Pack Rats & Hoarding
I was sitting on the couch one afternoon and I heard my son behind me. He had picked up a Walmart bag that someone had strategically hidden behind other things. I wasn’t really paying much attention to it until he held it up and asked, “What are all of these?” then I sat up and looked.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” my husband answered trying to sound very casual and nonchalant.
“Open it up and look,” I instructed.
My son opens the bag and starts to pull something out. Quickly, my husband says, “It’s just a bunch of gas caps.”
An instant image came to my mind as I remembered so many times my husband and I would be driving down the highway and he’d see something in the middle of the road. All of a sudden, he would turn and go back, open his car door, and then swoop down and pick something up. It was usually a gas cap. I couldn’t resist giving my husband a look of reprieve.
“Why do you have a bag of gas caps?” my son inquired. Being well aware of the hoarding issues I have with my husband, Reese knew his father was hiding these things from me hence, being placed in a secluded spot.
“You can just throw those out,” my husband offered flippantly.
Like me, my son also knew his dad was only making the gesture because he thought I would intervene and say, “Oh it’s okay, just put them down, we’ll do something with them later,” instead, I said, “Yeah, go ahead and just throw those out, son. We don’t need them.”
My son said, “Okay, no problem,” and walked to the trash and tossed them.
My husband was so angry that he started throwing a temper tantrum until my son pointed out that it was he who said to throw them away in the first place. Rest assured, if there is something I need in this house, it’s probably here, including an old gas cap that no one ever uses anymore.
Because of our eBay store, my husband frequently brings home boxes so we can send packages out. He’s very possessive about those boxes, too. He once told my son not to use a box because we might need it for something else.
“Yeah, like now,” my son said in exasperation.
With good intentions, he had overdone bringing home the boxes. My son decided he was breaking a few of them down and taking them to work with him. He asked his dad which vehicle he planned to take to work.
“The blazer,” my husband answered.
So casually, my son put on some shoes and then strolled through the living room with an arm full of broken down cardboard boxes. He walked out and put them into the back of my truck that he planned to drive to work.
About an hour before it was time for my son to leave, my husband said, “Never mind, I think I’m going to drive our truck. Do you mind?”
“Not at all,” my son answered. He slipped on a pair of shoes and went outside. He transferred all of the boxes over to the blazer and came back inside.
Thirty minutes later, my husband announces he will take the blazer since our truck is low on gas. My son, slightly irritated, asked, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” my husband says. My son slips on a pair of shoes and goes outside. He moves the boxes to the back of our truck again.
As he was walking out the door to go to work my husband said, “Wait! Your mom gave me some gas money, so I guess I’ll go ahead and just take our truck.”
My son rolls his eyes and then leaves. He calls me later and tells me what happened. All I can do is laugh. The next morning, my son goes outside to check the back of the truck and all of the boxes are gone. He says nothing but comes in and waits it out to see if his dad is going to say something. He knows he is busted so he steadies himself for the bitch-fest he thinks his father is going to unleash upon him.
It is far and few between that my husband will throw anything away. If we ask him to throw out something, he will often complain, find reasons to keep things, or he'll hide it from us so we'll just think he threw something away.
Several days go by and nothing is said. Curiosity is getting the better of him so he casually mentions the boxes to his dad who, much to our surprise, answers, “Yeah, I threw them out. I don’t remember putting them in the back of the truck, though, but I figured we didn’t need them so I threw them away. Did you put them back there or something?”
My son offers a little laugh and says quite nonchalantly, “Yes, I was going to throw them out, too.”
As my husband was getting something off the top of the refrigerator, he discovered a bottle of Jack Daniels. He brought it over to me to look at. The bottle still held about 1/3 liquor inside.
“That’s old,” I commented staring at the liquid inside which had lost its brown color and had turned clear. “Throw it away.”
“No! It’s alcohol! It’s still good,” he exclaimed as he walked back to the kitchen.
“Reese, it is not still good. If it is, I’m not drinking it, and besides, we don’t drink anyway; pour it out,” I insisted.
I heard the bottle clink on the kitchen counter. “Okay, okay,” he said. “We can pour it out.”
So why didn’t he? That’s the hoarder in him. He doesn’t like to throw things away. I went into the kitchen later and saw it still sitting there next to the sink. I waited to see if he would pour it out or not.
The following day, the bottle of liquid was still sitting there. The morning after that, I poured it out myself. The clutter bug in me set the bottle back next to the sink. I took a picture of it sitting there and decided to do a countdown to see how long it would take him to throw it away.
To be fair, as he is not a mind reader and wouldn’t know what I wanted until I said something, I waited for him to get up that morning and then said, “I forgot to throw that bottle of Jack Daniels away. I emptied it out but I set it back down and walked away. Would you please throw it away for me?”
“Sure,” he answered from the kitchen. “I’ll get it.”
I waited and waited and waited longer. Sixteen days later, he finally threw it away. But, he did throw it away.
Jeff Foxworthy tells a redneck joke: “You might be a redneck if you have an entire set of salad bowls that are a collection of Cool Whip bowls.”
My son and I just look at each other and laugh. Here’s the salad bowl story:
I had made spaghetti for dinner one night and my son fixed a bowl for lunch the next day with the leftovers. As he reached up and grabbed a Cool Whip bowl, my husband started complaining.
“What,” my son asked noting his father’s look of displeasure.
“Don’t use those bowls,” Dad demanded, “They leave tomato stains inside! Find something else.”
In his own defense my son asked, “What do you want me to use? We don’t have any glass bowls with tops. Maybe you’d prefer I used one of these fancier Churn Style butter bowls instead?”
Grumbling and muttering under his breath my husband retorts, “I don’t know! Find something but don’t use those bowls!”
He used the bowl anyway.
Speaking of the butter bowls; in a separate incident, I remember yelling about them. I was pulling something out of the cabinet one day and noticed we had like ten butter bowls and six Cool Whip bowls. “Why are we collecting all these damn bowls,” I yelled in frustration. “Do we really need that many?”
My husband storms into the kitchen and snatches all of the butter bowls and Cool Whip bowls out of the cabinet, stomps off to the recycling bin outside the front door, and slams them down into the bucket. After which (he was having a bad day), he proceeds to snap at me, “There, are you happy now?”
I leaned up against the counter in the kitchen and watched him do all this without saying a word. I knew he wasn’t serious because he didn’t take all the lids that went to the bowls with him to the trash.
Later, my son comes in, sees all of the bowls in the recycling bin and asks me what happened. I told him about his father’s little temper tantrum. My son throws his hands up and says, “Great! What am I supposed to use for spaghetti now? He threw all of our fancy-dancy bowls out!”
“It’s okay, Son,” I say soothingly. “They’ll all be put back in the cabinet within a few days.”
Three days later, I go to get a bowl down from the cabinet and lo and behold, I have four butter bowls and six Cool Whip bowls up there. I shake my head as I close the cabinet door. We had our fancy salad bowls back. I just thanked God that it wasn’t all ten of the fancier butter bowls.