was written in a freshmen girls' dorm room, with year-round Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling and fake flower garlands draped over our bookcase:

     33.  Will tolerate girlie mixes on CD because he loves you, but doesn’t really like girlie mixes because that would be weird.

Maybe I feel older when I read it.  Maybe I feel the 8 years that separate me from the Year of the List...but I always agree with the girl who nodded in earnest when her best friend suggested #31:

     31.  Sings loudly at Mass (even if he has an ugly voice…especially if he has an ugly voice).

I wish you could have been there. It was a lovely time. The gravest issues in our personal lives included how our friend couldn't join us at the Caf because they froze his meal card when he forgot to pay his Perkin's loan.

And my roommate? As I wrapped the assorted bows from her bridal shower into a bouquet for the wedding rehearsal in 2009, we read the list to see how her fiancee Dan would fare.  We laughed and re-told the stories that always deserve a good re-telling.  Dan passed the test with flying colors while still steering clear of freak-show status, and I was reminded again that God knows the desires of our hearts. Even #49:

     49.  Can have a conversation with you using only your eyes. (*Caution: May involve appropriate winking.)


  1. Tala! I love it! :)
    I often think about how different my list would be now. Instead of "wears hats" I would definately put "is willing to eat leftovers."
    I'm so glad I found your blog!

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    My blog post ... http://trailertentguide.com