If you know my husband, Ron Davis, you know that he is wonderful. All my single friends want a clone of him. He is the person who stops and helps when he sees a motorist in trouble or a builder loading heavy materials onto his truck at Home Depot. He knows how to fix everything and does it without being asked. He still works outside in bitter cold at almost 80, and gives belly rubs to any dog who comes near him. Dogs instinctively know how kind he is and flip over on their backs the minute he approaches. He is an ideal partner and I love him madly, and yet we have a glaring difference. We have very different ideas about home tidiness.
I am very proud of our house which I designed with an architect to best fit the woods in which it is set, and I spend quite a bit of time tending the small garden in the only patch where the sun comes through the trees, but when you drive up our driveway, you might think you are in a junkyard. Ron is a contractor who hates to get rid of anything left over from a job. If you replaced your sink or toilet, they are now sitting in my yard. Contractor equipment such as ladders and walk boards are leaning against the barn and in piles in front of it. The barn itself (which Ron built as a garage) is packed to the rafters with tools and scraps from previous jobs. Need flooring, carpet, windows, PVC pipe? We have all of it here. Nails, screws, tape, wood trim, half empty bottles of paint, sealer, and glue: all in my yard and barn. A very large tool to sharpen industrial machinery grows rust under a blue tarp.
Our daughter-in-law from Indiana asked me how I can stand to have my yard so messy, and I answered that I can’t stand it, but I have trained myself to look away when I drive up.I focus my eyes only the garden and the gazebo Ron built from leftover building materials. Last time Nick and Cheryl came to visit, they rented a dumpster and spent the weekend filling it with yard crap. Ron helped willingly, but the yard is still a dump.
I especially can’t stand mess inside the house, however, and yesterday I finally took matters in hand. I gathered all the books that we have already read and that Ron keeps in cartons on the floor of our small bedroom. Those already rejected by Mr. K. I took to the Black Mountain Home for Children Thrift Store. Then I placed the books we haven’t read on a bookshelf I bought at Tuten Penland auction. After that I tackled the area at the far end of the room where Ron has a beautiful Asian scroll desk buried under piles of junk. This piece of furniture has become an extension of the outside barn as a depository for tools but it is also covered with a layer of any slip of paper Ron has touched in the past five years.
I gathered the screws, nails, drill bits, and unidentified small tools and put them in the utility room. I also found dozens of Chapsticks, sample lotion bottles, shampoos, and hand cream and threw them away. I handled every piece of paper to make sure it was not a current bill or receipt for materials, and threw away bags of them. Beside the table on the floor under a layer of dust were baskets of scraps of paper, more bits and pieces, and books to take to Mr. K. Also guns and ammo.
When Ron got home, he wasn’t happy to see how much nicer our bedroom was. He was furious that I even touched his “stuff.” He said, “That’s my stuff and you should not have thrown anything away!”
I explained that I didn’t want our bedroom to be an extension of the barn, and that I couldn’t stand having that mess in our tiny bedroom. Not to mention that beneath the piles of junk were dead bugs and huge dust bunnies.
He wouldn’t listen and retorted angrily, “What if I went into the closet and threw away clothes you haven’t worn in a while?”
I told him I already take clothes I haven’t worn in a year to the thrift shop.
He was still furious, though, and exploded when he discovered the loss of his Chapstick collection. “I need those and you left me only two sticks on my night table.”
Luckily the last garbage bag was still in the house, and I reached inside and pulled out five more Chapsticks. That calmed him down and he placed them beside the bed, already rebuilding the mess. The question is how long will it be until I have to gather his crap all over again. Is this a man thing? Anyone else have this problem? My friend Julie said John wouldn’t let her move his papers, but what about piles of crap? Is that a man thing?