Cleaning the garage turns into battle of the sexes

Posted Friday, May. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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“It’s time,” My Little Alarm Clock says as he opens the door to the garage. I freeze, lift my eyebrows and wait. “Time to clean out.” He smiles. I just sit there knowing that he really means to throw away my life’s savings. “We can barely get your car in here. Some people have nothing in their garage,” he goes on. “And some people are 7 years old,” I mumble. Dropping my spoon in my cereal bowl, I run right after him.

He’s got his old tool belt, hammer and nails. “Electric saw, plugged in. Check,” he says. Counting the tall boards lined up against his corner of the garage, “Check.”

“Shelves?” I ask. What is he thinking?

“The garage is mine,” he boasts proudly as he moves my car carefully out into the drive.

“Only those rusty tools are yours,” I say, yelling at the driver. “And the garbage cans.”

As he steps back into “his” domain, he puts his hands on his hips and takes a deep breath as if he’s been under water. I can see those little wheels turning in his head like they’ve been stuck in the mud as his brain takes in the project. He slides up his imaginary sleeves.

“Let’s see. There’s the lawn mower, my golf clubs and my tools.” I can see the disappointment starting to rain on the image of an empty garage. “So. I have one little bitty corner? This stuff has got to go!” He points to my side of the two-car storage unit.

“Hey, what are you doing with that? I use this.” I snatch the exercise trampoline out of his hands and demonstrate its function. One jump up and swoosh it’s in the back of his truck.

“And what are you planning to do with this?” Now he’s attacking my creativity.

“I’m going to make something with it. Remember when we went to Austin. Someone was throwing that out!”

“What is it? It’s broken!” He has no sense of adventure.

“You can have the ladders,” I say, pointing with a nod of my head to that corner he thinks is his, holding out my arms to prevent trespassing to my side.

He carefully opens the old wooden ladder and wobbles it back and forth.

“What? I picked it up last week when I was walking around the block. You’d be surprised what people throw away.”

“It’s missing the two bottom steps.” It goes on the pile building in the bed of his truck.

“And this foot locker. You’ve had this since before we were married.”

I throw myself over it like I’m protecting a small child. “I’ve got valuables in there.”

His eyes roam to my shelving. “Can we please get rid of some of this junk? Let’s see. There are two bags of potting soil, and pots with nothing in them. How old is this paint?” he picks up one of the cans. “This one is when we bought the house! What’s with all the wrapping paper? We give the kids money.”

“Mine,” I say. “Here,” I throw him a golf club cover. “This is yours.”

He moves to my sacred corner where I have an old dresser and a couple of cabinets.

“Don’t touch those.” Too late. He’s opened the drawers, revealing my most intimate secrets.

“I need that poodle skirt and I’m going to do something with those empty pill bottles. The scraps of material are just in case I need to mend something.”

The cabinets are stuffed with necessities like a used dog dish, dog leash, dog brush and dog nail clippers. OK, if he has to throw out something I can always buy new if we ever get another dog. There are two empty boxes of moth balls, a Mason jar full of old flower seed packets, broken sprinkler heads with a few good parts suitable for replacement and a bicycle tire pump. He examines the pump. “Are you thinking about getting a bike?” I ask.

“Hey, you found my roller blades. I’ve looked everywhere for them.” I put on the helmet and hold the knee pads to my chest remembering that that was probably the only spot on my entire body that didn’t hit the pavement, back in the day. “Thanks, honey,” I say, putting them back on top of the freezer.

We’ve got coolers of all sizes, glass vases from the florist, jars of finger paint, rolls of finger paint paper, a giant-sized bottle of bubbles, a bucket full of sidewalk chalk, several umbrellas, an old left-handed baseball glove, a couple of antique chairs that need refinishing, canning jars and colorful ribbons. Not to mention, his car wash liquid, tire brush, window cleaner, paper towels, rollers, paint brushes, sand paper, twine, string, tarps, fire ant pellets, plant sprays and Miracle Gro that I should probably use this year.

“The top shelves are garage sale leftovers and things I just can’t part with,” I say, holding on to a 2-cup coffee maker and the espresso machine.

“Look at all THIS junk,” I move to his corner. “You need two boxes of staples? And what about this – a T-square? Have you looked in your tool box lately? Uh huh.” I pull out four screw drivers and a wrench. “And this old door knob? Oh wait,” I put it on my side. Garage sale. “How many bungee cords does one need? Safety glasses? Really, dear, when was the last time you used those?”

“There,” I say, throwing out his old hard hat, a box of screws, wire snips we don’t need, a caulking gun, a tape measure, channel locks, windshield screen, wood glue, two flash lights that need batteries and a staple gun leaving the other two.

Turning around, I see that I’ve deflated the big fella. He looks sadly around the clutter. “OK, here.” I take an old mechanical pencil sharpener and toss it on the pile in the back of the truck. “Are you happy now?”


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