Commentary: Clutter

By Louis A. Zona

YOUNGSTOWN – Like so many other folks I never know what to do with stuff. I have a heck of a time throwing away anything. And I cannot rationalize my behavior when it comes to keeping or tossing.

Take for instance old magazines. There must have been a reason I kept that old Look magazine with Frank Sinatra on the cover. I guess the answer would be that I happen to like his music. But is it necessary to see the late singer in a photo wearing his favorite orange sweater?

And should I keep the dozens of CDs that clutter our family room? After all, who plays CDs anymore? And if you bought a new car recently you discovered that they no longer are equipped with CD players. As far as the car companies are concerned, they just clutter up your back seat anyway.

And what do you think about tossing out clothes that haven’t been worn in a year or so? My answer to that is to just find more space in the closet.

I like my clothes and have no plan to throw any away even if one of them begins to feel a little tight around the belly. 

My late father would never throw away an old tie, even that hand-painted baby that I bought at a church bazaar several summers ago. Dad would use them to tie back the tomato plants in his garden. On a few occasions, I looked out at his garden and saw a perfectly good one that managed to get mixed up with my throw-aways. Oh, the humanity!

This morning I counted the number of shoes that I no longer wear since they are a bit worn. But gee whiz – I hate to give up my shoes even if they’re ready to fall apart. My feeling is, with every item I decide to throw away, I will place another in the “to-save” pile.

And while we are on the topic of feet, I have no idea what happens to that sock that no longer has a mate. I would hate to include clutter when referring to single socks.

Where could one possibly be if it’s not in the dryer, not in the hamper, not in with my shoes, not stuck to my underwear, and definitely not in my socks drawer? The mystery of the single sock, when it finally unravels, will probably make it to the decluttering pile since not even Matlock or my mother’s favorite saint, St. Anthony, could locate that missing sock. 

As far as half-empty plastic bottles are concerned, it is a big fat no-no to toss them in the garbage because of what they do to the environment. So, the clutter problem is not relieved when they are thrown into the garbage heap.

Now let’s consider those puzzles that you bought 20 years ago but have a missing piece. What makes one crazy is finding out about the missing piece when you think that you have finished the puzzle only to spot that empty hole in the image of that complicated Jackson Pollock painting. And of course, you then shout out, “Why did it have to be a Jackson Pollock painting?” Woe is me! Woe is me!

I have no idea where those extra television remotes came from but I have managed to have a few that seem not to belong to any of my current or past television sets or cable boxes. I am reluctant to throw those old remotes into the trash barrel (even if I don’t have a trash barrel). But I wish that I did.

There is something downright scary about throwing away old technology. Can those things explode? Can I be arrested for doing that? 

Don’t you remember the tags underneath your new sofa warning you not to tear off this tag (or horrible things will happen to you)? In any case, you will never see me adding my old technology to my anti-cluttering campaign.

Jerry Seinfeld has this routine about men and their underwear. The gist of his comments center on how men let their underwear get beat-up. Men, according to Seinfeld, will wear underwear until it turns to dust.

Jerry could have been describing my underwear. But it is so comfortable and no way will I consider throwing it into the cluttering bin. No way!

We have all heard the warning from Mom or Grandma to make sure that your underwear is clean and without holes because you never know if an ambulance driver will look at your underwear. God forbid he should see holes in your underpants. 

In recent times I have been finding that excessive mail is cluttering up parts of my house. Of course, it is old mail that needs to be evaluated, either as clutter or non-clutter.

While I think of myself as definitely fighting clutter, the proof is in the pudding. I am a pansy when it comes down to getting rid of so much clutter. I did not even mention that my favorite pillow should be cluttered but I am not going to let that happen!