Friday, May 09, 2014

Marriage 601, Lecture 85: Hoarders, redux

So the other day, I was moving some winter clothes from downstairs to the guest room, which serves as my overflow room. I was moving winter clothes in the vain hope that if I get rid of the winter clothes, I will not need them any more, which is stupid, because there is no surer way to bring snow than to put your shovels away. SH and I have learned that sad lesson.

Still. I was moving my clothes.

There is chest of drawers in the guest room where we put our sweaters and long  underwear. Right now, it holds summer clothes.

But as I removed my summer clothes (hello, tennis skirts!) and tried to install my winter clothes, I realized there was just not enough room. How could that be? I have been switching in and out of this dresser for six years.

But so has SH. And I realized that with each season, he has annexed a little more space. In three different places, he had boxer shorts that were still in their original packaging.

This dresser is not the staging area for never-worn clothes. If you buy new underwear, then some of the old underwear has to go. That's the rule. Everyone knows the rule. You don't buy new underwear and keep using the old underwear and keep the new underwear upstairs for a Special Occasion.

SH is not doing it right.

I also noticed blue jeans.

SH just bought two new pairs of jeans to go with the several pairs he already owns and keeps downstairs. Why are there other jeans up here? Jeans are not season specific. There is no reason to store jeans in the off-season dresser.

I yelled at him. "Can I give these jeans to charity?"

I already had a big pile on the floor for Goodwill. My rule is that if I have not worn the item in five years, it's not going to happen. It is time for those size six jeans to go. I will never be ten pounds lighter again. I just won't. I am married and living in hostile territory, i.e., an environment with cheese and frozen custard and cookies.

That is my dilemma: I want to be thinner, but I already  have a husband - a husband who tells me all the time that he likes how I look, so why do I need to reach a weight that I consider attractive and optimal?

Can someone explain that to me, please? I still get looks from men, especially when I wear my orange skirt and my black jacket that ties at the waist and gives me an hourglass shape that I do not actually possess. So why do I care about those ten pounds?

Time for the jeans to go.

And a lot of other stuff I haven't worn in the past two years and I am not going to wear. That is my decision rule: If I haven't worn it in the past two years, it doesn't matter how much I like it (and if I really liked it, why haven't I worn it?), it is gone.

There. A decision rule for keeping or discarding. This is not hard.

But SH panicked. "No!!!!!!!" he yelled from his office. "DO NOT GET RID OF ANY OF MY STUFF!"

"Come on!" I said. "You haven't worn this stuff!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOO!" he shouted again. "DO NOT TOUCH MY STUFF!"

I went into his office. "You are hogging all the room."

"I don't have time to deal with this now," he said. "You will have to ask me sometime when I'm prepared to make a decision."

"You are never prepared to make a decision!" I said.

"When you don't know what to do, the best decision is to make no decision," he stated.

"You are so wrong. No wonder you never get anything done! You won't make a damn decision!"

"Don't touch my stuff," he warned.

Later that evening, I asked him. "Why is this so hard for you?"

"Why is it so easy for you?" he countered.

"I have had to move too many times," I said. "I am not attached to my things. It's just stuff."

"But your mom has stuff."

"My mother is nowhere near your mom and dad. My mom has stuff, but it is organized. Your parents are hoarders. The only reason they haven't put things on the ceiling is it's too hard for them to get up there."

"I am not as bad as my mom and dad."

"No, you are a lot better. Their house is a disaster. But our house would be bad if I didn't fight you every day on this."

"But I get nostalgic about my things! I might want to look at them. I like opening an old box and remembering, 'I used to work on this!'"

I shook my head. "I completely do not understand that at all. I have two boxes and that includes things from second grade. But only two boxes. You have stuff all over."

He continued. "I look at my old clothes and remember how much I liked wearing them and I think I might be able to fit into them again someday and maybe even wear them again."

I shook my head again. "We are nothing alike. You know that if you die first, I am throwing all your stuff away, right?"


Marilyn Leslie said...

So funny. When I was first married I went through our closet and got rid of things that neither my husband or myself wore.
One of the things I gave away was a hideous maroon polyester blazer
that he never wore. He was devastated. His mom had bought that blazer for him. it was another 20 tears before I was allowed to go through his clothes!

Gracie's Mom said...

My friend had this problem with her husband until after 25 years she just started going through boxes and donating things to charity. She waited until he was out of town on business and had a clear out every time he left. Her husband to this day has never missed one item that was given away! I'm not saying you should do this, but.......

shopalot said...

This made me laugh so hard. The part about saving undies for Special Occasion is hysterical. I recognize myself as I am a wee bit of a hoarder. My family jokes that one day I will be found dead under a pile of cardigans.

Artsy in Boulder (Debbie) said...

In an unusual turn of events, today I find myself identifying more closely w/SH. I realized that although in general I am happy to find new homes for items that are either unused or tainted by the Miasma of the Past, I am an underwear hoarder. I probably have 60-80 pairs, actually in rotation. How can this be? (And I hasten to add that 95% of these are beige or black Practical, not Special Occasion, garments.) To look at me, you would not think, "It must be nigh to impossible for this woman to find panties that do not sad, ride up, or create all kinds of boa-constrictor panty lines worthy of the Mason-Dixon divide." Yet it is true. Consequently, whenever I find "delicates" that work, I hoard them (but not in their packaging). Because we all know that as soon as we find the perfect thing, sadistic designers/manufacturers will immediately discontinue them. I don't really know why it's so hard to discard the limp and listless battle-weary outliers.

And don't get me started on the bike shorts. TAH (who would rather touch a dirty counter than buy--or think about--new clothing), instructed me that the time had come for new ones. I obligingly found some--and yay they were actually flattering, miracle of spandex miracles. So. Bike is still in basement (we're about to get 10 inches of snow tomorrow) on trainers, where I spin and watch "Castle." What do I do…do I use the new bike shorts? No. I wear the old, sprung-elastic ones. Why? I am saving the new ones for outdoor use. Did I mention the bike is still in the basement…?

webb said...

I totally feel your pain. Mitchell has way more than twice the closet and drawer space that i have - and don't letme start on shoes. He has a complete set of everything in three sizes - ggood grief! When he dies Goodwill will be ecstatic and i have people in mind to help me cart it all out!

Don't know what the answer is, but will let you know if i stumble over it.

Class factotum said...

Marilyn, my friend Laura advised me that things have to be "lost at the cleaners."

Gracie's Mom, I am convinced that SH would not miss 99% of what I would toss. But he has a memory like an elephant and the day I throw away his employee manual from Apple, where he worked over 20 years ago, is the day he wants it for something.

Shopalot, you must have storage space! And no, I do not count the basement as a place for storing clothes, the way SH does.

Debbie, I do understand the idea of buying two of something like jeans or white shirts. I would like to know more about the miracle of flattering bike shorts, though.

Webb - I have never heard of a man keeping fat clothes!

Artsy in Boulder (Debbie) said...

Yes, the concept of flattering bike shorts is like a Zen koan--impenetrable to the logical mind. The shorts in question succeed through the miracle of proper proportion (rise hits my waist properly, length of shorts hits at flattering point on my thighs), adequate compression (but nothing like Spanx), and a chamois that doesn't make me waddle or look like I'm wearing Depends. Plus there's a diagonal slash of turquoise the does the same thing as those illusion dresses of the last year or two or three.
And I hasten to add that I have excellent explanations/rationalizations for the scope of my underwear collection, many of which I'm sure you would appreciate ;)