Sunday, August 14, 2011

The thundering hoarders

“At least I don’t leave yogurt in the credenza,” can become a rock-solid defense of your personal cleaning habits, but only if you’ve properly level-set your spouse by making her sit through a few episodes of the show “Hoarders” first.

“I don’t think I can watch this anymore,” my wife Kara said as the reality show cameras paused for a moment on a hoarder’s bed, which was adrift in a sea of soda bottles and Taco Bell wrappers, with a liberal dose of rotten ground beef and tortillas stirred into the mix, just begging for the right rodent infestation to come along and making our own boxer-short-festooned bedroom look spotless by comparison.

Kara and I had been trolling through our viewing options via our Netflix instant-streaming account, and the only two choices were “Hoarders” and the 1993 season of “Beavis and Butthead,” which was once considered to be a low point of our civilization, until the next two decades happened.

Watching “Hoarders” was the best choice we’ve ever made, but eating dinner during an episode might have been the worst. It’s difficult to chew while watching an old lady scrape a rotten pumpkin off her living room floor, reaching into it to retrieve a few seeds for future potential use. I could feel my stock price rising, though, as Kara began to understand that there are worse things than leaving a few dishes on the couch. No show on TV serves as a better bar-lowerer.

Inspired by the show, I decided to tackle the closet under our stairs, which had begun requiring ever more inventive door-shutting techniques to avert a total trashalanche.

To be fair, the stuff in that closet wasn’t all trash. It was half-trash: stuff that you don’t need, and probably never will, but you can still construct elaborate future scenarios where it might come in handy someday.

That iron that’s still in the box, even though we already have one upstairs? What if Kara and I both had to iron something at the same time, even though we only have one ironing board that neither of us knows how to unfold?

Unused brackets for window blinds. Karate pads that haven’t heard a good “kiyup!” in twenty years. Cables for computers we no longer own. A VHS copy of “She’s All That.” A George Foreman Grill.

Each of these things has no power on its own. If you don’t throw it or give it away, though, your half-trash will join forces with itself like the lion-shaped robots from Voltron, fusing together to become an awesome super-robot that your neighbor Louie will have, but you never will.

This super-robot will crawl into your storage space and grow stronger, adding your microwave from college to its biceps and your old ferret toys to its pecs. Also, it will have the face of Freddie Prinze, Jr., which will make it even more terrifying. Eventually, you’ll be too scared to open the closet door, and you’ll start storing stuff on the kitchen table, which is the first step to earning a guest appearance on “Hoarders.”

Determined to avoid that fate, I threw myself into our closet last week, dismantling our super-robot piece-by-useless-piece, throwing away everything that didn’t beg for mercy and setting the rest aside for Good Will. At the back of the closet, I found three large boxes that had been moved to two apartments and two houses, but never opened.

Inside those boxes were Kara’s old college textbooks, which I distinctly remember lugging into our first house ten years ago.

“I might want to look at them again,” she said, as my discs audibly herniated.

Those books won’t be causing us any more problems. They’re sleeping with the Prinze, Jrs.

You can toss Mike Todd to the curb at


  1. Hoarders always makes me clean too! Kara, those text books do come in handy, as I found out last week. A friend needed help with some homework, and we found out that my 25 year old hematology book, had important charts that were no longer included in her edition. Must of been some cost cutting method! If nothing else, they may be good fire starters if the power goes out this winter!

  2. Glad your textbook hoarding came in handy! Kara's Calc II book might have made a good booster seat, but now we'll never know.