2009-10-10 / News

Lighten up: Why do women save stuff?

By Dawn Weber

He has a dream.

He dreams of a manly place where no kids bug him, no wives nag him and no one needs anything from him. A tidy place where he can keep his tools and possibly park his car.

So it goes, on sporadic Saturdays here in beautiful downtown Brownsville, that my husband heads out to clean ‘his garage.’ He makes a great show of it. Banging and clanging and using the occasional *&%!-word.

That’s because our garage is full of it. Crap, that is. Old bicycles, hobby horses, tires and toys, used stereos, magazines, pop cans and sporting goods. Not to mention three stray cats and their litter-box. If it’s smelly, dusty or homeless, I can guaran-dang-tee you it lives in our garage.

On such a Saturday, he generally comes inside to ask questions like this:

Him: Hey. Do you want this (fill-in-the-blank-with-plasticfrom Nixon-administration)?

Me: Yes I want that! I might use it someday!

Him: But Honey, it’s broken. Also, you’re old. You’ll hurt yourself.

Me: Well, the kids might want to play with it!

Him: But it’s broken. And the spiders…

Me: Anyway, the memories! And it could be valuable. Keep it till I check Ebay.

Defeated, head down, he slinks away. Closes the garage door, gives up and heads to ‘his office’ (the bed). Flips on the Military Channel.

He says it’s my fault, the mess in the garage.

But here at the Weber Center for Completely Uninformed Social Research (WCCUSR), we have determined that this is indeed not my fault, because I have the female Packrat Gene.

This gene causes packrat women like me to think about, nay, ponder the sadness that will befall the household if Really Important and Necessary Stuff like baby shoes, Hot Wheels or Veterinarian Barbies end up in the Goodwill bag.

Several of my girlfriends also carry this gene. There’s Brenda, who moved three truckloads of antiques and furniture from California to Ohio - all for two people. Marlene regularly fills her garage with unwanted stuff from other folks’ garage sales. Another woman I know of saved the crayons her son used - 30 years ago.

Perhaps the Queen of my Packrat Friends, Sonia has kept the shirt her husband was wearing when she met him, a banana from her honeymoon breakfast (in a baggie) and her babies’ belly button stumps (more baggies).

And, true to form, all over the Midwest, our husbands dream of orderly tools and parked cars. Then they scratch their heads, lower the garage door and retire to ‘their offices.’ Flip on the Military Channel.

Why do packrat women save this stuff? I mean, besides the fact that it could become valuable on Ebay?

All I know is time flies by faster than a Wal-Mart bag in the wind. I can’t remember what happened last week, let alone 10 and 20 years ago, so I need this moldy old crap to remind me. Also, some stuff is just too precious to throw away. It’s just like that old Jim Croce song, the one that goes ‘’If I could save time in a baggie...’’

But it is true: the garage is a mess. A maze of storage boxes, broken bikes and overflowing recycling bins. Even I can’t ignore it anymore. It’s getting so bad that the three stray cats have reconsidered homelessness.

O.K., O.K., I hear you. One of these days, I’ll let my husband have his dream of an organized garage. I will fight my Packrat genes and he can toss some stuff. Yes sir, I’ll let him do that. Just as soon as I check it all out on Ebay.

Dawn Weber is a Brownsville wife and mother of two pre-teens who commutes daily to Columbus for her full-time job.

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