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Jewish World Review
Oct. 16, 2009
/ 28 Tishrei 5770
Collector meets his match (almost)
Like most marriages, the husband and I have a relationship built on accommodating our polar opposite traits.
He saves; I jettison. He likes all things paper; I like a thumb drive. He considers a flat surface an invitation to pile things; I like uncluttered counters.
On hostile days, I refer to his kind as pack rats. He lovingly reminds me that the preferred term is collector.
When I once asked for a list of all the things he collects, he handed me a scrap of paper on which he had written: sports cards, sports magazines and books, old coins, postage stamps, newspapers, vinyl LPs, bank statements from 20 years ago, broken lawn mowers, and socks with holes in them.
The last few he threw in to taunt me, but like many collectors he really does save almost everything that interests him which is nearly everything. And that is why a collector should never marry a collector. When you have two people who save everything, you have a couple that inevitably winds up on the nightly news.
A reporter stands in front of their house interviewing a firefighter who says, "It's the worst I've ever seen. There was stuff everywhere. We had to use a chainsaw to get through the living room to the kitchen where a smoking toaster was stacked on a tower of old Life magazines.
They often find a surplus of cats roaming through these houses as well. Sometimes they even find them in the freezer.
For five months, the husband has been clearing out his father's house, a house in which three generations of collectors collected. Naturally, much of the collection has traveled to our house. Our two-car garage became a one-car garage and eventually a no-car garage.
After three months, I gave up all hope of ever seeing the garage again. A collector's collection never condenses, it only spreads.
As a move of appeasement, the husband began putting things in plastic tubs. The giant plastic storage tub is to the modern-day collector what the cotton gin was to the Industrial Revolution.
Any sort of treasure, no matter how ancient, rotting or riddled with mildew, takes on an air of authenticity once it is housed in a plastic tub with a fitted lid. There were now three square feet of open space in the garage ringed by walls of plastic storage tubs.
Picturing myself on the nightly news years before I planned, I told the husband that unless the tubs o' treasures were out of sight within two weeks, I would drag the contents to the driveway and set it on fire. This was beyond tough love, it was hot love.
Flames minus five days: Both cars were still in the drive.
Flames minus two days: I told the husband not to work too quickly. It would be anticlimactic if the deadline came and I didn't have anything to burn. Perhaps he could save those old pitchforks, which he referred to as primitives and I referred to as kindling.
One hour and 40 minutes before deadline: For the first time in months, a car rolled into the garage.
The fire in the driveway never happened and the spark in the marriage still burns.
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© 2009, Lori Borgman
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