“One husband’s treasure is one wife’s junk” — MJF

While my wife has her share of great qualities, her lack of tolerance for “stuff” is not one of them. By “stuff” I mean those things that seem to gather around the house and become like determined magnets gathering allies that accumulate in dresser drawers, kitchen counter tops and on nightstands, desks and even the folding table in the laundry room.

During my nearly four decades of marriage to my wife, Debbie, I’ve learned that so many untold things I’ve stubbornly wanted to save, convinced I’ll need some day, are what she instead considers useless clutter. Thus, throughout our years of marriage I’ve gotten used to discarding what I call TFVs — Things of Future Value — just to avoid the cold stare down I get from her just before she boldly demands: “Just what are you going to do with that?”

Although I have no idea why, I have a great deal of inner conflict when I’ve recently parted with the following:

• A round plastic tube which once held a kitchen knife long gone

• A hinged metal box that was once filled with cookies — I believe

• The sturdy cardboard box my sister-in-law sent with a birthday gift inside

• The spare parts of something that was probably once a significant part of our lives that has now made its way to neverland

Ok, you get the idea. For me they are future whatsits that, well, should be given enough time to fulfill their destiny. But, alas, to Debbie they are simply junk cluttering up our otherwise beautiful home.

Not long ago when we were discussing this very topic, I tried to convince her of my point of view by telling her a wonderful story about Henry Ford, the incomparable auto manufacturer famous for his iconic Model T. One day, Ford was out for a country walk with his young grandson when the boy picked up what he thought was a silver coin. After looking it over, the young lad threw it back down on the ground when he realized it was just a round metal washer.

“Wait just a minute,” said Grandpa Ford. Then he removed a one-dollar bill from his wallet. “This dollar may seem more valuable than that worthless washer but in some circumstances that old ring of metal can be worth more.

“For instance, I can use it to pry open a bottle cap. I can turn a screw if I’m without a screwdriver or I may place it underneath a table leg to level an uneven table.”

As I related the story to Debbie and explained what a valuable lesson Henry Ford’s grandson had learned — that is, never write something off as worthless — she just smiled. Then with that sardonic look I’ve grown accustomed to seeing, she said, “That’s a really cute story. So, you may keep any metal washers you happen to find on the ground.” So much for my powers of persuasion.

So, there you have it. For the remainder of the day, I’ll be busy sorting out any clutter clinging to the interior of the house. But before I do, does anyone have any use for a nice wooden oak picture frame that unfortunately lacks just one side? Sure, it’s clearly missing one fourth of what would make it complete, but just maybe…

Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

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