Monday, April 21, 2008

Frogman vs. The giant pack-rat

Saturday, with the drywall all up in the basement, we went downstairs to begin the clean up. Because the boys rooms join the room we were drywalling (thankfully the bedrooms were already drywalled) they were a little dusty as well. Lucas and Brett share a room and while it's usually surface clean (everything looks put away and neat), every once in a while you have to don the Hazmat gear and get down and dirty. I was about half way done with going through the clothes in Lucas' dresser when I asked Brett to strip the sheets off of his bed.

That's when I noticed it. Under his bed, were boxes and several shopping bags, all stuffed to the brim. As I started to go through them, Brett looked stricken. I thought for sure I'd find something of value, maybe a purloined Playboy or two. What I got instead were broken toys, hand outs from the science fair a year ago, an IOU written on a paper napkin, a ton of fabric scraps, none of them bigger than a deck of cards, 37 issues of a comic he drew up called Frogman, countless pages of old school assignments, pens without tops, and pencils the size of his pinky finger. All of it absolutely essential to his existence, according to him.

"See I need these because when the teacher asks, I don't have a pencil, I half a pencil!" he cried when I tried to throw them into the trash bag.
Each thing he begged me to keep and mourned when I tossed.

I felt suddenly dirty and all weird. As if I'd lived next door to a person for years and then suddenly discovered that they'd been boarding a small crocodile in their bathtub and liked to cross-dress.

And, then I looked years down the line. His children and grandchildren coming to visit him in his old musty house. Newspapers stacked up eye level. The dining room table chairs filled with fruitcakes and boxes of Russell Stovers candy still in their wrappers, because 'Those were gifts, I'm saving them for a special occasion'.

I thought about calling Geekie brother up to complain, maybe get some insight into the mentality when I remembered something he'd once told me. "The floor is the biggest shelf in my condo."

And so, I shrugged and gave Brett the Frogman comics, his drawings, and a few broken toys to round out the collection. And then, I told him to keep his crocodile hidden in the bathtub.

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