Ok. So. My hoarding tendencies are the subject of many a joke, jab, and lively family discussion. I have the “Room of Doom” on the second floor of my house. My car hasn’t been able to regularly accommodate passengers in quite some time. When I pack for the theatre, I look like I’m going on a year-long world cruise. Over the past several years, even I have grown weary with the sheer quantity of “stuff” I sort through on a regular basis. The peak of my horror, however, came three years ago when I got home late and Joe was watching TV, drinking a beer. I flipped the TiVo to the other tuner, questioning, “Why are we taping ‘Hoarders’?” His spit take said it all.
Joe thought it was HILARIOUS to record this show, illustrating my future.
I’m getting better. I am. I throw out more. I acquire less. I stop accepting “donations” from friends cleaning out their own stashes. Monday, though, I decided to blame Nancy Drew for my pack-ratting, at least as it relates to my car.
I grew up reading the Nancy Drew series. My grandmother kept the books that my mother and aunts enjoyed in the 50s and 60s. The thrill of visiting “Grandma’s Library” in the basement (“the cellah” as only a New Yorker can articulate) still gives me a giggle of anticipation. In the 80s I read a new, updated Nancy Drew series. They were scary! There were more predators, a definitive threat of sexual danger, and lots of feathered bangs. By the 90s, as I should have outgrown my pal and her adventures, Nancy was back to her roots: her strawberry blonde or auburn hair (depending on the ghost-writer) was blowing in the breeze as the sped to Ned’s house in her roadster. One of the constants, though, was Nancy’s over-night bag, conveniently located in her car at all times. Nancy had her essentials in her handbag, in her car, in her suitcase; I vowed to be like Nancy. It was a great idea: be prepared for spontaneous overnights without compromising clean clothes or hygiene.
My 21st century version of this preparedness may be excessive. Let’s go back to the day of my “Blame Nancy Drew Epiphany.”
Monday I discovered that my yoga capris were see-through. Although I endured the problem at my all-women running club, running errands presented a problem. Do strangers need to see my underwear? I simply reached into the backseat and selected one of FIVE sweatshirts from the pile of clothes, tied the hoodie around my waist, and hopped out of the car. When I think about it, the stash of “stuff” in my car has come to the rescue multiple times over the past twelve years. Highlight reel:
2014: See through pants story isn’t enough? How about this: I’m helping a friend with her school production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. An actor doesn’t show up for the second show and a prepared cast member is ready to go onstage and woo Prince Eric. The only caveat is that the absent actor has taken her costume home. I head to my trusty steed (a Ford Escape) and dig out six different costume dresses for the young lady to try on. Crisis averted.
2012: My three oldest niblings are spending most of their time with me. We have our adventures and whenever a moment of boredom sets in one of them will say, “Can I just go to car and find something?” James, Mychaela, and Jack even have their OWN hoards in the car: bags of school supplies, random rocks collected, and other necessary talismans of childhood. Incidentally, for several years now, one of their favorite things to do is climb on the car, acting as though their scaling a mountain. Jack likes to take a plastic measuring tape from the car, scale the mountain with it as his harness, then sit atop the SUV and transform his harness to a fishing pole, “fishing” from the roof.
2008: A friend and I drive to Princeton, NJ for another friend’s aunt’s funeral. Sitting in the procession of cars outside the mausoleum, we’re starving. It’s snowing. Roads are bad. Panic is setting in for my passenger. Pack rat to the rescue! From the shopping-bag laden bag seat comes Corn Pops, pretzels, Cheeze Its, and Skittles. Same funeral, after the luncheon: What to do with all the leftovers?! Ford Escape to the rescue; I had brand new packages of Rubbermaid plastic food storage containers.
2007: The running joke at the theatre is now, “Juliet has one in her car.” I always do.
2004: I worked an hour away, had just met Joe, and was bouncing between home, NYC, and Philadelphia. My sporty little car looked like a closet, but I was never without a complete toiletry set and awesome shoes.
2003: Now a regular party-goer in a new circle of friends, I have the brilliant idea to play beer pong (Beirut, by Gettysburg College terminology). We set up a table and cups and teams….no ping pong balls. Hoarding to the rescue! From my car comes a bag of pool toys and swim lesson “accessories” including six ping-pong balls.
2002: The newbie to the aforementioned circle of friends, I was the hero producing a silver Sony boom-box from the depths of my trunk at a backyard party desperate for some music.
Folding table for the Farmer’s Market? Still in my car. Need two folding chairs? Got ’em. Forget make-up when you left the house this morning? I have new and used. Unexpectedly stuck somewhere? Allow me to offer eight or ten books for your literary enjoyment.
I know it’s a stretch. I like my stuff and I really like having whatever you might need at any given moment. I am getting better. I’ve set a goal for myself- clean, organized car by the close of September. Nancy Drew was a big fan of goals, too.
I stumbled upon a tiny book five or six years ago. Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick was an adorable Hallmark store find: a throw back to my youth and perfect addition to my coffee table books. There’s no section on hoarding, per se, but Chapter 8 “Accoutrements” has a much nicer ring.