Do you have a collection or decor item that you really enjoy but your spouse dislikes/despises? I think a lot of people can answer a resounding "YES" to that question.

Perhaps it's a comfy chair better left on the front porch of your fraternity house. Maybe it's a childhood keepsake that you love to proudly display, but your spouse would rather not admit you own. Or maybe it's that talking fish you'd like to marvel at mounted above your mantle, but there is no chance your significant other will remain married to you if it ever sees the light of day (give me back that Filet-O-Fish, give me that fish).

In our case the collection in question happens to be bobbleheads. More specifically, it's my collection of every Washington Nationals bobblehead that has ever been given out since the Nationals began playing in Washington, D.C. in 2005. If you just said to yourself "wow, Alex is sort of obsessed, a little bit juvenile, and certainly weird," it's a fair assessment that I won't argue with you about.

I bring up this rather sensitive subject now because a rare event occurred last weekend. April 14th was Stephen Strasburg bobblehead day at Nationals Park. Oh yeah, it was an event.

I have to admit, I'm a collector. I've been collecting various things since I was a young kid. Baseball cards, football cards, Garbage Pail Kids, Star Wars toys and replica props (nerd alert), and various sports memorabilia. Wendy says I'm a hoarder, but I feel that label is a bit severe for an aficionado such as myself. Since we moved in together nearly 12 years ago we've compromised on many things, and I've slowly been shown the error of my ways. Perhaps trying to proudly display everything I collect is "tacky" or "cluttered" and "unattractive," but it was the way I knew from childhood, and I needed to be broken of this habit like a wild horse needs to be broken for a saddle. Thanks to Wendy ("the Alex Whisperer") I now know that to truly appreciate these things in a tasteful way, some moderation is required. She's a wise woman, that Wendy.

My room once looked like a low budget sports card store with framed stadium posters all over the walls. My most valuable and cherished baseball cards were displayed on shelves, sitting there for all guests to appreciate. 

Jerseys and baseballs littered the room in a seemingly random order, no priority, no aesthetic, just there, acting as sentimental clutter.

Yes folks, that's the room of an adult man-child, a 24 year old version of myself. I think if I were left to my own devices, my house would look an awful lot like Jimmy Fallon's place in Fever Pitch, just with Indians and Nationals stuff, not all of that Red Sox garbage. :-)

I have to give Wendy a ton of credit, I know how much this...ahem...affliction of mine must have driven her nuts, and she patiently and gently helped me see a better way to handle my collections. Slowly over several years she would help me to arrange things in a more visually pleasing manner. This often meant putting away many of the things that were typically stuffed onto shelves without an inch to spare. Essentially, Wendy was acting like a home stager for my collections, removing two thirds of what I had so that I could appreciate the important remainder. Again, "the Alex Whisperer" at work.

I think Wendy will be the first to admit, I've done pretty well since those early days. I still collect things that are important to me, but it isn't nearly like what I used to do. When I do add something to my collections, I either find storage for them or allow them to replace something else that's already out. But sometimes, and I mean only a very rarely sometimes, I have a bit of a relapse, and it usually has to do with bobbleheads.

Yes, those hydrocephalic caricatures of major league baseball players and mascots get me every time. I want them all and I want to show everyone I have them all. When you're a Nationals fan the fact your shelves are stocked with these nodding fools shows the pain and suffering you've endured rooting for last place teams that have frequently been the worst team in all of baseball. 

At the time of this post, the team is in first place and playing in a respectable manner (yeah, I just jinxed it, I know), so it's even more reason to be proud. But oddly enough, placing the Nationals Racing presidents on our dining room mantel...

...or the Mascot, Screech, on our living room mantel just doesn't seem to go with the general feel of the decor within our house that we're trying to accomplish (or so I'm told). Go figure.

So back to compromise and reasonability we go, kicking and screaming along the way. I mean, just because something makes sense and is probably right doesn't mean I have to like it.

I know I'm complaining quite a bit, but it's largely in jest. Wendy has declared our home office as the space where my various collections should live. This actually works quite well for me. It's one of the rooms of the house where I spend a large amount of time and where I can appreciate my mementos the most.

In this room there are three primary areas where I can proudly display my personal treasures in a tactful and mature manner.

The first is in an antique oyster basket that Wendy picked up in Luckett's Virginia a few years back. I absolutely love baseball and go to a lot of games. I also tend to go for batting practice and also usually sit very close to field level. This has resulted in dozens of caught balls. Many I give away to kids sitting nearby, but I often bring several home. This antique oyster basket is my caught ball repository, and the collection goes back 15-20 years. I just love that I have a place to toss them when I get back from a game with a used baseball in my pocket.

Next to the basket we have a beautiful antique bookcase in our office. I'm able to put a handful of items that I really like in here, and because they are behind glass doors, there's no chance they'll mysteriously fall from the shelves and break. 

This is where I store my prized presidential bobbleheads. I think George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy enjoy their life in this case, after all, they have Major League's Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn and Screech in there for entertainment. I mean, I do have at least one Indian in the cupboard.

And finally, we have the glass inlays on the built in desk shelves. This area is reserved for my extra special baseballs that I've caught at games over the years. Mementos like the first ball I ever caught at a baseballs game in Cleveland in the 1980s or the ball I caught on a foul off of Barry Bonds and and ended up on TV, an old baseball glove, and two baseballs cards from about 1909 that I've had since I was a kid. 

Here's video proof that I actually caught that Barry Bonds foul.

Growing up I thought all of this cool stuff was my ticket to riches, but now I realize that it's all just my ticket to fond memories, and I love seeing a bit of it every day. Wendy's right, I can appreciate it far more when I'm not overwhelmed by it.

In my opinion our home office is a tastefully done example of decorating with sports memorabilia without making it look like a sports bar. I love the look, I love that my special items are in there, and I love that it is unique but not overwhelming. Oh, and that Browns helmet on the bookcase, I put it up there after Halloween and I'm just waiting to see how long it will stay there until Wendy suggests it should live elsewhere. :-)

I know you're wondering, "But what of the other bobbleheads, are they in storage?" That's an excellent question, thank you for asking. At some point in the last few years Wendy made a suggestion. I'm sure she was only looking out for the best interests of my bobbleheads and not in any way trying to jettison my collection from the house when she said "You know what? You should take all of your other bobbleheads to your office where you can appreciate them every day at your desk." I had no other option than to oblige this extremely selfless suggestion, and this is where my collection of 13 and growing additional Washington Nationals bobbleheads lives.

I have two more to pick up this year and already have tickets to those game. Gotta keep the streak alive!

Do you have any great collections that you often have disagreements with your significant other over their proud display? I'd love to hear some of your favorite stories, it might just make me feel a bit less emasculated.

Comments 21


4/20/2012 at 10:35 AM
Whoah! The Barry Bonds video is awesome! Good on you for becoming such a die-hard fan of the local team here. I don't have that option, since my hometown and long-time team is in the same division. (Braves)
It is easier for me since my other team is an AL team and I don't think there is a significant risk of them seeing each other in the World Series. I do have to say, I've had much animosity towards the Braves since they crushed my Cleveland hopes and dreams in 1995.

It was great to live here when the team came to DC in 2005, so it was somewhat easy to adopt them as my own. I also really like that I started cheering for them no matter how bad they were, that way I didn't feel like a bandwagoner. I'm definitely not a Skins fan though.
4/20/2012 at 10:41 AM
I think it'll take me a looooong while to convince Mike that his Blue Jays and Islanders memorabilia should be kept in his office.
Keep the faith. It was only ten year into our relationship that Alex "saw the light." :-)
4/20/2012 at 10:45 AM
Um yeah, I can relate. My husband is a HUGE sports memorabelia collector. We have commerative Wheaties boxes that are close to 20 years old in our basement. We've got last season's caught baseballs as well -- no room for this season's so I'm not sure what we'll do. I like how you made them a design element.
I can totally relate. Alex used to collect Wheaties boxes too, but luckily those are in his parents' basement still, not ours. (Although they keep asking when he's going to move all that stuff to our house. Yikes!)
4/20/2012 at 10:52 AM
I kind of think the Presidential bobbleheads work over the fireplace. After all, you're practically sitting on Washington's land! (sorry Wendy)
4/20/2012 at 4:25 PM
i agree! (with apologies to wendy :) ) i think a few strategically placed racing presidents could be a nice addition to 4th of july decor!
Such a good amount of logic from this comment thread. I agree!

It's funny, when I showed Wendy the photos I planned on using she said "I want you to be sure people know it isn't really like that."
4/20/2012 at 11:40 AM
Rodney has a collection of mini helicopters that was displayed at our last flat, but we haven't found a spot for yet!!(oh dear!!) I agree that the presidential bobbleheads don't look that bad!! And I love the bookshelf in your office xox
Since you don't think the bobbleheads look bad on the mantel, I'll have your back on the helicopter decision, but what's the harm in a helicopter shelf or two? :-)
4/20/2012 at 11:49 AM
I've got an old fire hydrant that I painted bass boat(metal flake) blue. It used to live next to the fire place, which I though was pretty classy... now it lives in the garage.
Hahaha. That's great! Maybe there's an office compromise in there somewhere? :-)
4/20/2012 at 12:01 PM
You forgot a picture!

This was on the front page of the Sports section of the Washington Post June 1, 2005:

Nice! I forgot about that picture. Why is it you two fools are the only ones in the picture screaming?? (Well, and the guy behind you.) Just look at those nice, refined businessmen to your right. ;-)
4/20/2012 at 3:21 PM
Because we are real fans!!!!
What a great game that was, I still remember John Patterson's dominant pitching performance, so much fun. You've gotta cheer on your team, especially with stuffy businessmen are around. It's the rules.
4/20/2012 at 1:22 PM

Second, i think the president bobbleheads on the mantel are so cute. I do like Wendy's suggestion of placing the overflow on your work desk tho lol.

When we began dating, my husband had a large collection of tie dye and Grateful Dead tapestries. Being in college, I didn't mind so much. But our second apartment, all but one were taken down. I have terrible dust allergies and used the excuse that they harbor dust to get him to not put them up again. Now we're in the house and none of them are up. I feel kind of guilty, I didn't even suggest a room where he could display them again but I feel like they're so college-y. I almost positive I still have them somewhere for him though.
Hah, hysterical, what an excuse, you were allergic to his collection. You could always pick your favorite or best one, get it framed, and give that to him as a gift. Then he would only every be able to have that one hung, it would look a little nicer, and your guilt would magically transform into pride.
4/21/2012 at 11:18 PM
Go Tribe!!
4/22/2012 at 8:25 AM
GO TRIBE! I love the presidents on the mantle. Maybe that will help the Nats win the NL East this year... I admit to currently displaying a chief wahoo bobble head in my living room. But he's on top of a stack of baseball books so I guess it 'works'. So glad to see your love for the Nats; I, too, was a fan when I lived there, and will never, ever, root for the Braves.

Love the blog, and seeing familiar sites in DC
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