Tim Sample: Stories I Never Told You

My stuff

Tue, 10/15/2013 - 8:00am

I was surprised the other day when I received an Internet order for a cassette tape of one of my early ’80s comedy albums.

Though the cassette market has cooled off in recent decades, I believe in planning ahead. So I keep a few on hand for folks like Isaac in Brooklyn, N.Y. who just shelled out $9.95 for one of these fine collector’s items. Having already recouped my production costs during the Reagan administration, I make a decent profit on each sale. Which is part of the problem.

Ah yes, that problem. Where to begin? Did I mention that I keep “a few” on hand? Forgive me. I meant to say “a few hundred.” At $10 a pop, that’s still a lot of money, right? Well, sort of. At the current sales rate it will take approximately three and a half centuries to move the remaining inventory. Not exactly a “get rich quick” scheme — and it gets worse.

You know those creepy horror movies where a crowd of zombies dressed in moldy OshKosh B-gosh overalls and John Deere caps threatens to overwhelm the village of Pleasantville? Well, something eerily similar seems to be happening to me.

Thankfully, there are no actual zombies involved. But I have found myself besieged by a remarkably similar horde (the operative word here should probably be spelled “hoard”) of unwelcome visitors. In my case, the “things,” creating all this havoc are just as lifeless, yet weirdly animated, as any member of “the living dead” ever was.

The way I figure it, a malevolent aggregation of inanimate objects appears to have been following me at a discrete distance for some years now. At this very moment it is garrisoned in my garage, lurking in my laundry room and barricaded in my basement with what I assume to be nefarious intent, quite possibly involving a final assault on my fragile sanity.

Henceforth I shall refer to this mob by its proper scientific name “My Stuff.” That’s right. It’s all mine. There’s absolutely nobody else to blame. Step by treacherous step, one innocent little impulse-purchase at a time, I alone have singlehandedly created this monster!

Readers of faint heart might want to turn away at this point. But, if you think you have the stomach for it, let’s take a peek shall we?

See? Right there, at the bottom of my basement stairs, next to the pile of cassette tapes, there are several massive industrial size rolls of bubble wrap. You know, the stuff you use when you’re packing up fragile household items.

How long has that been there? Five years? Ten? Who in heck knows? I do know that if I ever need to cut up 1,400 feet, 6 and a half inches of bubble wrap, one of the 39 pairs of scissors I own will certainly come in handy.

How, you ask, do I know the exact length of my bubble wrap collection? That’s easy. I measured it with one of the 17 retractable metal measuring tapes I have ferreted away in various drawers around the house. See what I mean?

Take that massive, hermetically sealed plastic carton of Legos in the garage (please!) It’s been there since our oldest boy left for college. I’ll bet there are enough Legos in there to build a structure suitable for human habitation. Darn! I should have donated it to the “Occupy” movement when I had the chance.

Let’s see what else? Oh yeah, a half dozen table lamps, some mismatched folding chairs, a box of portable cassette players, cameras, and CD players, a nice old boom box with an improvised coat hanger antenna, a perfectly serviceable seat from a 1980 Honda motorcycle … (sigh).

It’s not as though I haven’t tried getting rid of this stuff. Yet, somehow, despite yard sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, the town dump, eBay and Craigslist, “My Stuff” is still here.

Unlike the Hollywood version, only time will tell whether this story has a happy ending. But I’m not going down without a fight. If I haven’t looked at it in a year, out it goes! If charities won’t take it, the dump certainly will.

I don’t know if that box of baseball cards contains a Honus Wagner and I don’t particularly care. Out it goes! My loss is your gain.

Of course, simply eliminating items already here won’t work unless I can also find a way to disrupt enemy supply lines.

Recently I’ve employed a sophisticated form of Psychological Operations. When tempted to buy something, I gaze intently at the desired object, while imagining it on a yard sale table.

I’ll keep you posted on the results. But, so far, it seems to be working!