Monday, May 10, 2010


I honestly try not to be a nag, but I have to confess that during the past year, I’ve nagged my husband more than usual…a lot more than usual. In my defense, however, I had a perfectly good reason.

The reason actually can be summed up in three words…the storage sheds.

Neither of the two sheds on our old property had been touched in years. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what might be in them, either living or dead. And I had absolutely no intention of finding out.

So about a year ago, when we knew we’d be moving into our new house in the near future, I began to nag my husband.

“You know,” I casually mentioned to him one day, “if you start cleaning out the sheds now, little by little, you can put out some of the junk on trash pick-up day each week, and by the time we’re ready to move, the sheds will be all cleaned out!”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll have both of the sheds emptied out long before we move.”

Last month, exactly seventy-two hours before our appointment for the closing on our old house, when we’d have to hand over the keys to the new owners, he finally decided to clean out the sheds.

The first thing he did was attempt to back up his van to the door of the first shed. In the process, he ran over the bottom step on the porch and took a huge chunk out of the corner of it. When he looked as if he also might wipe out a maple tree or two, the neighbor came out and offered his assistance. He probably feared that my husband would flatten his fishing boat, which was parked just to the left of our shed.

When I went outside, I found my husband sitting on the back of the van and drinking bottled water while supervising the neighbor, who was cleaning out the bigger shed. Now and then my husband would point and tell him which items to toss out or which to keep. The neighbor then would hand him something to put into the van. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Another thing I had nagged my husband about was to be sure to thoroughly clean out every box before bringing it to the new house. I didn’t want nests of heaven-only-knows-what being moved into our basement. The sheds were so full of mouse droppings, weird cocoons and spider webs, I shuddered to think what might be hitching a ride over to the new place. So I made my husband promise he would inspect and clean everything before loading it.

Well, considering the fact that zero hour rapidly was approaching, my husband ended up telling the neighbor to fling everything “as is” into the van. If a box contained a family of pregnant spiders, it was going into the van and heading straight to our new house.

I couldn’t believe the things my husband decided to keep. There were old girlie magazines he’d had since he was about 19, five broken portable radios, a mildewed military jacket with some kind of white webs all over it, and enough rusty old auto parts to build an entire car.

“I really don’t want all of that old junk in the new house,” I complained as his van swelled to the near-bursting point.

“Well, I don’t have time to sort through it all right now,” he said. “It will all have to go over there and stay there until I can spend more time looking through it.”

I’d been married to him long enough to know it would be another 20 years before any of that stuff would ever see his face again.

The van was loaded and unloaded three times before he finally got everything cleared out of the shed. The last load is still sitting in the van because neither of us has had the energy to unload it.

“Better check your back tires,” some guy said to us in a supermarket parking lot the other night. “They look pretty flat.”

I had the sneaking suspicion the 10,000 pounds of junk in the back of the van may have had something to do with the tires looking squished.

The other day, I was down in the basement of the new house and happened to see several big black ants running across the floor. They all seemed to be coming from the same area, so I followed their trail and it led me right to my husband’s box of old Archie comic books from the shed.

I carried the box out to the driveway, turned it upside down and emptied everything out of it. Dozens of ants scurried in all directions.

“Hey! You’re ruining my comic books!” my husband protested when he came out and saw them lying in a heap in the dirt. “They’re so old, they’d probably be worth a lot of money!”

“The comic books or the ants?” I snapped. “You know, if you’d have started cleaning out the sheds and checking over everything the way I’d told you to a year ago, we wouldn’t have any ants in the basement right now.”

“How do you know for certain that the box wasn’t ant-free when it got here?” he asked. “I mean, maybe the ants were already lurking in the basement and just crawled into the box when we put it down there.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I also don’t know for certain whether or not the dead mice I found in your box of old girlie magazines chewed all of those holes in the centerfolds, or if the pages just disintegrated from old age.”

“Mice? Holes in my centerfolds!” His look of sheer panic nearly made me feel guilty for having made up the story.

Still, maybe now he’ll actually look through some of those boxes before the year 2018.