It’s possible that the idea of a Celebrity Cheat List—five or so famous people that otherwise monogamous couples give a free pass on—predates season 3 episode 5 of Friends, aka The One With Frank Jr., aka the one where Ross meets Isabella Rossellini after opting not to put her on his list. But that’s a strong enough cultural touchstone, and do you really want to bother with a history lesson when we could be talking about sex? Still don’t know what I’m referring to? Watch Chandler explain it with helpful closed captioning right here, we’ll wait.
Now that we’ve got that cleared up: Is this a real thing? Like, at all? When I asked the Future Mr. Keyser (not actually what we decided), he handled it very calmly.
I appreciate his nonchalance, even if it wasn’t actually a test. But what would we have done if he’d said yes? And does anyone ever? Do you make a real written list? Do you get it laminated? Has anyone with such a list ever gone through with the implied intercourse? Why hasn’t Judd Apatow made a movie about a charming schlub who accidentally impregnates his celebrity freebie after a night of escapist abandon, and then he, his impossibly understanding wife, and the knocked-up A-lister—who has always wanted kids, but couldn’t find the right guy amid her jet-setting lifestyle—muddle through together, learning something about family, adulthood, and what they really want out of life through it all?
I imagine, even if both parties agree to it, the List is all about a shared fantasy in which permission is the only thing keeping you from sexing up a super-hot celebrity. And in that way, I guess it can be kind of sweet? “Oh yes, definitely put Natalie Portman on your list, honey, she’d be lucky to have you. What’s that? She’s married too? Doesn’t matter—I’m sure you’re on her list!”
Does access matter? If you pick someone not-quite-famous-enough, does it feel a little more real, and thus a little more threatening? My job is sports-adjacent—and has been for a number of years—and even though I don’t exactly party with a bunch of athletes, I have a feeling my fiancé would be a little less comfortable with me choosing someone I’d seen naked in a locker room than a movie star I have no hope of meeting.
But even speculating on potential listees, I’m far more interested in baseball players than male models, if only because I’d like to think we’d have something in common. You know, for the pillow talk. I’m not going to hang Tim Lincecum’s 2010 New Year’s Edition Sports Illustrated cover on various bedroom walls for all these years and not give him a spot on The List. Does it make it better or worse if I’ve since decided we’d actually hate each other in person?
In theory, it’s fun, funny, a way to flatter each other. But any attempts to make it at all serious seems so fraught, as with all conversations about marital fidelity or lack thereof. And so, I have to think there aren’t any couples that really have such a list. But maybe I’m wrong.