Saturday, January 05, 2008


There’s a post over at Frothing at Le Mouse having to do with clutter. It sounded all too familiar.
We’ve been in the house long enough and shoved enough useless junk into the minimal hidey holes we have available. But, after 18 years, the birthday cards, kids’ records, pictures, retail statements from 1987 that we moved with us, discarded novelty kitchen items (we have a salad shooter, potato twirler thingie, yak carver, Albanian ritual cake mold, stoneware so lead infused we could start up an x-ray office, mismatched knives, filmy glasses from the 900th recognition trip, decorative jockstrap holder for the pantry, liqueurs from the cruise in 1988, dried hobbit feet–stuff like that) and moths have packed every single usable inch of storage.
“Eighteen years worth of detritus?” I thought after reading this. Amateurs!

To be a Pack Rat of the First Water - a true, dyed-in-the-wool Cluttermeister - it helps to be a Corporate Employee of Long Standing. Because no matter how many times we’ve moved over the past thirty years, each move has been at the expense of one Great Corporate Salt Mine or another. Which means that there is no incremental cost (to me, anyway) of moving the ever-expanding Pile o’ Crap that is my life. All I need to do is make sure there’s a place to put it all.

I’ve got cancelled checks going back 38 years, to my very first checking account.

I’ve got books (I never throw out a book), various periodicals, inflight menus. Old photographs, including several thousand slides. MAD magazines, some as old as me. Matchbooks from hotels and restaurants long since defunct.

We have cookware, some of it over 30 years old. Glassware, silverware, countless sets of dishes. (The Missus loves to buy new dishes every few years.)

Our lacquer liquor locker has a few bottles that are in that thirty-year age range, including a bottle of Mandarine Napoleon that dates from 1980, scattered in there amongst the newer stuff.

But possibly the most ridiculous collection of Useless Crap in the house has been my accumulation of Hotel Soap.

You know what I’m talking about, any of you who travel. You stay in a hotel, and they have a bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap sitting out for you. Fancier places may have some crap called “Body Wash” or “Bath Foam.” Maybe some hand lotion...or a shoe shine sponge...or talcum powder. For as Ogden Nash once said, “A little talcum / Is always walcum.”

I have a tendency to take any extra bars and bottles with me when I check out of a hotel, especially if it’s Posh Accommodations. And, alas, after a while, it piles up:

Hotel Soap
Elisson’s 30-year-old pile of Hotel Soap.

Do not imagine that the heap above represents all the Hotel Soap I’ve snarfed up over the years. We’ve already winnowed through it at least once before, discarding “leakers” and stuff that was beginning to get nasty with age. But today, She Who Must Be Obeyed decided that it was time for me to Clean Up My Act.

The stuff in the plastic bins on the left is the stuff we’ll keep...all the rest of it goes in the trash. There are bottles of shampoo and “Bath Foam” from Europe, Asia, and Central America. Bars of soap from Taiwan, Japan, France, Indonesia, Canada. And some of it is old. Really old. We’re not donating any of it to the local Wino Shelter; most of the liquids have hydrolyzed to the point where not even a bum would want to wash with ’em.

Seriously: Kim, from Frothing at Le Mouse, is strictly an amateur when it comes to piling up Useless Crap. Me, I’m a pro.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Joan of Argghh! for the link.]

Update: As deranged as I may be, there are others out there who are even more deranged...

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Teafizz for the link.]

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