Friday, June 03, 2005


My previous post made reference to my Pack-Rat Tendencies, and it seemed to be a natural topic on which to expound.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are living in our seventh house. That’s seven different houses in twenty-eight years. Four different states. And each time we’ve relocated, it’s been with the Great Corporate Salt Mine paying the freight.

The tendency to hang on to Ephemeral Shit, therefore, is completely untrammeled. The only restriction on how much crap we drag around with us is the size of the house...and basements, finished or no, count.

It is purely amazing, just how much Worthless Shit we have managed to accumulate over the years. I say “we” with an asterisk: most of the real crapola is mine. SWMBO is more selective about the stuff she hangs on to.

But me, I started collecting useless crap back in my Snot-Nose Days. I started with bottle caps and moved into cigar bands. God help me...cigar bands. Baseball cards? Naah – everybody collected baseball cards. I wanted to be a little different.

Mad magazines. I started buying those in 1962, and built up quite a pile. Still have ’em. Issues going back to 1954...and every single one from March 1962 until mid-1974.

National Lampoon magazines, all vintage early 1970’s.

LP records. Got about 400 of those. I still play ’em, too.

Books. I am a voracious reader, and I tend to buy a lot of hardbacks. I have no idea how many I have lining every linear inch of shelf space in the house or stuffed into boxes in the basement.

So far, this is normal stuff, the kind of stuff most of us have, at one time or another, collected. But there’s more...
  • Old cameras. Got a few of those, all in working condition.

  • Sunday newspaper comics. I keep ’em all, every week. One of these days, I’m going to wallpaper a room or two with them.

  • Menus and amenity kits from first-class international flights I’ve taken over the years. Oh, and a few in-flight magazines, too...if the destination was exotic enough.

  • Soap bars and dinky-ass shampoo bottles from hotels around the world. Shoe-cleaning cloths, too.

  • My old, expired passports. I like to see where I’ve been.

  • Matchbooks from hundreds of hotels and restaurants.

  • Corks. I keep the corks from almost every bottle of wine I drink, and that’s a shitload of corks. I’ll probably use ’em to soundproof a wing of the house one day. They also make dandy trivets if you glue ’em into a frame...but right now they’re sitting in a honkin’ big basket in the den.
Let’s not forget SWMBO, who collects teapots. But at least those serve a decorative purpose, sitting atop the cabinets in the kitchen. Her collection of Wade Whimseys is a little more arcane, but at least that falls within the parameters of normal collecting behavior.

For myself, however, I make no such claim – I know I’m crazy. And I still have a pitcher full of cigar bands, with which I hope to make a quilt one day.

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