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By Staff | Nov 28, 2014

“Where is that thingamajig?” I called out to my wife as I pawed though the junk drawer.

“What thingamajig?” she called back.

“You know. The one that I have to use to adjust the legs on the washing machine.”

“I think it’s in the junk drawer.”

“That’s where I’ve been looking and I am not seeing any thingamajig!”

“Not that junk drawer. The one over on the right.”

“Never mind. I found it in the bottom junk drawer.”

So goes another exciting Saturday night at the Nelson farm.

I find this troubling on several levels. For one, I was actually looking for a doohickey and misspoke when I said “thingamajig.” But I didn’t want to tell my wife – good ol’ what’s-her-name – lest she think that I’m growing forgetful.

Second of all, how many junk drawers do we have? Are they multiplying? Will we be digging for something someday and discover that our junk drawers have junk drawers?

And most importantly, where do you draw the line between someone who is wisely conserving their resources and an overly-passionate hoarder who gets a syndrome named after them?

My wife and I have developed a storage system for our stuff that we call “pilot.” That is, we pile it here and we pile it there until we grow tired of re-piling the stuff and throw it out. Then we go buy new stuff.

The same system can be seen in the way we use our refrigerator. The fridge is basically just a place where we store leftover food until it’s time to give it to the dog.

“Where’s that last slice of pizza?” I may ask my wife after scanning and rescanning the contents of the refrigerator until I have stood in front of its open doors long enough for icicles to form on my buttons.

“I tossed that out to the dog a long time ago,” she might reply.

“What? That pizza was still good.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. It was made during the Eisenhower Administration. It had more life forms on it than the floor of a boy’s high school locker room.”

We have all been in homes which are kept so impeccably clean that you suspect its owners chase after individual dust mItes so as to capture them before they can land on anything.

The sort of home that would make Martha Stewart look like a pitiful slob.

And we have also visited homes that are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Homes that don’t have floors or walls, only paths between the soaring stacks of stuff.

You don’t dare sneeze lest you set off an avalanche and have to be rescued by a St. Bernard that has been specially trained to sniff out people who have been buried by junk.

Knowing my luck, the dog would have consumed the contents of his brandy cask by the time he found me.

Our home is somewhere between these extremes. Because we are in the holiday season and might have guests, a flurry of cleaning and rearranging and chucking out has been taking place recently.

“What are these keys for?” asked my wife during one of our housecleaning forays.

“Good grief. Those are for the ’74 Pinto that we traded off 30-some years ago. That tinny little car was probably taken straight to the recycler and turned into Spam cans.”

“So should we throw out these keys or not?”

“I dunno. Let’s put them in the ‘maybe’ pile.”

The shop/garden shed is my exclusive domain, so my wife has nothing to do with how and where the tools are stored. Which means that things are pretty messy out there.

To the untrained eye, my shop might look as if it had just been hit by a small indoor tornado. But I know exactly where everything is. Kind of.

To within 30 feet or so.

Last summer I told my wife that I was going to mow the lawn and thus needed the checkbook.

“Why would you need the checkbook to mow the lawn?”

“Because. The mower’s grommet confabulator needs adjustment and it takes a special tool to do that. So I’m going to run to town and buy one.”

“But I thought you already had a confabulator doodad.”

“I do. Technically. OK, I admit it. I can’t find the dumb thing. It’s out there in the shop somewhere but it’s decided to hide from me. It’ll be a lot quicker if I just go buy a new one.”

“Well, you’ll have to help me find the checkbook first. I think it’s somewhere here in one of these junk drawers.”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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