Saturday, May 28, 2005

#39 - Another Skeleton in the Ol' Family Closet

We have a disease in my family.

It's genetic, and there's no hope for a cure. My parents both had it. All of my siblings have it. Our kids all have it. Even my wife has it. Boy, did she marry into the right family!

We've all thrown money after the problem, but, as I say, there is no cure. Unfortunately, there is also no serious research being done. No university with any shred of self-image left would dream of touching it, let alone ask for a grant.

To get some background, I point you to this article. My brother has, perhaps, the most advanced form of the disease of any in our family. Imagine two vending machines. One machine has every kind of snack food available. Everything costs one dollar or less. The other machine carries pamphlets by obscure LDS apologists, each costing one dollar. Now imagine that my brother is stranded on a desert island with these two machines. There is no food or water anywhere to be found, except for the snack machine. He has one dollar in his pocket. The problem would not be which machine gets his money, but rather which pamphlet he should buy. After all, what if he disagrees with the author? Such would be my brother's dilemma.

There is, of course, a companion disease. Not only do we buy far more books than we could ever possibly read and yet remain employed, but we also horde everything we buy and cannot bring ourselves to throw anything away. Ever. Not books, anyway. Jewelry, yes; we could easily toss out old diamonds if they just didn't have that sparkle anymore. But toss a book? Sacrilege.

So the idea that my brother has given 27 boxes to our sister and her hubby is nothing short of heroic. Or whatever adjective you may prefer in this case. My sister, on the other hand, being still relatively inexperienced with the disease, seems genuinely glad to have them.

My wife and I, at least, try to deal with the symptoms. About once every three years we get a sudden urge to trim down. Purge ourselves of all the stuff we know we'll never use/wear/read or otherwise consume any time before the Woodyettes begin having children of their own. It's a comical event, really. Mrs. Woody assumes her place in our bedroom where most of our books are stored. (We also have some in our family room, but we're more likely to read those. At least, that's what our ten year plan says.) We know in our hearts that we must eliminate as many books as possible, especially now that we must rearrange the entire house. Something's got to go, and it's not going to be my priceless collection of Earth, Wind & Fire LPs from their post-Disco, pre-CD era. Don't laugh... it's the last time I was ever considered somewhat hip.

I unload each and every shelf (we have five bookcases in that room!) and place them on the bed in front of Mrs. Woody. She examines each one and asks herself the following tough question: "Is this book ever really going to serve a purpose besides being some obscure reference for home school?" The answer, of course, is no. Every book we have in the house will ultimately be used for home school, according to Mrs. Woody. We need all those books in Spanish she picked up while serving her mission so we can teach the girls Spanish. "Donde està el escritorio?" ("Where is the desk?") "Tu eres un lapiz." ("You are a pencil.") My Sherlock Holmes collections will help the girls learn critical thinking skills: "Elementary, my dear Sister. The ashes were of a type found only when you burn the hair from the blond Polly LostInYourPocket doll. Of course you did it!"

Ultimately, we manage to agree on one paltry box of books that must be donated away. The last such box of books we gathered up, though, somehow managed to avoid the executioner and are still to be found in our bedroom, still in that same box, and shoved unceremoniously underneath our table. They will remain there until sometime after the Millenium begins.

No, brother of mine, you only think you've gotten rid of the books. You are not so easily cured.

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