For the past several years, my wife Michele and I have had a running debate about how much stuff to hold onto and whether or not to give away (or in some cases, throw away) some of the rarely used excess items lying around the house.
Michele has a long list of what she considers to be totally unnecessary items that are no longer being used, just taking up space, and should be given away. I’m cautiously optimistic to report that as of this writing, I am not one of the items on that list. But I suspect I’m on the bubble.
I totally agree with my wife that we have too much crap. It’s just that we can’t quite agree on whose crap needs to be jettisoned. For example, we have an entire freezer filled to the brim with frozen broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. I assure you, I will NEVER EVER eat any of these, so if it were my call, I would give all of these away to a needy broccoli-loving home.
But my wife, for reasons unfathomable to me, seems to be under the misguided notion that I’m the far guiltier party when it comes to holding onto things we don’t need. The example she often cites is the fact that I have taken up one full closet to stash memorabilia from my childhood. It consists of barely 25 boxes of papers, photos, art projects and other keepsakes dating back to first grade and continuing through graduate school. It includes important relics like a clay sculpture I made in first grade that looks like a rat but was supposed to be an elephant, my fourth grade social studies report on Uruguay, several high school term papers, and three boxes of letters from college ex-girlfriends.
My wife lamely brings up the minor detail that technically I have not opened up any of these boxes once in the past 30 years. That may be true, but I was planning on getting around to reviewing one box a month very soon – by which I mean whenever I have completely run out of ideas for other things to do in my life.
My wife rightly points out that I have literally dozens of shirts and pants filling up our bedroom closet that I haven’t worn in years (mainly because I can’t fit into any of them at the moment). But I’m planning on losing 40 pounds, and when I finally get down to my college weight, I’ll be so glad I held onto that lime green Nehru jacket and those lavender bell-bottom corduroy slacks for all these years.
Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’m seriously into sports of all kinds. The fact that I suck at most of them is beside the point. So, over the years, I’ve accumulated a large assortment of sporting equipment – some of which I actually have used. She pointed out that we never use our badminton set or our croquet set. “And why are you holding onto a second set of golf clubs?,” she rudely intoned the other day. “Because,” I reminded her, “what do I do if Barack Obama – who is a close personal friend of mine ever since we worked out together – came to visit and wanted to play golf?” You never know when you may need a backup set of clubs.
The list of items my wife wants me to give away is getting longer by the day. It includes such precious heirlooms as my Rock’em Sock’em Robots set which I got for Christmas in 4th grade (the red boxer still works). She also questions why I’m still holding onto my extensive assortment of 1980s movies on VHS – since we haven’t had a VHS player for years. But I will have you know I still have every Ace Ventura, Pet Detective movie Jim Carrey ever made.. And I’m sure you’d agree that my Director’s Cut VHS edition of Patrick Swayze’s cult classic Road House alone will be worth a small fortune someday.
For reasons I still don’t grok, my wife also feels there is no reason to keep my 1992 Casio keyboard. It’s true that I can’t remember the last time I played it. But now that I’m retired, I was planning on taking up piano again. I explained to my wife that it’s never too late to start a music career. I reminded her that Willie Nelson didn’t even take up singing until he was 58 years old. Imagine that! Okay, so technically that’s a lie, but my wife didn’t know that. And I needed this statistic to bolster my case to let me hold onto my Casio player.
She keeps harping about all the items she feels we should get rid of. But the door swings both ways. There are several items she still clings onto, like her voluminous inventory of art supplies – not to mention her closet full of dresses, blouses and jewelry – none of which I have worn in years. But you don’t see me telling her to throw out her cherished possessions. Because I am a considerate spouse.
I’m willing to meet my wife halfway. I’m open to compromise. Heck, I long ago stopped complaining when she kept putting the toilet paper rolls on the wrong way (under instead of over). I no longer bring up the fact that she still doesn’t know how to properly load the dishwasher. So, don’t tell me I’m not willing to be reasonable and accommodating.
But there’s a line in the sand my wife had better not cross. If she thinks for one second I’m going to let her throw out my three-feet-long stuffed animal whale named Maybe Dick that I got for my birthday in second grade, then she’s in for an ugly fight. I’d no sooner part with Maybe Dick than I’d let go of my priceless collection of life-size Simpsons action figures. My daughters will thank me someday.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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