A cluttered affair to remember

“I’ve got clutter, clutter, clutter, clut, clut, clut, clutter,” Bone Hampton sings. “I’ve got clutter. I use an electric slide to get through all the clutter. I have nightmares I might miss Jesus’ return with all this clutter. He won’t be able to find me. Clutter, clutter, clutter.”
Hampton is singing our song. My Sweet Al and I were organizing the garage. He has his side and I have mine. Now Al has both sides. I inched my car into the garage. He said, “Be careful. Don’t hit the sides.”
I said to our youngest daughter, “I can’t handle all of this clutter.”
She said, “But you have Daddy. It’s a trade-off.”
I guess she’s right. I looked at our shared closet. Al has gradually moved over to my side. He has filled five racks of shoes. I have one. He can wear only one pair of shoes at a time. He doesn’t need 20 pairs of tennis shoes, shoe fetish or not.
I entered the closet with a whip and chair to tame this wild beast staring at me. I announced to Al I was cleaning. It was the wrong thing to do.
My Sweet Al has hovered around me all day and won’t leave the house for fear I’ll throw something away. He claims he wants to help me. He says he loves me and wants to be with me. He says a good wife wouldn’t throw away her husband’s belongings.
Try me. I know his song and dance. Al isn’t clinging to me. He’s clinging to his clutter. And, when I suggested to him that he should go outside and mow the lawn, he wanted to be with me.
He became nervous so I had to work around him. I fiddled with my side of the closet. I have to make him think I’m not looking at his stuff. He started chinking things into little spaces. I said to him, “No, no, no. The only way to clean is to take everything out and start fresh. If you don’t, you’ll keep things that you don’t want to keep.”
He pretended he didn’t hear me and continued to put more things out of my sight. He’s playing dumb. I’m not a fool. I know what he’s doing. Out of sight, out of mind. Not out of my mind. I’m on a cleaning tangent. I’ll have to try another tactic. It means I’ll have to wait until he’s gone.
I overheard him on the phone with his brother. They are planning a hunting trip. That’s my time to clear out all of his clutter. I called my friend. She helped me organize our things when I sold my studio and moved to a smaller space. She offered to help me again. I told her Al is leaving in a few days. I’ll let her know when he’s gone.
Al’s brother called back. They decided on a date. The minute I heard, I slipped into the bedroom, closed the door and dialed my friend. With hand over my mouth, I whispered into the receiver. “Al will leave on Wednesday. Mark your calendar. We’ll start cleaning as soon as he’s gone.”
I felt like I was having an affair and planning a secret meeting with some yummy, good-looking guy. But no, I was looking forward to spending time with delicious, good-looking clean closets.
I told her “Be ruthless with me. Don’t let anything slide. If I haven’t worn it in the last couple of years, I won’t. I’ve got cute fancy purses. Do I carry any of them? No. Will I? No. I carry a summer purse and a winter one. Time to let go and let someone else carry my cute and fancy purses. Let her fill her closets.”
Clutter doesn’t stop there. I have clutter on every side. I read our writing lesson for the week. The author’s first line is, “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon. We have words which say the same thing and our writing is full of clutter.”
It’s the same disease. We as a society strangle with unnecessary, pompous frills and meaningless things. It takes the clarity out of our lives.
When we were young we accumulated things, which only satisfied us for the moment. Purchasing a big house and lots of land spoke of success. We didn’t enjoy all we had, but continued to buy more.
It has taken a lifetime of changing our thinking. Today, the less we have the better it feels. It is not being passive or indifferent. It’s actually enjoying what we have. We are becoming wiser. It’s a trade-off. I have my Sweet Al, and he is enough without the clutter. But, I have to do a little creative maneuvering around him to keep the clutter out of the house so I can find him.
Final brushstroke: For my Sweet Al, he doesn’t know how to turn loose. It’s a good thing, because he continues to cling to me and will to the end of my days. He might get mad when he finds his stuff gone. I’ll play his game. When I get caught, I’ll play dumb and hard of hearing.
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This story was posted on September 14, 2017.