Why is it that Packrats and Would Chucks often dwell in the same habitat?
Is it because during the first blush of romance the female Would Chuck looks at the newspapers and magazines piling up on the chairs of a Packrat's bachelor pad and thinks, 'Finally! a man who reads?'
I know that there are many, many, many people out there who think they live with the king (or queen) of all packrats, but let me tell you, as politely as I can, that you are wrong.
That distinction, I'm afraid, belongs to me and the 5,600 square feet of space underneath my house that allows my husband to collect thousands upon thousands of very important things.
And for those of you who think a Packrat can be reformed, let me explain why they call us Would Chucks: We would chuck if we could chuck, but the Packrat just finds it, fishes it out of the trash and restores it to its unnatural habitat. Otherwise we’d be heralded worldwide as Do Chucks.
Yet the thing I didn't realize until recently was how Would Chucks who are also consumers -- folks who would normally throw out two items for every one they bring home -- enable their Packrat counterparts by adding to the inventory of things that will never go away.
In the end, most Would Chucks wind up being Packrats by proxy.
So it is with this in mind that I tell you, dear reader, although I love my husband, I also love when he's away on business for a few days.
For those 24 to 72 hours I am a free woman. Free to let my inner Would Chuck out. I am free to toss with wild abandon (the things that I buy) and straighten up without the eyes of consternation (and futility) upon me.
In 72 hours I can empty the cupboards in the kitchen of three-year-old spices; cracked cups, which followed us from apartments to house but have not seen a drop of coffee in their tenure in our employ; and nearly empty containers sitting on the shelves alongside their most recent replacements. I can rid the refrigerator of things we will never eat but seem a shame to waste.
During those precious 72 hours I can find appropriate boxes and put things inside of them. And where I put these things they stay. For three days the scissors are in the drawer with the utensils (where I always look for them) and the mail is sorted in the bins with our names. For three days nothing piles up on the counters, nothing is draped on chairs and everything that has a place is in it.
In that long weekend of casting out I reclaim my inner soul.
"What is that? Who cares, it's gone," I sing to myself as I pitch another little bit of something that mysteriously appeared and that we never use. Only the recycling piles up: Seventeen half canisters of ground cinnamon await reclamation, their long-stale contents down the drain and rinsed away. I vow to shop more wisely and resist impulse. I feel lighter and the weight of the chores seem lighter, too.
Of course when he finally comes home, kicks off his shoes and flings his coat toward the chair, missing it by mere inches, I'll be glad to see him, but I'll also be ready.
"Hey, where are you going?"
"To Target; apparently we need another coat rack."