Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deal with It

We recently played a long night of cards with a ten-year-old family member who loves the game Uno! With six people at the table, we kept it pretty lively with reverses, draw two’s and wild card draw four’s. As plays flew back and forth, the colors changed as fluidly as a bad acid trip in the sixties.

The object of Uno is to play all the cards in your hand. You want to hold them close to the chest, so that the others can’t see how you are suited. You have to give the warning call when you are down to one card, or you risk being penalized by having to pick up two more.

Life, it seems, does not mimic Uno. At least in my house, we wear our colors on our sleeves. It’s a perennial come-as-you-are party.

Instead of dumping cards, we’re accumulating possessions faster than the space to store them. It’s shameful to admit that we have a storage unit to hold all of our stuff that doesn’t fit in the house. Out of sight, out of purpose?

Perhaps not: I often refer to our storage facility as marriage insurance – with things out of sight, clutter is reduced. It also has a lower back indemnity clause – my husband’s not toting heavy seasonal boxes in and out of our attic up and down the fold-down ladder in our garage that taunts, “Climb me, I dare you!”

Nonetheless, in this era where lean is cool again, it’s time to pinch the love handles of those possessions that are weighing us down and consider giving them the boot. Except that I can’t give the boot to my shoe collection – I need them, all fifty gazillion pairs of them. My overflowing closet is a caterpillar’s heaven.

Make that a hungry, hungry caterpillar if you examine our pantry and kitchen appliance closet. Our stacks of canned goods from the Carter administration make ours a habitat for inhumanity as we bicker over what to keep and what to toss. A good clear-out might convert it to a demilitarized zone.

If it has a motor, boasts an on/off switch, and makes a noise when it runs, then my husband is likely to buy it off a 3 a.m. infomercial. Embraced at first, they all follow the same stop-motion trek from countertop, to under counter, to closet, to garage, to storage. Like broken down satellites orbiting the earth, they begin their out-of-this-kitchen trajectory as soon as they’re launched from their cartons, ending up in peripheral drift as space junk.

Are you handing yourself another “Draw 4” instead of playing what you’ve been dealt? Does your space give you abundant peace or an abundance of peas? What’s taken up residence that ought to be tossed in the discard pile?

I’ve pledged to reduce our storage unit to half its size within two months. Rather than go all out, we’re still tapping it for spinal protection. I’d rather us be shouting Uno! than oh, no! the next time we’re shoving the Christmas tree back in its cubby. No one wants a truss in their stocking next year.