Cleaning the Garage
My wife, Muri, likes things clean and tidy. She likes shining floors and counters, organized shelves and refrigerators, table tops neatly arranged and dusted, and clean carpets. She likes people’s stuff put away. I would tell you that I like those things, too, just not as intensely or as often. She would tell you differently. In forty seven years together, we’ve trained each other. I try to be neater and she tries to overlook my sometimes messy habits. Sometimes, we succeed. This difference in our neatness standards has led to a division of labor that seems to work. Muri takes care of the inside of the house and I take care of the outside. She’s never come out and told me this, but I assume she sees the outside as a hopeless project because there’s all that dirt out there. Not to mention bugs.
The demilitarized zone in this arrangement is the garage. Traditionally, garages are for guys and I tend to see it as a workshop and storage area, not subject to house rules. My son, who lives with us, sees it a a place to collect stuff that he might be able to sell on, say, ebay. Muri, of course, thinks it’s a place to park cars and that she should be able to get out of her car without walking over stuff or banging the door against someting. Oh, she has stuff out there, too, but it’s in the cabinets we installed along two walls. This week, having noticed that there was an electronics disposal event nearby, she suggested I rent a truck and take the huge 36-inch (100 pound) CRT TV … and an assortment of old computers. You could use it to take some of this stuff to the dump, too, she said hopefully. Desperately in need of some Honey-Do Points, I rented a truck on Saturday morning and recruited my son to help with the clean-up. The electronics disposal phase of this Mission Impossible went smoothly except that my son and I could hardly get the TV into the truck bed. The trip-to-the-dump phase was more complicated. To fully appreciate the problem, you need to watch George Carlin’s classic routine about people’s Stuff.
I wanted to throw out my son’s stuff. He wanted to throw out mine. And we’d no sooner get something on the discard pile and Muri would peek through the garage door and say, You’re not throwing that out, are you? But after a couple hours the truck bed was full. A cabinet full of my kids’ soccer trophies went to the dump but my marathon medallions stayed. They’re my stuff, after all, probably to be discarded in the next purge. Countless boxes of files and decor from previous lives joined the trophies. By the time we were done, we could actually walk in the garage and there was room for my recumbent stationary bike. My son suggested we throw that away, too, because, You’ll never use it, Dad. Ouch. But the garage is clean and the Love of My Life is Happy. Until she gets a look at my office.