Ladies, I have a bone to pick with you. That TV show “Hoarders” came out a year ago, and you didn’t say a word. While I’ve been fretting about my failures on the housekeeping front and frantically lecturing my husband in Housekeeping 101 (“Just because ‘floor’ rhymes with ‘drawer’ ... ”), you sat in amused and knowing silence, with the perfect prescription clutched in your cagey little mitts: “Take two episodes of ‘Hoarders’ and call me in the morning.” That’s all you had to say.
The show makes me feel like a modern-day Donna Reed.
Embarrassed that the dust bunnies are whoring around under your bed all day while you’re at work? Meet Roland. He collects Pepsi Big Gulps and doesn’t flush his toilet paper because HE MIGHT NEED IT LATER.
If you’re just tuning in, “Hoarders” is a documentary-style program on A&E. Each episode follows two people whose compulsive hoarding has gotten so out of control they’re on the verge of losing their homes, and sometimes even their families. With professional help and a timer (TICK-TOCK!), the hoarders struggle to get their houses in order before they lose everything.
Because nothing cures mental illness like a deadline and a TV audience.
Watching this show is like driving by the scene of a car accident. On one hand, I feel guilty rubbernecking, but on the other, “Oh my God, she’s buying ANOTHER purse. And this one has a TAIL.” I stare in horror as the hoarder scampers out of TJ Maxx petting her new armadillo pocketbook and asking the cameraman, “How could I resist? It was 40 percent off!”
Right! I mean, you practically got the snout and paws for free!
Hoarding is one mental illness (perhaps the only mental illness) I can’t relate to. I was raised to believe that clutter is the cause of insanity, not the other way around. I would give my grandmother to Goodwill if she started collecting dust; meanwhile the hoarder, whose sofa has been displaced by a bluff of unopened bath salts and body scrubs will just scrunch up her nose and say, “I’m kind of a sucker for gift sets.”
A sucker for gift sets? Did you purchase that understatement on Home Shopping Network? When you have to wear special cleats to traverse the Mount Everest of cinnamon-scented candles standing between you and your refrigerator, I think we can safely say you are more than a “sucker for gift sets.”
Even more confounding are the people who live with hoarders. I’m not talking about the kids, of course; they have no choice in the matter. The spouses and life partners, however, who tolerate the landfill lifestyle are mystifying to me. They should wear special T-shirts to help them explain:
“HOARDERS. CAN’T LIVE WITH ’EM; CAN’T FIND THE FRONT DOOR.”
If my husband started hoarding, I would go out of my mind. If my husband leaves an unfinished can of Fresca on the counter I go out of my mind. Because I believe everything has a time and a place. And the Fresca’s time was when it was still carbonated. And its place is outside with the recycling, not lined up in the back hall with two empty coffee canisters, a milk carton, a mason jar, a handful of straws, and a length of grubby twine CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
“I’m saving that stuff for the kids to make art projects with,” my husband says.
Whenever, he says.
Excuse me while I go take another episode.
February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness for the leading cause of death in American women: heart disease. And perhaps no one will be sporting her red more proudly than 20-year-old Nashvillian Nykia Babb.
To read this and other Her Well-Being stories, click here.