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LIZ DREIER | Nothing old can stay

Going into the second year of this pandemic, I reached an all-time low last month: I started cleaning out closets.  
Liz Dreier Column 08312020
Liz Dreier

Going into the second year of this pandemic, I reached an all-time low last month when I started cleaning out closets.  

To be honest, it wasn’t my idea. My better half, who resides in his basement office most of the time working on “important business,” emerged from the depths one Saturday afternoon and announced: “It’s time to organize the basement closet! I can’t get the doors to close!”

Immediately, I dropped the crossword puzzle I was working on and followed him to his man cave. I could see that the bi-fold doors of the aforementioned closet stood permanently ajar. Coats dating from as far back as 1942 were jammed together on the rod. Two large, plastic bins bulged with old Halloween costumes. Unmatched boots were wedged into the corners. There were several cardboard boxes we had inherited from my in-laws after they downsized 20 years ago. 

I grabbed a garbage bag and started filling it.

“Whoa, you don’t waste any time,” my darling said.

“Listen, I have other projects to work on. The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can get back to them.”

“Do you mean that puzzle you were working on?” 

“It keeps my brain active,” I told him. “You interrupted me when I was stuck on a clue. What’s a seven-letter word for “tyrant” that begins with 'husb' and ends with 'd'”?

“Very funny!”

After I finished the closet, I felt such a great sense of satisfaction that I started on the pantry. I threw out an old Kool-Aid Man pitcher that my kids had loved the handle off of, an ice tray from the 1950s with a removable metal spine in the middle, two pots without lids and a rusty egg beater that I couldn’t crank.  

After the pantry, I tackled the game shelves where I discovered duplicates of half a dozen board games that hadn’t even been opened. Santa must have been asleep at the switch on that one. I said “goodbye” to a singing book that didn’t sing anymore. Ditto for a cute little train with dried-up battery acid on the engine.

It was adios to the puzzle that was missing five pieces.

“You’re really on a roll here,” my managerial spouse commented, noshing on a snack.

“Oh, I’m just getting started. There are still two storage cupboards and a filing cabinet to go through.”

“Let me know when you’re finished so I can get back to my desk work,” he said. He and his snack disappeared upstairs. Curious, I checked his desk to see what he had been working on. It was a Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle.

As I looked around the basement, I felt gratified by the progress I had made; but there was still a lot of clutter left, most of it on the boss’s desk. 

I decided to help him out with that. Nobody needs that many back copies of the Wall Street Journal.