Arrive Magazine, July-August 2004

    Final Stop:
    Clean Sweep
    This spring, tidy is as tidy does.

    By Bruce Kluger

    The departure of winter means
    one thing in my house: spring

    When I spring-clean, I grab
    Windex and sponges and head
    for the living room. When my
    wife spring-cleans, she grabs a
    garbage bag and heads for my
    closet. Not that I mind her
    throwing out the African dashiki I
    wore around campus 25 years
    ago. I intended to toss that one
    of these years.

    Still, it never ceases to amaze me how one man’s keepsake is another woman’s
    clutteror vice versa. This supports a theory I’ve long held: that when it comes to
    disposing of one’s old stuff to make room for newer, future junk, we need someone
    else to give us our purging orders.

    Therefore, this month I’d like to offer my personaland objectiveguidelines for
    pack-rats and stockpilers everywhere:

    Men: If you have a sports jersey for a team that no longer exists, lose it. If the
    jersey features a cartoon of a man wearing beer goggles, burn it. Those old, dog-
    eared Playboy magazines, meanwhile, aren’t “collectibles”they’re just old. (Rumor
    has it Miss May ‘68 once guest-starred on an episode of The Golden Girls.) As for
    that teetering stack of scratched LPs, you can dump them, too. Contrary to what
    you believe, you’re not the only fellow looking to unload Leonard Nimoy’s Christmas
    Carols on eBay. (Speaking of music, isn’t it also time to toss out that eight-track
    tape player, circa ‘73? Not even the Smithsonian curators kept theirs.)

    Women: How many pairs of shoes do you really need, Imelda? And while we’re
    nosing through your closet, say sayonara to little strapless number with the rose-
    petal embroidery. Trust me, girlfriend, it will look fabulous on someone who’s
    actually a size six. In fact, you may want to consider boxing up that whole secret
    rack of snugwear behind the sweaters and shipping it off to Goodwill. Not to be
    blunt, but you did buy most of those outfits the month after senior prom.

    Children: Let’s make this easy, kids, throw everything out. Everything. (Correction:
    You may keep your books. Both of them.)

    Bachelors: If your love life is any reflection of your decorating skills, it’s clearly
    been a long, lonely winter. Start by discarding all of the “artwork” currently on
    display, notably any item that once hung in 1) your childhood bedroom, 2) your
    dorm room or 3) your prison cell. (Paintings you did yourself on black velvet go first,
    Picasso.) As for your cinderblock-and-orange-crate “shelving,” one word of advice:
    Ikea. Finally, lose that sad excuse for a La-Z-Boy. Besides the fact that it stopped
    reclining sometime during the Reagan Administration, something green is growing
    out of the seat cushion, and it’s starting to smell.

    Business Travelers: Yes, you need receipts for your expense reports. After that,
    everything else goes. Included: the 6 rental car maps; 8 unused breakfast buffet
    coupons and ever-growing stash of little shampoo bottles. And while we’re on the
    subject of bathroom freebies, you can also eighty-six the mini-sewing kits, shower
    caps, soap samples, bath gel and assorted shoehorns. (Question: Does anyone
    really use a shoehorn anymore?)

    By the way, you may keep all the copies of Arrive that you’ve been pinching. They
    areand will remaininvaluable.

    (Illustration by Terry Colon)