Saturday, August 16, 2008

Some People's Junk...

In many ways, Bob and I are very similar. We don’t tend to bother ourselves with the sorts of things that take up most Americans’ time, like clean, show-room-worthy cars or living room furniture carefully chosen and color-coordinated to match the window treatments. Nope. We are perfectly content to sit around in a house full of mismatched hand-me-down furniture (some of which makes our friends who are educated in such matters green with envy, because it’s so old, we probably ought to be featured on The Antiques Road Show every week, and other stuff that makes the same friends wonder which dump we like to frequent) and not so-gently-used books, our feet leaving marks in the dust on the unfinished and broken coffee tables on which they are propped. We couldn’t care less about having a yard that could be featured on the cover of House and Garden, if it means time spent in the hot sun doing backbreaking work instead of time spent lounging around with open books in our hands.

However, somewhere we part ways. Somewhere, I seem to be able to distinguish between a pair of jeans that could really be called a pair of threads, and a pair of jeans that shouldn’t be worn in public but is perfectly good for those horrible days when one finally decides that the kitchen and bathroom floors really must be mopped. Bob, on the other hand, thinks that a shirt that is basically missing a sleeve and half its back still has some use to it, and not as a rag, but as something that can be worn for, oh, raking leaves, or mopping the front porch – places where he’s likely to be seen by others. He will pull an old napkin buried deep in a drawer somewhere to the surface, examine it’s blotchy stains and frayed edges, and while I’m thinking, “Now why didn’t I throw out that old thing when we moved?” say, “Oh, look. It’s this nice old napkin we haven’t used in forever.”

I’ve decided I’m married to Don Quixote. Not only are those windmills dragons that must be fought, but that broken and rusted lamp is quite obviously a Tiffany original that just needs a bulb to be as good as new. I dread ever going up into the attic with him, which is full of things we’ve never bothered to unpack from the move, because they never should have been packed and brought with us in the first place. When Bob goes up, he comes back down with stuff I’d rather forget we have, stuff that I’d kind of hoped had just opened up the window and made its great escape while we weren’t looking. He’ll come down holding in one hand a rusted old pot with pin-prick holes in it wondering aloud why I’ve allowed this fine cookware to stay hidden away up there. The other hand will hold a moth-eaten sweater he picked up in Peru twenty years ago that's “beautiful.” A towel draped over his shoulder, one I wouldn’t even use to dry a dog is described as “a perfectly good towel.” He could spend days finding his treasures up there. I’m waiting for him to come down with the barber’s basin upside down on his head, declaring himself my knight.

I suppose I shouldn’t really complain. After all, it bodes well for the future. I’m definitely beginning to show signs of age. I can only hope that if I ever become a hunched-over, arthritic, hag-like little old lady with no teeth, I will still always be his beautiful Dulcinea.

9 comments:

Charlotte said...

Oh I can so relate, to you anyway, maybe not to Bob. My mother is always urging me to declutter and my MIL always wants to buy me new stuff, but I like my old stuff and am attached to it. My husband, who can look tot-chic (as the Germans put it) when in a suit and off to meet customers, has casual wear left over from the 1980s. I think he and Bob will get along just fine when they meet!

Becky said...

You should let us loose in your attic, we are ruthless about clearing stuff out. Happy to hang on to old and useful, but old and past it? Straight into the skip. Altlhough, on your analogy, I'm not sure what that says about what happens when we get old and past it...

litlove said...

I LOVE throwing things out. My husband hoardes 'useful' bits of wood and I make him keep them out in the garage as if they were within 500 yards radius they would quickly find themselves converted to firewood. You are very tolerant of Bob's treasure trove!

IM said...

Brilliant! I love the line about friends wondering what dump you frequent. It's hard not to develop emotional attachments to things. I've been weaning myself off the clutter recently and it's a lot harder than I thought it would be (but kind of liberating). You're at the top of your form as usual with this post.

ZoesMom said...

My basement is filled with Rob's treasures that sound very similar to Bob's findings in your attic. I, on the other hand, throw things out ruthlessly. It is good that I love Rob or I would have cleared the basement long ago.

I do love the thought of Bob (whom I've never met) as Don Quixote though. That is just a perfect image in my head right now.

mandarine said...

How to turn a reproach into a love declaration. Emily's writing at its best.

stefanie said...

Oh Emily, this is wonderful! I think Bob and my husband would get along magnificently. We still have half a futon frame in our basement because my husband thinks it might be useful for something sometime. And I am so glad he doesn't have a truck anymore. He'd bring broken tables and fixtures home from work certain they'd be great after he fixed them. They never got fixed and remain crammed into our garage. Sigh.

Courtney said...

At least he doesn't desire to "fix" these things up so that they are useful, like Sam? Or does he? We have SO MUCH JUNK that Sam swears he will someday strip/prime/repaint/rewire and it just drives me crazy! I honestly think men have a stronger attachment to "things" than women do. Great post, had me laughing and recognizing myself in every line!

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, I'm absolutely convinced our husbands will get along famously (now, watch them sit around like two bumps on logs with nothing to say when we meet).

Becky, all the more reason for you two to reschedule that visit! Then again, I can just see the blog post: don't visit Bob and Emily. You'll spend the whole time in the dusty attic, thinking you're Cinderella or The Little Princess.

Oh, Litlove, "useful" bits of wood! At least I don't have to contend with that (although I do have to contend with "useful" bits of cardboard).

Ian, thank you! Now tell me, if you were the proud owner of that old Cecil doll who no longer has any eyes, and who no longer speaks, would you keep him?

ZM, it's a good thing basements and attics have doors that can be locked, and no one really has to go to either one very much, isn't it?

Mandarine, "Emily's writing at its best." May I use that line to promote myself? It makes me sound like I have such a distinctive voice.

Stef, thank goodness Bob has never had a truck! Amazing how many of us seem to have the same sorts of husbands.

Oh, Court, did you even need to ask? Probably more than half the stuff in the attic is stuff that's going to be "fixed." P.S. Sonny Landreth was AWESOME! Just brilliant. We came home with his latest CD (with the input of all those other guitarists from my "best" list).