The “Honeydew” List

 The “Honeydew” List

BY CAM RENAUD

This is not another gardening article. Although the honeydew list has characteristics similar to a melon – fast growing and symbolizing a harmonious marriage in your dreams, the list can remain in existence for all eternity – well your eternity anyway. The list could be considered like a weed, expanding and contracting with the seasons, demanding attention and you never seem to get rid of it completely. 

If you haven’t heard of this list, then you are either single or too young. The expression honeydew (sounds like honey do) has been around since the 1990s and was showcased in 2000 in the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as “honey could you do” …a chore request which if not completed in a timely manner was then added to a list of things to do for your endearing spouse or romantic partner. 

Despite its relatively recent formalization, the concept has likely been around since caveman days when one partner, likely the “better half”, saw the other as being idle. While either partner can originate a honey-do list, you could surmise – based on historical hunter-gatherer roles – that “he” was the hunter. Now, the thing with hunting is that you can get a larger animal and not have to hunt again for a while. On the other hand, gathering is a continual process. It’s easy to imagine the gatherer heading out each day, looking back over their shoulder at the lounging hunter and saying “honey, do clean up those bones while I’m out”. If the task didn’t get performed in a timely manner it might even have been added to a list on the wall of the cave (they didn’t have a fridge) which could possibly be the real origin behind those cave drawings. 

Cohabitation seems to be the catalyst for creating a honey-do list and it seems the longer you have cohabited the older and longer the list. Having cohabited for the past 35 years I am somewhat experienced in these matters. Although I am often satisfied with my surroundings, my significant other has a continuous improvement perspective. Of course, your habitat will automatically generate chores but maintenance of certain things like lawn care seems to default naturally to one person or the other, so isn’t necessarily on the honey-do list. 

Now that you know the origin of the list, let’s look at dealing with the items on the list. Be aware that quickly performing listed tasks can be self-defeating; remember the list never ends. Crossing off an item just means there’s space for a new entry. You may need specific skills or extra cash for some items. If you can’t perform the required tasks to the satisfaction of the list keeper, you may need to locate and hire someone else’s honey and pay them before the item can be crossed off. Being a handy person myself, I prefer to spend the money on the proper tools versus hiring someone. As a result, I have accumulated a fine array of tools and can therefore deal with most items. However, I also want to point out that if you are a handy person and know what end of the paintbrush to hold, your list will be more active than otherwise and you may be recruited to help a friend or neighbor with their list. I draw the line at safety preferring to hire someone to go 25 feet up a ladder to paint the side of my house. 

I also learned that any hobby you have that doesn’t involve your partner does not excuse you from having a list, although I did devise an informal point system based on the time and complexity of the tasks. My wife and I agreed that applying technical skills or specialized knowledge would earn bonus points which can be redeemed later for certain guilt-free indulgences. 

So in the end, the best tip is not to lament the perpetual list. Use your imagination and add motivating rewards (wink wink) to your honey-do list and you’ll both be sooo happy!