Sunday, April 18, 2010

You can go home again, but your stuff’s gone

“Here,” Mom said during their recent visit to our house, dropping a trash bag full of treasures from my old room into my current garage. Dad followed, carrying three large boxes of junk non grata, setting them down with a smile.

At some point, parents of adult children will rebel against having their homes used as self-storage facilities. My in-laws are still trying to figure out how to get rid of their kids’ kayaks, wedding dresses and trophies from soccer tournaments held when ALF was still on the air.

As of last month, the lease abruptly ended on the closet in my old bedroom, a mere fourteen years after I’d moved out. Apparently, my parents have never heard of the term “grace period.”

The benefit of being the youngest kid in the family is that when you’re in middle school and your sister goes to college, you get to pick the best room in the house (hers), and it stays yours forever, rightfully stolen. Or so I thought.

Giving up my room in the basement has been a Band-aid that my parents have been ripping off for about a decade. I’ll never forget coming home after graduating college to find that they had turned my room into a guest room. I’d been demoted to guest status. No more Phish posters on the wall. No more glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. It was all wrong. The bedroom in the basement is supposed to remain a museum, in perpetuity, to your son’s tastes during his senior year of high school.

“It took us three hours to scrape those stars off the ceiling,” Mom said.

“But they were in the right constellations and everything,” I protested, too late. The stars were already aligned. In the trash can.

Their recent drive to rid their house of my belongings made much more sense last weekend, when we brought their grandson Evan for a visit. We hadn’t visited since Christmas, largely because driving four hours with an infant presents certain challenges that we’re just learning how to handle. Remember that scene from the movie Tommy Boy, when the deer wakes up in the backseat and proceeds to shred the car from the inside out? It’s like that, but without antlers.

When we arrived at their house, my wife Kara was the first to head down to the basement. After a few moments, her voice drifted up the stairs: “Awwwww.”

My parents’ storage room, the room where broken space heaters previously went to live out their golden years under piles of old wreaths, where grabbing a canteen off the back shelf had once required a harness and climbing equipment, had been converted into a nursery.

The junk was all gone. A crib sat against the far wall, next to a rocking chair and a changing table. A nightlight cast a dim glow from the top of a filing cabinet.

“We’ve been busy,” Mom said, marking the understatement of the weekend.

Creating a new nursery for Evan meant that we didn’t have to sleep with his crib in the guest room anymore, which was fantastic news for us. While Evan is a wonderful baby, when you’re trying to sleep, he’s a worse roommate than the one my buddy Derek had in college, who used to wipe his butt with Derek’s towels.

My folks had taken enough stuff to Good Will to warrant a memorial wing. They’d even removed all their dusty old liquor bottles, which was just as well, since most of them had turned into water over the years anyway. Teenagers seem to have that power. Kind of like Jesus, but in reverse.

Anyway, Evan enjoyed his promotion and slept peacefully in his new room, which he should have dibs on for at least the next thirty years.

You can watch ALF with Mike Todd at


  1. Interesting... I've been through this process already. My mom brought lots of good things to my new house, looking to clean out her place of my teenage memories.

  2. Hilarious... that's STILL my room, dude! P.S. some lady has stolen your rad "Just Humor Me" title - Google it.

  3. Jered Earl - You had good things? My stuff was all Tshirts that don't fit and CD cases with no CDs.

    Anonymous Amy - Ha! Yeah, right! And she already had before I came along with this column. Pretty sure that makes me the thief.

  4. Dude, I wasn't the only one that added water to liquor bottles? I thought I was so genius!

  5. Don't worry, dude. You're still a genius, as long as you only tried it with clear booze.

  6. Please tell me that your mom and dad saved the sleep machines! I remember the last time I saw them they were in that little room, Sears brand if I am not mistaken! They are the best invention ever, Natalie and I have one.