Antique Daddy

The Two Templetons

For Sean and AD, parting is not sweet sorrow, but unthinkable agony.  Neither one of them can part with any thing – not a scrap of paper, not a shirt that no longer fits, not a broken McDonalds toy.

If at any point in time, either of them laid hands upon an object, it now has sentimental value and must be kept forever.  I, on the other hand, would throw away my wedding photos if I thought they were taking up too much space. I am ruthless.

This is sometimes a problem, for me, because for one thing I’m out numbered — that’s two pack rats to one normal person. The other thing is that a lot of stuff finds its way into our house and the house is just so big and at some point, some stuff has just got to go or there will be no room for my wedding photos.

The telltale sign that AD is out of town is the mountain of trash at the curb.  It’s the only time I can throw something away. If he’s here, he’ll follow me out to the curb and sift through the bags and pull stuff out and try to sneak it back into the garage. And then we end up chasing each other up and down the driveway playing keep away with the trash.

And we wonder why we don’t get invited to parties.

In the end, we have to have one of those “discussions” where one of the parties, the one who went to college on a debate scholarship, uses jurisprudence skills and other unfair tactics to defend the merits of keeping a “perfectly good” three-legged table with two busted legs.  Then, the other party, the normal one, gives up in a fit of exasperation and says something like, “Fine! Keep your stupid three-legged table with the two busted legs. Now get outta my way before I bust the third leg over your head.” And then that party (the normal one) stomps back up the driveway.

Now the upside to being married to a person who makes deep and abiding attachments, is the deep and abiding attachment part — he really believes in forever and is not shaken by threats of minor violence and stomping off, but merely amused.

62 thoughts on “The Two Templetons

  1. Oh, I feel your pain! My 8 year old daughter still looks for “treasures” that I discarded years ago. She can’t go outside without bringing back in at least 14 rocks, a few leaves and a feather or two, if she’s lucky. And my husband? Just how many t-shirts does one man need?

  2. Well, THIS pack rat can certainly identify with AD. I mean WHO would throw out a three-legged table? C’mon!!!

    You and my husband would get along well. He’s learned to stomp up the driveway quietly.

  3. Oh, I can relate to AD and my dh is just like you…..but I believe in forever, too. I’m loyal to the death!!! 😉


  4. I married a pack rat too.
    I recently threw out some cookie dough that had been in the freezer for a year (I know. But it was nasty stuff from a fundraiser) The next time I opened the freezer, it was back in there. So I decided to let it thaw in the sink and get all nasty – surely he wouldn’t want to keep it then. I left the house for a while and when I came back I SMELLED COOKIES BAKING. He was baking that old cookie dough and feeding it to our children and their friends! Because we throw NOTHING away around here.

    I have so many stories like that. *sigh*

  5. No kidding. My son puts tags from new clothes and gum/candy receipts on his bulletin board. He keeps EVERYTHING! What a great story and a perfect description.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Rachel Langston

  6. I think in most cases the woman is the one tied to her sentimental “junk” (at least it’s that way in my case). Husband would be able to live in 400 square feet, easy.


    Yeah, I don’t know. I would guess the pack rat gender split is 50/50. There’s probably a government funded study on the issue somewhere in the stimulus package.

  7. My husband is in denial of being a pack-rat. Only his isn’t for sentimental reasons. His reasoning is along the lines of the “We might need it someday” logic. (Illogic, in my opinion, but whatever.)

    I laughed heartily at this one, as I, too, can only rid my house of clutter when he’s gone. Or at least not looking. 🙂

  8. This post is hilarious! And, I just happen to identify with the pack rat. I’m not good at getting rid of stuff. The visual of the two of you chasing each other up and down the driveway makes me giggle. 🙂

  9. I’m the pack rat here. Funny thing, though: when I go through my boxes of “junk”, guess who is happy to see that old note from his mother (deceased years ago) or that picture of his first tractor?

    Yeah, my common-sense husband.

  10. “Yeah, I don’t know. I would guess the pack rat gender split is 50/50. There’s probably a government funded study on the issue somewhere in the stimulus package.”

    Okay, this made me spew hot tea all over my laptop!

  11. I can completely relate, and I have a plan to combat that!

    My daddy is a packrat, and my mother grew sick of him saving ridiculous things. So she got a giant box, and every six months, she collects things that make her crazy. If he asks for it in that time, she gives it back, and never touches it again. If he doesn’t, it goes in the trash (when he’s gone, of course!)

    They’ve been married 30 years, and to this day, he has no idea.

    So I’ve started it with my husband, and five years later, it’s working like a charm!

  12. I loved your stimulus package comment, too! I have to confess I’m the packrat in our family. What a terrible gene to inherit. If anyone can use an item, I believe it should be given away, not thrown away. I’m the one who goes through the trash to scout for tossed items that someone, somewhere might be able to use. The items pile up before I get them given away to individuals or taken to the thrift store.

    I know that were I to die, most of what I have would mean nothing to anyone else. That in itself should be enough to make me pitch it. However, it is extremely hard for me, but I must because I have no more storage space. I would love to have a basement. I could carry it down there–and then years later, I would still have to deal with it.

    I am glad my grown children get rid of stuff! Maybe the gene stops here. It is the source of many arguments here, so I need to work on it.

    Let’s let the packrats report back in a while and see if any of us have made progress on getting rid of stuff.

  13. My hubby and son are the same way. The hang on to everything. I, on the other hand, find tremendous satisfaction in purging useless items from my home.

    I feel your pain.

  14. Alas, I am a retired kindergarten teacher who still cannot part with a box full of toilet paper rolls – a hopeless case, indeed.

  15. You do realize that you just referred to yourself as normal? More than once and after admitting that you would throw out your wedding photos. tsk, tsk

  16. Being the “normal” one have you ever tried to throw him out?

    Rachel–I do the same thing w/my girls and their toys. Works great unless the “outlaws” come to visit. They go through stuff in the garage & had it back to the girls. I have to wait at least a month after for it to “disappear” unnoticed again. My MIL is beyond packrat and has moved on to hoarder.

  17. Don’t give up! Just start moving all the time. I was by nature a Templeton, and now I pack so light (except for reading material) that you wouldn’t believe it.

  18. ha ha – my Dad is very similar in this respect!! And he refuses to believe that none of this useless stuff isn’t in fact the most useful thing in the world (one day!!). It drives my Mum crackers – she would love to have a massive clear out!!

  19. I believe being a pack rat is a terminal genetic disorder. My husband saves the strangest things, puts them down and wants to know where I put them 5 years after the fact. I have banished myself from his workbench because it sends chills down my spine. I mean come on! He cuts the cords off of broken appliances because?
    My 7 year old daughter is like Allison’s daughter. I just discovered a horde of buckeyes in her sock drawer. Why? Beacause she might need them. For what? She didn’t know but she might. Thankfully the ratio of horders in our kids are leaning to my side. 3 that “save”, 5 that don’t.

  20. Is your husband related to MY husband? Everything he has ever owned, he STILL owns. HIgh school science notes! Broken chairs from college! Sweatshirts from a Far Side exhibition he went to in 1989!
    Good thing I like him.

  21. My husband and I and one of our kids are pack rats. And really, I think he should get rid of all of his stuff to make more room for mine–because my stuff is at least useful.

    My mom is also a packrat–she saves everything, but knows where everything is. In 1992 we were at her house and my 3 yr old son was trying to hook something together–she said she had something that would do the trick. She went into the utility room, reached high onto a shelf, into an old dusty shoebox and pulled out a shower curtain hook. I asked what it was from–she said the shower curtain in the old house. We moved out that house in 1961. After 31 years she still knew where she kept a hook just in case she ever would need it.

  22. What is really rough is when you ( or should I say ‘I’) have both of those personality types warring in your (my) own body. How many times have I taken the trash out to the curb only to go bring it back in and furiously search for something that was causing too much PAIN to just throw away….. (I never search the trash at the curb – I don’t want to give the neighbors something ELSE to talk about – our family is strange enough as it is)

  23. The correlation between the keepers being keepers is true. It was difficult for my husband to throw anything away. But, he would have never thrown us away or traded us in on the newer models.

    I have found that if you throw anything away in a white garbage bag, the contents will be revealed by shape, color, or logo. Children will always spot their toliet paper art project under the leftover spaghetti. My purges always begin with sturdy black bags. I’m sure my family knows I do this, but I work on the theory of that if they can’t see it they are less likely to care what’s in the bag.

  24. Yep. My house is only so big too. My husband’s favorite line is “I might need that one day.” But then when that day actually comes, that thing is under so much other junk he can’t find it anyway.

    You are blessed to have found the kind of husband who believes in forever. And it blesses me to hear stories like that! Thanks for sharing.

  25. Is there anyway you could box up just a little bit of the ruthless and send it to me? I grew up on a farm where nothing — NOTHING — was ever thrown away or discarded. It might be needed someday. There are trucks and other machinery parked in the barnlot…been there for years…just in case a part from them might someday fix another piece of equipment. I remember watching my grandmother meticulously fold the wrapping paper after Christmas so she could use it next year if she needed it. She washed aluminum foil and Solo cups. One aunt fished an apple core out of the trash where I’d just tossed it because it still had ‘perfectly good apple!’ left and nibbled it down to the seeds. She didn’t want it; she just couldn’t stand to see anything ‘wasted.’

    They are all looking over my shoulder every time I start to part with something that could, possibly, be useful to someone. Usually I just don’t fight ’em…but I need to. There’s no room on my city lot to live like a frugal farmer….

  26. Oh my, this post made me laugh! Thank you. I grew up with packrat parents and I’ve been working my entire life to not be the same way. I frequently do the Flylady thing and walk around the house with a trash bag and a donate bag and eliminate a specified number of things.

  27. I’m married to a packrat who likes to move.
    I’m a HUGE fan of secretive purging. Because I can only pay someone to move his class notes from grade 4-12 so many times before I break.

  28. “And we wonder why we don’t get invited to parties.”

    That made me laugh really hard.

    All I can say, is that we are living parallel lives. And yes, there is something endearing about a man who won’t throw me out for a newer version.

  29. My MIL just cleaned out her mother’s house, and it has been a HUGE task. Her mother was a saver of everything and a collector on top of that. So after going through this huge process of cleaning out, giving away and selling much, she’s ruthless at her own house. I too have had to clean out my parents’ house, and I realize it will be a gift to not make the task so overwhelming for my own child. So I’ve started being less sentimental about “stuff” so that many years from now (hopefully), my little one won’t be burden with my misc junk. Plus I just get tired of moving everything around a million times when I don’t really need it in the first place.

  30. I figured you referred to yourself as “normal” (I think 3 times) because you were being funny– saying that because your husband differs from you, he is not normal, you are.

  31. We just helped my parents clean out their attic and they had two huge boxes of Readers Digests from the 70s. Are you really going to go back and read those?!

  32. I’m the rat. I’ve got it bad. But I inherited it from my mother. This summer she brought me a box of Precious Memories, including every project I ever made in preschool, and completed by all the Valentine’s I had received that year. Also a birthday party invitation to someone else’s party from 1982. It took all I had in me to throw most of it away. I knew I had to, but there were two issues. 1. Now that I’ve seen it again, I can’t bear to throw it. 2. I can’t bear to throw it because it’s been saved for 27 years and I feel like it’s wasteful of the saving process.

    Add to the problem, we are also Thing Finders. A feather. A railroad stake. My mom likes to put some of these strange things in her garden. Blue and green glass bottles tipped upside down so the light shines through. Hubcaps. No really, hubcaps. Standing on end to edge the flower bed. Twice I have brought a rescued hubcap home to her, and I’ll be darned if she didn’t nearly tear up at the Thing Finderness.

  33. Welcome to married life — says he who has been married for 44 years to one who guards al things as if they were the gold in Fort Know.

    Big hug for the Moose.

  34. This is EXACTLY the case with us too. When I met my husband in 2000, he still owned shirts dating from the Reagan administration. (This is not an exaggeration.) I argued with him just recently about my attempts to get rid of a wool overcoat that I knew he had for ages. He hardly ever wears it so unlike a lot of his old crappy stuff that I have to sneak out to the garbage, this coat is actually in decent shape. I kept saying, this has to be 25 years old at least, and he kept responding, no, at most it’s from the mid-1990s. Then I happened to notice a ticket stub from some play or something in an inside pocket. The date on it was 1982. (Again, not kidding.)

    I wonder if the pack-rat thing is related to the “engineer brain” thing we discussed earlier?

  35. I felt like I was reading a story of my own life! Too many times, however, I’ve ended up accidentally throwing away something that we should have kept: like airline vouchers! I’m learning…and I think my hubby is too. At least I want to think he is.

  36. My favorite day of the week? Tuesday! Why? Trash day! My husband dutifully drags the cans out first thing in the morning, but since our trucks don’t come until late in the afternoon, I spend all day gathering up additional junk to get rid of! It’s a cleansing ritual, really 🙂

  37. I’m sort of dual-minded. I’m a pack-rat by nature and upbringing, but I find revitalizing joy in pitching stuff. The larger and bulkier the better. I still have a lot of stuff from my younger days, but it’s been pared down and trimmed up and compacted repeatedly every year. Just last year I had to part with a favorite three-legged table; it had a woven fabric shade lamp and a secret compartment. But in the interest of space, and because I’d rather keep my wife than my stuff, I let it go.

  38. I, too, am the normal one. When my guy leaves I break out the large black garbage bags and the shredder. My record is 27 bags of junk in two weeks. Trust me, he’ll never miss any of it.

  39. Oh! I knew what this post was about when I saw the title! When my boy or my husband see me starting to throw something away, they say, “Can I have that?” and I say, “Sure, Templeton, here ya go!” Total pack rats they are. And it makes me crazy!

  40. You just described my family to a “T!” I offered to go through my husband’s closet & gather the clothes he doesn’t wear to donate to a shelter. I do the laundry… I KNOW what he wears. My gosh, he was SO offended!

    And my son? Well, I have to hide things in the recycling if they’re to go out.

    Like you, I don’t get the sentimental value of “everything!”

  41. Regarding engineer brain. I once saw a special on PBS about how the computer came to be and various people involved through the creative/invention process. The garages and rooms looked like my husband’s room and desk. It still drives me crazy, but at least I knew I was not alone. I miss the days when my husband use to travel..sigh..those nice big heavy trash cans.

  42. My father had a metal washer hanging on a nail for over 25 years. It fell off every time my mother took the broom off the nail. She got fed up threw the washer away. He asked for it the next day. Never fails to work that way at our house.

  43. I just love Charlotte’s Web. 🙂

    I was a hoarder by genetic inheritance until a hurricane blew all of it away. Afterwards, my mom and I stood in the kitchen (the only intact room in the house) trying to decide what to box up – and she was taking back everything I put in the trash. Finally I held up this hideous platter and she said, “Oh, I always hated that thing but I got it for my wedding and I couldn’t possibly get rid of it…” I looked at her (and then probably rolled my eyes because I was barely out of my obnoxious teen years) and flung it on the floor in a fit of complete exasperation. It smashed into about a million pieces. I think I said something like, “Ooops, it got broken in the hurricane!” She was horrified, for about 60 seconds. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon smashing stuff and laughing hysterically. It was very liberating.

    We were both cured for life that day!

  44. Being a hoarder is a basic instinct of survival embedded in the genes of us men folk. It’s all good stuff !!

  45. You are my new favorite person. You make me laugh and cry … I need to meet you! =) If you’re ever in chicago, stop by for a visit … i’m a fellow “just-say-no-to-clutter” kind of gal!

  46. Brilliant and well said.

    I have a certain 7 yo with the same affliction. She has actually clung to an old bedraggled couch, screaming and crying, as I attempted to drag said couch out to the curb.

    It’s a sickness. But then, I still have all my old baby teeth.

  47. I have been posting about personality types and you and AD sound like you have the opposite dance well in hand. (Do we ever have it mastered? I think not) My husband & I have that dynamic. It’s a dynamic not a dance, as he does not dance. Ever. That’s why I dance with the daffodils.; )

  48. Oh, wow, my husband is just like that. I stick things I want to throw away under old rotting stuff in the garbage can in hopes he will be too finicky to stick his fingers in that mess. He has computers and printers that don’t work, non-working copiers so heavy that they need two (or three) people to lift, papers, outdated, useless books, clothes that are ragged and don’t fit.

    If left alone, I am certain in a few years he would be that person you see on TV standing outside his house while the HazMat team clears out his house.

    Help me…

  49. Wow. This is my husband and I. And I’ve never really considered looking at the comoparison of your last paragraph.

    THANK YOU. That’s all I can offer you.

  50. That’s so funny. I can SO visualize my husband and I having that same fight.

    I actually teach a class about stuff like this. My advice on how to deal with packrats like this is to allow them to keep their little “treasures”, not that you could separate them from it, but you have to confine it to limited amount of space to keep it from taking over the whole house.

    My husband gets the whole garage, the shed, and a couple of cabinets downstairs. I get the rest of the house. Then when the “stuff” overflows it’s boundaries it’s their decision to prioritize it and make the decisions about what to get rid of. That way you’re not the bad guy!

  51. This is one of the top five blog posts I’ve ever read, and I’ve been reading blogs for five years. I tried to read it to my husband, but I couldn’t read through the laughter and the tears.

    My husband is the ultimate pack-rat. We still own every single CAR he’s ever owned (and yes, we have a big side yard with the three cars and the motor home parked there). He has almost EVERY single toy from his childhood, and most of the BOXES that they came in. (You think I kid – I do not). Lunch boxes from elementary school – we have them.

    And the things he DOESN’T have any more (because his mother ruthlessly got rid of them)? He has spent his adult life collecting replicas through the wonder of ebay. Yes, my husband purchases old toys from the 1970’s because he had one just like it when he was a kid.

    I have no fear… no fear… that my husband will ever leave me. If he can’t sell (or junk) an old 1970 VW bug that no longer runs, OR a 1989 VW fox that no longer funs… well, he’s never letting ME go!

  52. This made me giggle! The entire time I was thinking “OMG that’s us!” Hubby is a pilot . . . so he’s gone a lot. But when he’s here, he’s “storing” things. He left for a week flying stint and I took to the garage, that he said he’d clean out a month earlier. He got home one Sunday afternoon and there was a huge pile of stuff on the curb waiting for the Monday trash. One item was our tent . . . the tent we bought 17 years ago when we started dating . . . it’s old, it’s cumbersome, it leaks, even after I tried to fix it. So I threw it out. He just looked at it with the saddest eyes ever and said “But, but, but WE bought that tent TOGETHER! Couldn’t the kids play with it or something?!” I said no . . . not when we have bears and mountain lions and any number of other animals that would love to camp out in it if we put it up in the forest that is our backyard.

    So off went the tent.

    Then I told Hubby that I’d scheduled that camping trip we wanted to take . . . and we might need something to sleep in . . . ahhhhh, the new popup camper I’ve been pining for!

    I think I played that pretty well if I do say so myself 😉

    And he’s still with me – forever. Yes, he’s a forever kind of guy, too . . . and none of my moody fits of whatever it is I might not agree with him on ever seem to shake him. I’m a lucky lucky woman.

  53. OK, I concede that being a pack rat may be genetic, but must it be referred to as a disorder? My dad saved things that he might need “someday”, and I do the same – only we saved different things. When I needed something not on my list of must-save items, it was usually on his, so I would go to him, and, viola, Dad to the rescue! And he came to me for the things he didn’t save. Worked out pretty well! And saved me a lot of guilt over throwing out “perfectly useful” stuff. OK, OK, I know there must be a balance somewhere, and I haven’t quite figured out how to avoid the guilt of “too much” perfectly useful stuff. And don’t even get me started on sentimental things. Oooh . . . I can’t even begin to think of parting with those. OK, maybe it is a genetic defect. Sigh!

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