And of course by that title, I'm referring to the immense mass of clothing that fills my tiny bureau.
What did you think I was talking about? Pulling down my pants? Geez you people are perverted.
The missus decided that she wanted to attack this part next. Probably because she does the laundry. (Before any feminists read this and fly off the handle: I do the dishes. And the bathroom cleaning. So calm the hell down.)
As I've said before, I have more clothes than my bureau will handle. Having dirty clothes at any given time was a good thing, because my hamper/sack for dirty clothes served as a storage place too. But it was about time this changed.
Like most clutter, the solution is not getting a bigger container. Unless you just moved out of your parents' place and your only storage space for clothes is 2-drawer nightstand, or your only storage space is some tiny bureau you've had since you were a toddler, then chances are good that getting more drawers is not the answer. The solution is to get rid of the stuff you never really wear.
This brings up a strange phenomenon known as the 80-20 rule. Within the context of clothes, it means this: you end up wearing 20% of your clothes about 80% of the time.
Now don't let the fact that those two numbers add up to 100 fool you; that's really just a coincidence. Trust me, I have a Master's degree in mathematics, I get it. So let me explain the 80/20 rule in another way with an example:
Let's say you own 40 different outfits for work, and that you work a typical 5 day work week. You don't wear all of those outfits with equal frequency. Some outfits you end up washing and wearing several times per same month, and some other outfits you may not even have worn in over a year. But you probably have 8 particular outfits (20% of 40 outfits = 8 outfits) that you do wear frequently. Namely, your co-workers see you in one of these outfits an average of 4 days per week (80% of 5 days = 4 days). Another way of putting this is that those other 32 work outfits of yours only get worn about once a week.
Again, this is just a statistical model, not a law of the universe, but it's still pretty accurate for large numbers of things. Though the bottom line is you have a lot of stuff in your wardrobe that you never wear, and are not going to wear any time soon. If ever.
Last year I managed to clean out a lot of clothes. But this time, the missus and I went through one entire draw at a time. Starting at the top, we emptied everything in that drawer on to the bed, then we sorted it by "keep" or "toss". We put the keepers back in the draw. Then we did this for each of the other drawers. And we did a marathon laundry run of EVERYTHING in the laundry bag.
Here were some of the interesting finds. The top draw always accumulates weird things:
- Scünci band that doesn't "scrunch". "Scünci" is the brand name, but I guess the general term for these hair elastics covered in a piece of fabric are "scrunchies". When you have long hair, they're helpful to use when tying up your hair before you go to sleep, because they're looser than a typical elastic and they also don't leave your hair in knots. Unfortunately, this didn't seem to stretch at all. I was going to pitch it, but my lady said she could use it for something. Fine, as long as it's out of my drawer.
- By the way, that device on the far left in the photo above is one of those trimmers that shaves away lint balls from fabrics. I still use it. Certainly not junk. It stays. but the little white brush that it came with is an oddity.
- Cardboard backing to a pair of underwear (center of photo). Why didn't I just throw it out when I got it? I don't know. But I'm throwing it out now. And I don't know why I've done this in the past with other pieces of cardboard, but I have. Other guys have too. Go check in the top draw of some guy's bureau, and you'll find something that 1) is not an article of clothing and 2) in 50% of cases can be thrown away.
- Elastic with a twist tie and magic marker on it. I was racking my brains trying to think of WHAT the hell this could possibly be. It looks like something I constructed. But why? For what purpose? And what was it doing in my drawer? Finally, I remembered. A few years ago I was going to a Halloween costume ball and dressed like a guy from DEVO. I didn't have a whip, so I coiled up a piece of black robe and hung it from my side belt loop. And this is what I used that night to attach the rope. Whew, glad I solved THAT mystery. Into the trash you go. Go forward. Move ahead. Try to detect it. It's not to late.
- "Extra" t-shirts / undershirts. I wear lots of t-shirts. I've always been a frequent t-shirt wearer. And like anybody, I've acquired t-shirts to wear when I don't really care about what I'm wearing: stuff to wear doing outdoor housework, painting, sleeping, etc. Shirts like this are good to have. But you don't need 20 of them. So I got rid of lots of extras. Some of them were over 15 years old, like an incorrectly spelled "Poleitzi" shirt I got in 1993 for doing security at a college event called NSCRT ("Night of the Screaming Cathode Ray Tube"). The logo on the front and back were worn to near non-recognition. Into the pile you go.
- Bathrobe. This was at the very bottom of my laundry bag. My ex bought it for me for Xmas a few years ago.
- Silk boxers featuring Looney Tunes characters (see below). Also from an ex...about 15 years ago.
These last two items bring up an important point about clothes, and buying clothes for other people. And I'm getting rid of these. Why? Because I don't wear bathrobes, and I don't wear boxer shorts. The only place I really wear a bathrobe is at a spa, and they give you robes to wear there. And I already addressed underwear in an earlier blog post.
Some people wear certain articles of clothing, some don't. Some are hat-wearers, some aren't. Some have an all-black wardrobe, most don't. That's simply the way it is. And some people, especially relatives and significant others, try buying clothes for something with the idea of "The reason why this person doesn't wear X, is because he/she doesn't have X." I'm here to tell all of you gift-givers the painful reality that it's the other way around. It's not that people don't wear what they haven't bought, it's that they never buy what they've already decided not to wear.
Don't get me wrong: it was a nice bathrobe. It's still a very nice bathrobe. But I don't wear bathrobes. I'm not necessarily chucking it into GoodWill, but I ain't keeping it either.
So after this whole exercise, I've gotten three shopping bags full of stuff to bring to the thrift store. And not only do all of my drawers close with my laundry basket empty, but there's room for more stuff. 2010 tax credit, here I come!