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Utility, Hoarding, and Laziness

Updated on February 23, 2012

Listen, House, This Planet Isn't Big Enough For the Both of Us

Seeing Clear of One's Debris
Seeing Clear of One's Debris

After years of dealing with spinal problems (and its current tenuousness condition), I wish I owned nothing but inflatable or wicker furniture, a small collection of clothes and a few kitchen utensils.

I used to hord everything. I once possessed 15 or 20 belts hanging in my closet, although I never used more than one or two -- as the others had gradually become too small to wear or were too funky. I once owned a white leather belt with a gold buckle, the width of which must have been three inches. A friend of mine referred to it as my "Elvis" belt. I think I only wore it three or maybe four times.

In the garage I now have a plastic box filled with ancient extension cords. (I once lived in a VERY old house that had almost no outlets -- and I had to run long extension cords everywhere.) I still have them, and they are useless because they were made before the plugs consisted of two different sized prongs.

I have three large Hefty bags full of yellowed underwear, dating back to the time when I would wait months before going to the laundromat. When I'd finally go, I'd fill up six washers. The T-shirts and briefs have gone through so many washings and heated dryings that they would fit a ten-year-old boy.

I have faded blue jeans with waist lines that are a good six inches too small for me now. The jeans are in good shape so I hate to just dump them, but what are my chances of ever shrinking to fit into them again?

I have a box filled with nothing but brown socks. A time came when it was impossible to find brown "dress" slacks to wear to work -- they simply fell out of fashion. Most of the socks are like new. Perhaps they will inadvertently become a kind of time capsule.

I have two pairs of brown shoes -- one pair of wing-tips and another stylish pair made in Italy -- both like new. The chances of my wearing either are become less plausible with each passing year.

I have a box of sweaters that are buried so deeply under other boxes that I never attempt to get into them.

I have another box filled with bathroom towels. It too is buried. Rather than spend any energy unearthing the box, I have kept one bath towel, one face towel, and one wash cloth in my bathroom for years -- washing them every few months or so.

I have a box of rubber bands that are so old that they are literally falling apart.

I have a spool of wire dating back to a 3-D design class in high school.

I have business cards I collected from various clients when I worked at Deloitte & Touche -- now at least twenty years old.

I have the controls to an electric blanket that has long since disappeared.

I have a full ream of heavy-weight "bond" paper for writing letters (or typing school essays), which I haven't touched since the advent of computer printers. The sheets are still clean, un-yellowed, pristine.

I have three generations of computer CPUs, bulky monitors, keyboards and mice.

And it goes on and on.

When it comes to such things as holding onto yellowed underwear, a spool of wire, rusting paper clips, none of it makes sense -- except at the back of my head, I think ... what if there is an Apocalypse? Wouldn't these pieces of trash be valuable then?

Yet, the reasoning is silly. If things ever get that bad, we'll be like starving wolves, killing each other for fresh water and scraps of food. What difference would it make if I had "clean" underwear for six months if I couldn't feed myself for a week?

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