Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Happiest Place on Earth
If you're clinically obsessive compulsive.

For Christmas, Dan & Eleanor gave us the services of an elite squad of professional cleaners that will wipe down and deep clean our entire apartment, which will be a monumental task because we’re not very clean people. Tidiness is just so Yankee.  Anyway, they’re coming on Monday, so we’ve been forced to declutter and get things in order. After a stop at Goodwill to drop off a bunch of boxes we headed straight for The Container Store. The moment Elizabeth and I walked in I was overcome with a wave of fatigue and hopelessness. I was seriously overwhelmed by the storage options, their quantity unmeasurable to man. My distress was compounded by a predatorily/ preternaturally perky sales floor clerk who stalked us through the aisles, trying to upsell us. I know it was voted as one of the best companies to work for but you just really could not be that cheerful working fucking retail, especially when you have to listen to music like Billy Joel's Rhythm of the Night piped over the loudspeakers at an unacceptably loud level all day. Finally we were able to shake Little Miss Employee of the Month and get out of there with just a revolving spice rack and a few other storage items.

Getting all of those boxes of donations out of the house felt great, like a very satisfying feng shui shit, but sometimes all of that retention can be a good thing. My grandmother’s beautiful house on Curzon Street in Ft Worth was like the Smithsonian. It was very large and could accommodate all of the clothes, material, and other objects that tend to collect when you raise a family and live in the same house for 50 years.
A thrifty child of the Depression, she rarely throws anything away. Every drawer was like an archeological tell, a timeline of objects from the Truman to Reagan administration. I always used to find the coolest things in her house – great old board games, first edition Nancy Drews, an ocelot skin, my aunt’s tonsils in a jar of formaldahyde. All of that retention really paid off, however, during the DES scare in the 70s. My aunt and mother knew that my grandmother had taken some medication during her pregnancies with them and were terrified that it was DES. They asked her if she could remember what medication she had taken and Grandmother said, “One minute. Let me go see.” She trotted right up to her medicine cabinet and pulled out that bottle of drugs that she had taken, which thankfully wasn’t DES. Mind you, this was thirty years since she had taken the medicine.

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