Friday, September 30, 2011

"The Wrong Stuff"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

I had always thought that my garage was the stuff of legend because it’s stuffed with stuff, most of which isn’t my stuff but my daughters’ stuff. It has been accumulating since they left the nest, which supposedly is empty because they don’t live at home anymore but really isn’t because a lot of their stuff is still here.

Then I talked with my college buddy and longtime friend Tim Lovelette, who not only has a garage full of his kids’ stuff but a basement full of it, too, which makes both places the stuff of legend.

“If our kids’ stuff had any value, they wouldn’t trust us with it. They’d be using it,” Tim told me. “Why have we got it? Because they don’t want it. This is nefarious, no question about it. Somehow, a whole generation has gotten together and conspired to fill our homes with worthless stuff.”

Tim has more stuff than I do because he and his wife, Jane, have three kids, Marshall, 32, Amy, 30, and Brendan, 28, while my wife, Sue, and I have two, Katie, 31, and Lauren, 28. They’re all great kids, even though they aren’t, technically, kids anymore. Still, when you get to be my age (old enough to know better), practically everyone else is a kid. So here’s looking at you, kids. And all your stuff.

“I think somebody’s got a key to the house and brings stuff in,” Tim theorized. “I change the locks and it still goes on.”

This means the reverse robber is leaving stuff not only in Tim’s garage but in his basement, a problem I don’t have because I don’t have a basement.

“You’re not qualified to have adult children if you don’t have a basement,” Tim said. “Where are they going to put their stuff?”

“In the garage,” I replied.

“You wouldn’t appreciate anything until you’ve seen my garage,” Tim said. “How many bicycles can you accumulate in a lifetime? I don’t even like bicycles.”

Another thing Tim has in his garage is the snow blower he bought for Marshall.

“I bought it for him for Christmas three or four years ago,” Tim recalled, adding that Marshall’s wife, Sara, said she would buy Marshall a shed for his birthday so he could put the snow blower in it. “But she never bought the shed,” Tim said. “Now I have two snow blowers in my garage. Sara and Marshall have a basement, but there can’t be anything in it, including the snow blower. I don’t think it’s ever been started, but it’s there, ready to go, in my garage.”

Then there are all those skis and ice skates.

“How many pairs of skis can you accumulate?” Tim wondered. “Just go to my garage and count them and figure it out. And I have all their ice skates. My kids haven’t ice-skated in 15 years. If they had to use this stuff, which is all out of date, they’d go out and buy new ones and leave the old ones in my house.”

“What about the basement?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Tim replied. “It’s filled with He-Man toys. You wouldn’t know about them because you have girls, but these toys go back 20 or 30 years. This whole thing must go back to prehistoric times. I can envision caves, with Neanderthal-type people, caves filled with stuff, and the kids are saying, ‘No, you can’t throw away my bones.’ It’s been going on for centuries.”

“What can we do about it?” I said.

“Pack up their stuff in a moving van and have it delivered to them,” Tim answered. “Or have a yard sale. If you have ever gone to a yard sale, you’d see that there’s always a free table. All the stuff you have that belongs to your kids should go on the free table. Just tell them, ‘I’m giving your stuff away.’ What can they do? They can’t hit us.”

“Then we’d have the last laugh,” I said.

“Not really,” said Tim. “There’s a final resolution to all of this: When we die, our kids will have a houseful of stuff -- not just their stuff but our stuff. They’ll say, ‘What are we going to do with Dad’s stuff?’ Answer: They’ll have a yard sale. Our stuff will go on the free table.”

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima


Heidi-"Heidi in Real Life" said...

OH, so funny! This is absolutely true. I have crates of Pokemon cards, bent cymbals, etc. in my basement. I had to park my car in the driveway because my son's sofas were in our garage. VERY funny blog!

JustRex said...

If I had a bigger house I would just end up with more stuff in it. I think it's some kind of natural law.

Jerry Zezima said...

Thank you, Heidi! We'll never get a car in the garage. Unless, of course, we move. And then it'll be too late.

Jerry Zezima said...

I think you're right, Darev2005. It's also some sort of unnatural law. I guess it's a good thing we don't have a basement like my friend Tim. Then it would be full of stuff, too.

Sharon said...

Two solutions:
Continue to move every couple years until all the kids' stuff is gone/lost. Then buy a small house with no storage space.
Tell them they have until a particular date to take what they want. After that the rest goes to Goodwill/St Vinny's.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Every Monday, on my days off, I've been going through the stuff and getting rid of the stuff. It just breeds and multiplies. I don't understand how it's possible! Funny "stuff," Jerry. *knee-slap.*

Jerry Zezima said...

Two good solutions, Sharon, except that the kids know we can't afford to move every two years (after paying for college and two weddings, there's not much left) and that we'd never follow through on setting a deadline, especially since we'd have to bring all their stuff to Goodwill ourselves. Such is the stuff of life.

Jerry Zezima said...

Thanks, Dawn. It's like the biblical story of the Loaves and the Fishes: You get rid of one item or pile of your kids' stuff and two more miraculously appear.

JustRex said...

This whole post keeps reminding me of George Carlin's bit about stuff and where you keep it.

Funny stuff!

Even if there is too much of it.

Jerry Zezima said...

Darev2005, I didn't think I would ever be compared to George Carlin (poor George), but thanks. Still, he couldn't have had more stuff than I do. Or that my friend Tim does. Where to put it all is another matter.