I am the keymaster

Where does collecting end and hoarding begin?

Courtesy Poop or Chocolate

I’m just wondering. Where do you keep your stash of mystery keys — the kitchen junk drawer, that old shoe box in the back of the closet, a jar under the sink? Maybe you carry them around on a hernia inducing ring or at the end of a chain that hooks through your belt loop and can double as a towing rig for a ditch-bound semi-tractor trailer truck. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t have at least a little hoard secreted away in your home or on your person. Anonymous keys are like in-laws; everyone has more than they want, but it’s nigh on impossible to get rid of them.

Everyone, that is, but me.

Oh the shame.

That’s right, I threw them all away — the keys, I mean — every single unidentifiable or disused one in the great unruly tangle that has been dragging me down for the past fifteen years, and lately has caused the pantry door where they’ve been hanging to list with their combined weight. It took three hours, reading glasses as thick as Coke bottles, a nuclear-powered flashlight and approximately fifty trips up and down the stairs, but with the aid of some very strong coffee (combined with just a suggestion of Irish whiskey) I have liberated myself from the enslavement of key hoarding and thrown off the shackles of the pack rat. Plus, the pantry door now closes properly. Win win.

So what exactly moved me to take on this hellish task, I’ll bet you’re asking. In a word, Hoarders. For me, the lure of this program is not unlike the inexorable pull of a crate of filthy, disused housewares for the subjects of this show. Utterly and completely irresistible. I cannot pass a listing in the cable guide without tuning in. The nastier, the viler, the crazier the situation, the more I watch. It’s like heroin. Or Cheez Doodles. One fix is too many, but a hundred ain’t enough as Nick Lowe says. I’m “a fish with a hook in its lip” before the opening credits even start to roll.

Now, I know what you’re wondering: is my house cluttery? Nope, not even a little. In fact, I’m what Grammie Sue called “nasty neat.” My family members have even been known to use the term “neat freak” when they think I’m out of earshot, though I have it on good authority I’m not even on the OCD spectrum. I just like a little control of my environment. Nothing wrong with that.

Let go of those keys or this may be you in ten years.
Courtesy happyblackwoman.com.

No, it wasn’t the possibility — however remote — of filling up entire rooms with disused keys, ornamental fobs and orphaned padlocks that pushed me to finally purge. It was the image of my future self sitting on the floor, agonizing while picking through stacks of potentially “useful” crap, wearing extra large spandex shorts and a size 24 tank top that fueled the great key catharsis.

That and the rats.

Every Hoarders episode I’ve watched, and I daresay there are very few that have escaped my notice, makes reference to rodents and their  droppings in the homes of the hoarders.  And this terrifies me.

There was one show where the cleaners started shoveling up stuff in a hallway and they disturbed a massive mouse nest and all the mice went scurrying in about a hundred different directions. Some even attached themselves to the cleaner’s shirt! If I were living like that, there would really be only two ways it could go. Either the filth would make it impossible to enjoy a life giving cocktail in the evening or I’d start happy hour at nine in the morning. I suspect that for Mr. Slattern either would be grounds, and we can’t have that.

So right, but not with everything. Courtesy Jimmy Choo.

So I tossed my keys, and good riddance. Of course, I suspect the issue of my shoes may yet be lurking. Last night, I found Mr. Slattern in the closet, and he appeared to be counting the boxes. Is sixty pairs too many? Hardly. Some of those have barely even been worn, and you know how the right shoe just makes your outfit. And no, one pair of black slingbacks is not appropriate with almost everything, because my trousers are hemmed to accommodate particular heel heights and I can’t have the hems dragging on the floor or worse riding at a high water mark because that would ruin the look and I’d be stressed and uncomfortable in the outfit which has been known to lead to excessive consumption at parties or social events and anyway they’re already bought and paid for and nobody buys used shoes so what’s the sense of throwing them out just because I haven’t worn them recently even though I could if I wanted to but I don’t need to get rid of any because that’s a carefully curated collection. It’s VALUABLE.

I notice, however, that Mr. Slattern’s key ring is looking a bit bulky lately.

About WSW

Writer, wife, mother. Toiler in the bottomless, black, soul-sucking coal mine of domestic life. Thank God for the portable bar.

Posted on June 25, 2012, in Life and times, The Slattern Speaks and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I used to have a draw full of keys, but then morning I woke up to find them gone with only a note remaining. It said that the Gatekeeper now had all the keys. 🙂

  2. Snoring Dog Studio

    I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders after reading about the key tossing. I can’t watch that Hoarders show. I think about all the dirt and grime underneath all that junk and cringe. To imagine mice and mouse droppings as well – my stomach turned.

  3. My family got nominated for the hoarders-like show “Consumed,” but my dad backed out because he likes being a hoarder.

  4. I’m feeling like a new person just reading this. Clean. Uncluttered. Sparkly. Less wrinkled.

  5. Ever think that the 60 pairs of shoes might need some purging as well? Purge them this way! 😉

  6. Too funny! I’m with you on the purging, I started reading all these articles on minimalist living and while I won’t go that far, it did inspire me to continue the lean living. Hoarders will SCARE you into living leaner, that’s for sure! And I’m with you on the shoes, I only have 30 pairs and they are all lovely and WAYYY too small to fit a regular sized person’s feet anyway so I might as well keep them, by golly! Cheers to you, Mrs. Slattern.

  7. I like to watch Hoarders, then an episode or two of Intervention and I feel much better about my housekeeping and occasional forays into alcohol-induced oblivion.

  8. Got a pile of books. Yeah, thet’re reaching critical mass and the local used bookstore shut down. The library is pissed at me and I can’t step foot inside. So I’d be forced to deposit them at night into the mailbox they’ve got for late returns. BHA (Book Hoarders Anonymous) is an option but meetings cut into reading time. I don’t want a camera crew document an intervention. Help!

  9. “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” which its authors—the anthropologists Jeanne Arnold, of U.C.L.A., Anthony Graesch, of Connecticut College, and Elinor Ochs—describe as a “visual ethnography of middle-class American households.” Lavishly illustrated with photographs (by Enzo Ragazzini) of the families’ houses and yards, the book offers an intimate glimpse into the crap-strewn core of American culture. (from Spoiled Rotten of July 2, 2012 New Yorker)

    It’s apparently in our cultcha.

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