Monday, April 28, 2008

The Garage

Kathie and our daughter cleaned the garage last week.

Elisabeth, a teacher in Boston, came home on her spring break. Now cleaning someone’s garage, even my own, is not my idea of the dream vacation. In fact, whether considered recreation or a chore, it is something I have managed to avoid for the past 30 years.

When it has been suggested that I spend a fun-filled week on this project my dodge is that it is not my stuff, and I would feel terrible about tossing someone’s precious childhood memories.

Elisabeth, though, finally caved in and decided it was better to sacrifice a week of her life at one shot, rather than listen to her mother ask her in each and every conversation over the next decade what her plans were for the stuff she has in our garage.

The project was a big success, I gather. I gather because I managed to make myself scarce for most of the week. Lots of mother/daughter bonding took place and legions of old stuffed animals were dispatched.

Both made a stunning, perhaps unprecedented discovery….that I was actually right about something. “Dad”, Elisabeth said with a perplexed expression “None of the stuff in the garage was yours.” Ha!

Actually, there are two reasons for this:
Almost everything I have ever owned is still in use.
My stuff gets tossed by the powers that be before ever making it into storage.

My lawnmower, for example, is twenty years old. I thought maybe I have had it for “a few” years, but the last time I took it in for service the lawnmower repair guy looked at it wistfully and said “they don’t make them like that anymore.” I’m like: “You mean Toro stopped making quality lawnmowers three years ago?” He pointed out a plate on the mower that indicated it was made in the 80’s. I guess time flies when you have a good lawnmower.

I have a sweater that is 37 years old and I wear it regularly. It is a hand knit Norwegian ski sweater that I purchased for seven bucks in 1971 at a clearance sale. That was cheap even then. Kathie says it was out of style in ‘71 and hasn’t been in style any time in the ensuing 37 years. I also have an Irish sweater my mother bought me when I was a sophomore in college and a sport jacket from Ohrbach’s which went out of business in the Carter administration. If I find something I like, I stick with it. Also, given that the median age of the global human population is 26, I take pride in the fact that my wardrobe is older than half the people on earth.

However, a lot of my stuff goes away before I am through with it. Last week, going through my summer clothes I noticed my salmon-colored-tee-shirt-that-used-to-be-red-with-the-holes-and-bleach-stains-from-the-pool-we-took-down-six-years-ago was missing. It was the perfect compliment to my red shorts and black socks. I was okay when Kathie told me she threw it away, but she didn’t have to call it a rag. In fact, more than once I have rescued some key fashion accessory of mine from the plastic garbage barrel she designates for paint rags.

So, not a bad week for me: a clean garage, nice visit with our daughter…and it was unanimously decided I was right about something.

I still can’t fit my car in the garage though.

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