Outpatient decluttering

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Because I’m a professional practitioner of the pedagogical arts (known in some parts as fancy book learnin’), I’m privileged to enjoy a Spring Break holiday that usually falls during the same week my semi-grown daughters are also out of school.

Back in the good old days when the girls still spoke to me with actual words, we would spend our Spring Breaks together­­ – playing at the park, riding bikes, or sharing the trauma of a Disney character’s parental death scene.

This year, instead of bonding with me and giggling about my excessive ear hair, all three daughters struck out on their own to sigh dramatically and roll their eyes elsewhere.

My eldest and most expensive daughter took a trip with a friend and several of my credit cards to enjoy the urban vibrancy of Las Vegas. My middle daughter and her sorority sisters soaked up the sun and repelled the advances of countless pec-flexing goobers on the sugar-white sands of Orange Beach, Alabama. My youngest and quietest daughter communed with nature, her best friend, and a jumbo bag of snack cheese on an all-day picnic. I took the family doglets out to potty several times.

Amid these canine assaults on my lawn, I took the opportunity of a daughterless house to do some decluttering. Yes, we are those people who keep things that we might (but probably won’t) need some time in the next fifty years – because who knows when that free miniature tube of toothpaste I got from the dentist in 1997 might come in handy (along with the other 34 tubes in the same drawer).

I’m sad to say that after an entire week of decluttering, I only made it through our laundry room. The following is a catalog of the clutter I decluttered in there.

First, I got rid of two large Rubbermaid tubs full of cables, wires, cords, adapters, and about a hundred other electronic/computery-type thingies I couldn’t identify. I did feel a slight twinge of fear that this stuff might be important, but since I hadn’t opened the tubs since it was still cool to wear a pager, I decided it was safe to let them go.

Next, I reduced the lifespan of my lumbar spine by lifting down a cardboard box with long-forgotten contents to discover about 60 pounds worth of seashells inside. Yes, seashells. After taking our girls on numerous trips to the beach over the years and allowing them to bring home every fragment, shard or sliver of what might once have been a seashell, I’m sure we thought we would get crafty someday and open a seashell décor emporium. Instead, I now have to perform the geezer shuffle when I walk.

Next to the seashell hoard was a second mystery box that revealed a complete set of what appeared to be old martini glasses. Neither my wife nor I have any idea where these came from or why they had been marinating in dust on a shelf above our dryer for the past twenty-odd years. We’ve never made a martini or even drunk a martini. And, as far as we know, neither have our parents­­­­–though mine probably should have done so regularly during my teen years.

This summer, I plan to have one of my famous garage sales and transfer ownership of these delightful objects to other folks who can find them boxed up in their laundry rooms years from now and wonder where in the heck they came from. So if you’re in the market for some old electronic waste or some seashell parts, come on by. Maybe I’ll even make you a martini, but probably not.

Copyright 2024 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at [email protected].

Jase Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. He is also a frequent contributor to The Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop, which named him Writer of the Month for June of 2017, and he has served as a judge in the Erma Bombeck/Anna Lefler Humorist in Residence program.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists says, "Whether he's breaking down the common types of yard sale denizens ('The Lingerer . . .she was here so long, I'll probably be able to claim her on my next tax return') or sharing cautionary tales of mattress shopping, Jason flays suburban life with a sharp wit. Shopping for his daughter's swimsuits, he wonders if he has 'strayed into the first aid section and . . .was looking at a new line of colorful ACE bandages.'"

Other than writing, his hobbies include berating the television when the Texas A&M Aggie football team is playing and sleeping as late as possible.