I bought this book, Scaling Down: Living Large in a smaller space. It’s about getting rid of the clutter and the basic moral is, if you don’t need it and don’t love it, get rid of it. It asks how many towels do you really need? How many coffee mugs? Really, a household only needs one can opener, and if you have a clutter-free kitchen, odds are you’ll know where it is when you need it.
I was so inspired I told my mother she could throw everything out of the drawers in my teenage bedroom, which is pretty easy to say when I’m not looking right at the autographed pictures of soap stars from their fan clubs.
All week I’ve been waiting for this day, when Rob would be at work for 12 hours and I could stealthily go through the apartment, throwing away all the things I decided he didn’t love or need. I should note that the book doesn’t recommend this. It says that you should worry about your own things and perhaps your partner will be inspired by your newfound habits.
I haven’t explained the Need/Love litmus test to him, thinking I could save that for a moment when we’re packing and he’s about to insist that the styrofoam gargoyle come with us to our new house. Rob, do you need this styrofoam gargoyle? Do you love it?
Of course I understand that yes, he will tell me he loves every single Elektra action figure and poster, and The Crow memorabilia that he hasn’t taken out of the boxes. I wouldn’t dream of touching those.
Last night we were watching something on TiVo — I can’t remember what. He has a fake tree that obscures part of the TV from certain angles. I asked, “What do you think of that tree?” He said, “Yeah, it’s annoying.”
I said, “Great, so it’s not coming with us?”
And he said, “What? No, I love that tree. I really love it.”
Whoa, OK then, I guess it comes with.
This morning, I got started on my mission before he left. I told him I was getting rid of the stack of magazines on the kitchen floor, which I had asked him to do something about before my mom visited in April. I was willing to keep the Playboys with Jenny McCarthy and Cindy Crawford on the covers, but I knew he was never going to read all the old photography magazines (technology has changed) or old Entertainment Weeklies from the late 1990s (with pictures of the hunks from ER, for example).
He said, “If it means that much to you, you can do it, but it goes against everything I believe in.”
So I compromised and saved the “Best of” Entertainment Weeklies from 1996 on.
My next step is to throw away things I don’t think he will even miss. I can’t see him saying, “Whatever happened to my Sea Monkey habitat?”
But he might miss the styrofoam gargoyle.