Tough Stuff

Help! I’m being stuff-ed to death! – not stuffed as in scarecrow, nor stuffed as I will invariably be Thanksgiving Day. This type of stuff-ed is insidious – a dastardly plot to bite the hand that bought it.

I’ve come to learn that the stuff which I thought I couldn’t live without – had to have or would keel over and die on the spot – possesses strange and mystical powers, not the least of which being the ability to seduce me into purchasing it in the first place. Since it’s come to live with me, though, I’ve discovered its true, darker intentions. Slowly this stuff is beginning to gather together with other stuff. Ganging up, it is gradually but steadily taking over my home. Last year the stuff laid claim to the little room behind the kitchen, a spot the original owners intended as a small office. The room now appears to be Command Central for the stuff’s offensive attack. We lost the battle for the garage several years ago, and the spare bedroom upstairs is now on the endangered list.

This heinous conspiracy is being carried out by the very stuff that promised to make my life perfect. Stuff – like the light lavender pillows with the seashell buttons that was going to look great on the couch, but didn’t. Stuff – like the huge exercise ball that was going to tighten my abs, but didn’t no matter how hard I stared at it. Stuff – like the Serenity fountain that was going to bring me peace, but didn’t when the pump motor drowned out the soothing sound of its trickling water.

There is the set of clear, plastic drink glasses which seemed great for outdoor summer get-togethers – only we never had anyone over because, whether scientists agree or not, global warming is here and triple digits temperatures give the term “backyard BBQ” a whole, new meaning. So the glasses remain in the bag since I don’t have a place for them in the kitchen as the shelves are already full of other stuff.

While my husband chooses to believe that stuff only belongs to me, he has his own set, though we don’t call it that. We call it “his tools” – this is sacred stuff. He possesses every size, shape, and model of tool ever made. We’re equipped to repair anything in the world, except the stuff we have.

Let me share with you what I have learned about the unique properties of stuff.

First, stuff is indestructible, which doesn’t mean that it’s not breakable. In fact stuff breaks a lot, but there is a rule that says you can’t get rid of it because you paid too much to throw it away, but it costs too much to fix. And believe me there is no truth to the rumor that if you leave stuff alone long enough, it will repair itself. I’ll attest to the fallacy of that myth. Our garage is a virtual graveyard of broken vacuum cleaners, paper shredders and printers, yet to date there’s been no spontaneous resurrections.

Second, stuff attracts other stuff. I strongly advise you heed this warning for as soon as you place a few items of stuff in the corner of a room, it takes on a magnetic quality, quietly attracting other stuff to it. Then before you know it – BAM! The entire room is filled. That’s how we lost the little room – it was gone before we knew it.

Third, stuff procreates in the dark – especially in closets, and nothing is more prolific than shoes. They’re worse than pet rabbits. Personally, I suspect that’s what got Imelda in so much trouble a few years ago. You can’t turn your back on them.

Fourth, buying stuff isn’t the only way you acquire it. Sometimes you inherit it. This is often the worst kind of stuff because it comes with an endearing, sentimental quality that makes it particularly difficult to shed.

Fifth, over time stuff assumes an invisible quality to you. You can look right at it and not see it, though this is not true of your friends and family who can see every bit of it, even the stuff stashed in the drawers and closets.

Sixth, there’s not enough time left in the universe for the monetary value of your stuff to increase enough for you to realize a gain, let alone a windfall. Let’s be honest – it’s junk and it will remain junk for the millennium.

Seven, no matter how many garage sales you have to rid your home of stuff, there’s always more stuff to get rid of.

So, as you can see, this is some tough stuff we are dealing with. Here’s a scary thought: if stuff is growing at this alarming rate in my house, what is happening at the landfills where massive amounts of stuff congregate. Is all that stuff banning together to take over the planet?

Forget terror, its time to start the War on Stuff.

Author’s Note: This appeared in the Almanac of Arlington Heights.