Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Old News Can Be Good News

I have a terrible habit that drives my husband crazy. Well, actually I have several habits that drive him crazy, but I’m pretty sure this one ranks right up there near the top of his list.

Ever since we’ve been married, I have subscribed to several newspapers. And for years, every morning after my husband left for work, I would relax with a cup of tea and read the papers. As time passed, however, and I began to go to bed later and later (and thus, sleep later and later), there no longer was a morning cup of tea. There was a noon cup of soup and a sandwich. And somehow, I never got into the habit of reading with lunch.

So the papers piled up.

At first, I simply hid the piles, telling myself that I would sit down some night, pour myself a cup of tea and read a few weeks’ worth of papers in one shot. But that never happened.

So the papers continued to pile up.

I hid them behind the sofa, in closets and under the beds. My husband never suspected they were there (because he never looks in closets, behind the sofa or under the beds). But one day, I think he began to sense that something wasn’t quite right.

“Why didn’t you tell me that Loretta passed away?” he asked me. “I met John today and asked him how his wife was, and he told me she’d died four months ago! I was so embarrassed! You read the obituaries every day, don’t you?”

“Um, I must have forgotten to mention Loretta,” I said.

“I sure hope there’s no one else you forgot to tell me about. I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself like that again.”

“No, I don’t think there’s anyone,” I said, making a mental note to dig out all of the newspapers and if nothing else, read every obituary.

But for some reason, I didn’t. And the papers continued to pile up.

Last week, however, I was doing massive housecleaning in preparation for my annual Thanksgiving feast, and realized that all of the places where I usually hide the things that I don’t want my guests to see, already were occupied by stacks of newspapers.

So I spent three days skimming through newspapers and tossing them out so I could make room to hide other stuff in my hiding places.

It was a weird feeling reading about things that already had happened. One article, for example, was headlined, “Forecasters Predict Powerful Snowstorm Will Bypass NH.” Two days later, the headline was, “NH Digs out From Under 18 Inches of Snow.”

The hardest part was reading the “this week only” sale fliers, or grabbing the scissors to cut out a coupon, only to discover that it had expired eight months ago.

Last week, I once again unintentionally gave my husband a clue about my secret paper-hoarding habit.

“I really like these shoes,” he said as he was removing them to put on his slippers. “They’re so comfortable. I’d love to get another pair, but they’re so darned expensive.”

“I just read that they’re on sale for 20 percent off at Bob’s Stores,” I blurted out without thinking.

“Great!” he said. “When does the sale end?”

“Last July.”

Two nights before Thanksgiving, I was so busy flipping through more stacks of newspapers, I lost track of time. So I wasn’t even aware that my husband was home from work…until he walked in and caught me red-handed.

“Where on earth did all of these papers come from?” he asked. “What are you doing, secretly sponsoring a paper drive?”

My head popped up from behind a mountain of papers and I smiled sheepishly. “No, just catching up on my reading. I got a little behind.”

He picked up a paper from one of the piles and read the headline: “Polls Declare that Gore Will Beat Bush in 2000 Election.”

“Where have you been keeping these anyway?” he asked.

“Oh, here and there. Didn’t you notice that the house was a lot warmer last winter? Newspaper makes great insulation!”

“It also makes great kindling! If this place ever caught fire, people in Vermont would be able to see the flames!”

So I promised him that from now on I will TRY to read and dispose of my papers every day.

But first, there are some great sales on beachwear that I just have to rush off to…at Ames Department Store.