Author: David C. Nutt
I pressed “play” on my digital recorder.
“See doc, I wasn’t always a hoarder. Yeah, I know what my place looks like right now, but if I didn’t have clutter, I’d have nothing at all.
I was up late watching a classic movie from the 80’s. I noticed during one scene, they had the same mug as I did. I laughed and went to get a cup of noodles thinking I’d use that same mug. But I couldn’t find it. No big deal. Moved four times since I got that mug. I didn’t think too much about it. “Three moves equals a fire,” as my Auntie always said.
About two weeks later, I was watching a stupid sit com re-run and noticed they had the same platter on display I had. I got up and went to where I keep that platter and it was gone. Thought I’d drop a load right there but shook it off ‘cause even I knew what I was thinking was crazy.
Then all sorts of things went missing- a pen holder with pens, and hole punch. Wound up on an episode of “The Office,” on the receptionist counter. A framed Currier and Ives print from my hallway. That one I saw in a bar scene on “Law & Order.” Then my Mom’s sewing basket disappeared. It went to “Golden Girls”. My Grandmother’s silver tea service- “Downton Abbey.” I was getting desperate. I moved all I could out to the shed, especially the real valuable stuff, heirlooms and the like. That worked for a while. Until I went to put more out there, and everything was gone including the plywood flooring. Two days later the shed was gone. Saw it on a “Brady Bunch” episode, exterior shot.
Finally, I figure out if I just stacked things in jumbles around the house, they couldn’t find things to take. They didn’t catch on… for a while. Then stuff started disappearing again. I had to get even more complex and disheveled. You know the rest. Nieces and nephews dropped by and now here I am in the looney bin. Can’t say I blame my family. Actually, I’m glad to be here. The stuff I took with me is safe, and I can breathe easier.”
I pressed “stop”. Now, after his death, I was here to help the family process their feelings as they emptied the contents of his home. I was first to be at his house, secured since his committal. A 30-yard dumpster in the driveway, another set for delivery the following day. Taking a deep breath, I unlocked the door and walked in. The air left my body as if I had been punched in the gut. The place was empty. I ran from room to room in the entire house, including the attic and basement. Nothing. No furniture, curtains, bedding, paper goods, not even cleaning supplies under the sinks. Nothing. When his relatives arrived, all of us shared our shock, our utter disbelief. Thieves. Obsessive-compulsive ones, at that.
Two days later I reported the theft of a family heirloom to the police- my great-grandmother’s wedding veil. It was set in a display case on my mantel. I filled out a report. Gave them pictures. Never thought I’d see it again.
But I did.
Last night, 1939 B&W classic, “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.” The Queen herself, wearing great-grandmothers veil. To her left on a table, the display case. I began packing stuff into boxes, hoping I wasn’t fighting a losing battle.