Friday, January 6, 2012


Why do I save paper napkins? Every morning I save the one I wrap around my toasted bagel so I can bring the bagel downstairs to my desk with my coffee. But later in the day, I don't throw the napkin out. I fold it and bring it back upstairs for tomorrow's bagel.

I save comfortable stretched-out panties -- some with un-elastic elastic and rips in the fabric -- my God -- some are maybe 15 years old! And I save bobby pins. I don't know why. After I use them, I put them back in a bobby pin box.

Why do I wear the black warm-ups that I bought 20 years ago in LA ? They're worn thin in spots; they don't keep my legs warm; I have to wear an elastic waist band to keep them up, but THEM I wear -- NOT the brand-new, well-fitting, tailored looking but similar warm up pants I bought last winter? I bought three pairs. I never wear them.

Why do I prefer my old things? Am I a penny-pincher?

Is it the syndrome of the housewife with the fancy parlor which she never uses, only uses if she's entertaining very special high-falutin' guests?

Uh oh... I think I'm beginning to understand this use old things syndrome.

I see it when my husband wraps the last bite of his steak in Saran Wrap. I see it in his closet that's crammed with shoes, jackets, pants, and shirts he no longer wears -- some of these things are former "best outfits." Also underwear. He's got about 10 unopened packages of shorts piled in one of his dresser drawers.

Furthermore, he compares prices when he shops, checking "ounces" in a package or a can, dividing it by the price.

I scoff at him, but perceive that it's the same as my saving paper, bobby pins, and panties. I think I should take all my old panties and his old jockey shorts -- throw them out! Today, immediately -- stop typing this post -- go upstairs and do it!

But ... no. I can't do it. A part of me thinks that all this has to do with time passing, the sense of aging, of you, yourself wearing out. You're comparison shopping yourself with younger folks because the old things in your closet are aspects of YOU that are no longer useful. And throwing them out ... well, throwing them out is ... well, it isn't death, but it IS preparing for the end of your life and throwing bits of you out.

Let's laugh. It's so typical, so common.


Maureen Jacobs said...

Just the other day, I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets. While in there, I found my Pfaltzgraff set for 8 that was given to us at our wedding 14 years ago. (Naturewood pattern for those Platzgraff fans). I asked myself why do I eat off of discount dishes while I have this beautiful set. Am I saving this for a special occasion? I realized that things made to be used. I promptly donated my discount set and now I eat on the "good set.". Everyday is a special occasion.

Our silly habits can be comforting. Some can be from environment, such as growing up without, or just being a romantic. I tend to hold on to the oddest of things for no other reason than I cannot let go. I think we want life to be comfortable. Tossing bobby pins may cause the inconvenience of. Of being able to find one when needed.

Maureen Jacobs said...

Oops, talked too long. Regardless, I feel the need for items around us serve to enhance a security that we have in our space. It s akin to the winter animals stocking up for the hibernation. We want to know we have what we need.

Or perhaps we see signs that the bobby pin factory will be closing down soon. Lol

Love to you Em

Tell John to ditch the old shorts ..... I can send him new ones

Peggy Bechko said...

I have to laugh, Em, it's like opposite sides of the coin. I'm constantly throwing things out. Oh, I have my old favorites as you do and I save things because I was taught never to waste from a mother who went through the depression. So, yes, I share some of your 'bad habits'. But I have, in addition, the side of me that does continually dispose of things I don't use, giving them to some charity or another unless it's unusable and then into the trash it goes.

Love our all too human habits.

Anonymous said...

Love the Jack Benny video! Lol! I am wearing the same shirts from 12 yrs ago and my panties are 3 yrs old and would rather wear them than new ones. We save rubber bands, paper clips, paper napkins, and other needed supplies. We recycle newspapers, etc. also. Giving up on your clothes is like giving up on life. We just keep hanging on.... kam

Grannynomi said...

I can identify with that. I inherited my parents' Depression mentality. But I'm penny-wise and pound foolish; I just went and bought an expensive car, after saving all my pennies. But I figure it's my last hurrah!

Ameer S. Washington said...

I can equate this with my VCR and 13 inch tube TV that has an antenna, I bought both 10 years ago after getting my first work study job in college. I always think, maybe someone else can use the TV and I still have the Rocky and Superman collections on VHS, so maybe I might happen to pop them in one day. They've been collecting dust on the shelf with the DVDS for about 6-7 years. I think part of it though is the memory of the item and the memories we've had with the items. And with penny-pinching, my dears, its a cliche.

Greg said...

Em - this one I completely get. I too, have clothes from 15 years ago - hey! you never know when I'll need a red denim jacket or fight into those jeans I like from the late 90's. Or the 2,500 videotapes we have without a VCR hooked up to any of our T.V.'s? Or the drawer full of chinese food condiments? Or the.. well, you get the picture...

Anonymous said...

LOL love this post. My husband is the pack rat amongst the two of us, and we're not even 30 yet. He saves everything for "one day." Although, to be honest, I am the same way about certain things, like craft supplies. I love places like Goodwill because they make me feel like I'm actually just regifting and not completely getting rid of things like that. ;)