We all have dirty little secrets around our home. Perhaps it's the junk drawer that can't possibly hold another tape dispenser or pack of batteries, or maybe it's the coat closet that has 40 pair of shoes in the bottom. Whatever the case is, when it's in your house and it's hidden, only you know about it so it remains your dirty little secret.
Well, we have a couple dirty little secrets in our house. Some are my responsibility, others are Wendy's, but regardless they drive each of us nuts. The problem is that as long as they remain secret and we have other projects to take care of, they will either stay the way they are or just continue to get worse.
Today I'm taking the opportunity to call out one of these secret stash locations by publicly shaming its creator...Wendy. Perhaps this is a call to action, or perhaps an intervention, but either way it's dealing with an issue that has reached its breaking point as far as I'm concerned and it needs to change. Besides, what's not fun about a little public intervention?
Ok, before I go any further and have everyone on the Internet whispering about what an awful, horrible, and downright deplorable husband I am for exposing this aspect of our life (gasp, he's talking about their hidden junk area), please realize that Wendy is a willing participant in this intervention. I'm also relatively sure I will get my own intervention in the coming days or weeks, so please, don't cry for me Wendy, Argentina.
And now we can continue with our virtual intervention.
Our kitchen is horrible. No, really, it's a joke. We've done all we can along the way to turn it into something useable and useful, but it is really somewhat terrible. It's a large room but the layout is awful. The cabinets are all jammed into one corner, there's little storage, the lighting is subpar, the appliances are dated and there's no storage. Did I mention there's no storage?
It's for this reason that back in 2003 we bought and refinished an large storage hutch to go on the unused opposite wall of the kitchen. This hutch has worked great. It stores and displays a few of our glassware items behind doors, has a few drawers full of various kitcheny stuff, and holds larger items in the two lower cabinet doors (hello Kitchen-Aid mixer and cookbooks). It's a kitchen workhorse.
The thing is, this kitchen workhorse also hides Wendy's dirty little secret. While all of the compartments are full of useful and kitchen-related items, Wendy ran out of places to keep her various bags that she wanted to save. Being an environmentally conscious and economically savy consumer that she is, Wendy likes to reuse shopping bags as much as possible. This is especially true for larger paper bags, specialty boxes, canvas/fabric bags, and other qualifying containers.
So what is an environmentally conscious and economically savvy consumer to do when she runs out of space for her bags? She creates new space for those bags...behind the utilitarian yet attractive hutch cabinet. You can see the edge of a Trader Joe's bag winking at you from around the back side, starting to spill over.
Honestly, I know what you may be thinking. "That's not so bad, it's just the edge of a bag. Just tuck that sucker back there and call it a day." But this is along the same lines as those guys on the Titanic that said "Hey, look ahead, there's a little floating chunk of ice peeking up out of the water, let's go ahead and bump it and push it out of our path so we can be on our way." We all know how that one turned out. (Okay, so I've probably taken a bit of creative license with my interpretation of the events that unfolded on the Titanic.)
Last week I decided that enough was enough. After returning from a shopping trip and realizing the bags we brought back had nowhere to live, and hearing how a few days prior one of the bags had slid down and turned the kitchen and patio lights out on Wendy, I decided to liberate and organize the mass of shopping containers held captive behind our kitchen hutch. The aftermath of the liberation movement was emotional and shocking.
A plethora of shopping bags had been freed and were attempting to organize a revolt to overtake our kitchen. It was complete and utter havoc, and I nearly had to don a set of riot gear to hold them back. The occupy our kitchen with shopping bags movement had commenced, and it was up to me to get it under control.
Yes, that's a veritable mountain of shopping bags that Lulu is standing on and looking dejected about. I agree with Lulu, it was a horrible realization. She was ashamed, I was ashamed...we were both ashamed that we had let this sickness go for as long as we had. It was as much on us as it was Wendy, we had enabled her...condition...through complete inaction. The collection of bags highlighted the past three years of purchases at stores who have profit margins that are apparently high enough to afford nice bags. Grocery, boutique, clothing, winery, and other stores comprised this what's what of our interests.
We had bags from around Old Town, as far west as Napa Valley, and as far east as Sweden. Wendy the bag lady had bags that covered roughly half of the world! There were bags in perfect condition, and others completely torn and unusable. If there is one thing for certain, we had enough bags shoved behind that hutch to last us through a nuclear fallout. You need lots of bags for those, don't you?
Rather than take the brute force route and throw everything in the trash (probably causing a hoarders-like breakdown that would surely bring Wendy to swearing at the camera men and threatening to off herself with the bags), I took the obsessive compulsive route and organized them into piles of like bags. I figured we could still use many of them, but they just needed to be put in a better place in a neat and tidy fashion.
Once all was said and done, we were looking at 90 bags. Yes, I said 90, with a nine and a zero. Ninety! I couldn't believe they all fit behind that innocent looking piece of kitchen furniture.
We went through the bags, determined which ones should be tossed, which kept, how I might publicly shame Wendy on the Internet, and where to store the ones we were keeping.
To be honest, it really felt good to take care of the mess, but I know it felt better for me than for Wendy. She didn't really care as long as she couldn't see the bags, but I could always see them. I was also always worried about the possibility of a fire hazard, but that's mostly because I'm paranoid.
After everything was said and done, Wendy had a small pile of about 12 bags she had to decide how she'd prefer to handle. I had to catch her as she walked back towards the hutch to slide them behind...out of sight, out of mind. I told her that this was an intervention after all. You don't see Dr. Drew offering Charlie Sheen a hit of blow after getting him to kick his drug habit. Today the cabinet remains free of bags, and Wendy the bag hoarder has done well thus far.
Wait, what?? Wendy just informed me I don't know where her new secret stash is hidden. <sigh> I guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But as long as they're not sparking a fire behind the hutch in the kitchen, I still consider the intervention a success. And how fitting is today's post about Wendy, the hoarding bag lady on the day after she posted about the best contractor grade garbage bags?
Stay tuned as Wendy brings up some of my horrible secrets. I think I know what her focus will be on, but I want to point out that I neatly arranged her mess for her, and then helped to put it away, so I hope the same treatment will be afforded during my virtual intervention. Wishful thinking I guess.
So what are your dirty little house secrets? I hope they're not too bad. I mean, nobody wants to hear about piles of garbage and dead cats. If you leave a comment like that, I'm calling Matt Paxton of Hoarders and he's coming to your place.
Not to be outdone, Wendy proceeded to call me out of my disaster area of the house. Don't miss her post on the basement. I have to admit, I'm quite ashamed. FYI, thus far there has been no assistance for me on cleaning the basement, just sayin...
Photo credit: CBS, How I Met Your Mother