I've recently caught wind of a reality TV show that has me shaking in my boots (one of many pairs in our coat closet, including some that haven't fit my sons since they were eight or nine). It's got me so unnerved that not only do I refuse to view a single episode, but I'm inclined to unplug the television set and bury it back in its original carton, which has been stored in the basement since we bought the TV in 2001.
See, I'm afraid I'm one of them.
Oh, it's not so bad that I've collected piles of empty pizza boxes. I can toss those. Gladly, in fact, because who needs a measurable count of how many times we've fallen off the diet wagon?
It's severe enough, however, that I'm fairly certain a TV crew is on its way right now, ready to broadcast my story to all those TV voyeurs in places like North Dakota. And then I'll be just another sicko whose "inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis." (Description courtesy of the show's website.)
The crew will start in my kitchen, where the show's hostess will seize upon my drawers filled with Tupperware. "And do you have the bowls for any of these lids?" she'll ask with a sneer. I'll frantically sort through the mismatched lids and bowls, none of which fit each other but which can't, simply CANNOT be discarded, because someday the matching pieces, I'm certain, will magically appear.
The TV crew will exchange knowing glances before they move on to my bedroom.
My closet will elicit snorts of thinly disguised laughter. "So, these dusty clothes, crammed together on hangers, some with the tags still attached," they'll ask. "You need these?"
"Yes," I will shout. "I couldn't be bothered to try them on in the fitting room. And then I got home to find out they were apparently mis-sized. But they'll fit SOMEDAY, when I lose 20 pounds!" I will plead my case, though the tsk-tsking and bulimic hostess clearly doesn't understand the unpredictability of weight-loss goals and misleading clothing sizes. So what if one of the articles in question is a gauze jumpsuit? Someday, damn it, I WILL wear it. With pride.
They'll want to look in my sock drawer, and I will let them do so. I will tilt my chin with defiance when they comment on the lack of matching pairs. Because I know that every household in America has a drawer of unmatched socks. This is not the sign of a Hoarder. It is simply the universal lost battle with a greedy washer and dryer.
But then, sadly, they will descend the stairs into the depths of my basement. I will cower in the corner as they make their way through the maze of forgotten furniture and empty cartons. That old aluminum kitchen set? "But it still has one matching chair," I'll cry. The Epson computer, circa 1986? "A keepsake! An antique," I'll whimper, my sense of defeat growing. "Those 5-1/4-inch floppy disks are sure to be in demand again some day!"
The TV cameraman will nudge the hostess, and they'll alternately chuckle and sigh as the camera pans across the overflowing basement.
The last shot will settle on me, sobbing as I clutch a cardboard box of old record albums. I will pull out a copy of Saturday Night Fever.
"But, I got an LP digital converter for Christmas! And someday, I will transfer all of these," I will scream, waving the album in their faces. "Onto my iPod," I will add, for certain justification.
Oh, yes, there it is. A method for my madness. Some semblance of rationale for my hoarding behavior.
And someday, I'll find a magic converter for all those Tupperware lids too.