If it's true that one man's junk is another man's treasure, I must be the richest man on earth. Or so I thought recently when my wife, Sue, and I embarked on the herculean task -- which even Hercules couldn't accomplish by himself -- of cleaning the garage.
As it turned out, I'm the man with all the junk. That's because there wasn't much to treasure in everything that had accumulated since we moved in a dozen years ago.
I had tried to clean the place a couple of times before, but my efforts were half-hearted and no-brained. Now, Sue said, I had to put my nose to the grindstone, which was hidden in a corner, next to the garage door opener my parents gave us for Christmas 2005, I think, but which we haven't installed because, let's face it, why open the door when you can't get in?
"This place is a mess," Sue announced as she surveyed the hellhole from the other door.
"It's not so bad," I replied as I tripped over a box and almost broke my foot, which would have given me a good excuse to put off the project for another few years.
The box was sitting next to two folding tables, two baby gates, a dog cage, a large wooden board and an oven door.
I found photos of our two grown daughters when they were kids. "Wow, look at these," I said nostalgically. There also were some shots of Sue and me when we moved into the house. "That was when this mess started," I remarked.
"You spend more time looking at stuff and reminiscing than actually cleaning up," Sue retorted.
My main job, I soon learned, was to dig through things that had no earthly value and try to convince Sue that we should keep them. One such item was a book titled 101 Elephant Jokes. It was in a box with such other literary classics as How to Eat Fried Worms and the Britannica Book of the Year for 1971.
Sue, meanwhile, was working diligently to decide what stayed (two old bureaus and a long-lost water bottle) and what went (the aforementioned books and, if I didn't watch out, me).
We also kept -- for now, at least -- the BubbleMate, a luxury foot bubbler that I don't think has ever been used; a treadmill that, if we someday decided to get in shape, would give us a reason not to throw away the foot bubbler; and a vintage Christmas record by the Chipmunks.
We also found records by such baby boomer icons as Neil Young, Cat Stevens and Steppenwolf. "I'm putting them on eBay," Sue said.
I found an open box of tissues that probably dated back to the Clinton administration. "Do you want them?" I asked Sue.
"No!" she shot back. "They're disgusting. I wouldn't blow my nose in them."
Speaking of disgusting, I also found petrified goldfish food. Since we no longer have any petrified goldfish, I threw it out.
I kept four toolboxes, three bicycles, two ladders and a partridge in a pear tree, which was in a box of Christmas ornaments.
By the end of the day, we had filled 10 bags and one box for Goodwill. We also filled several garbage bags and a recycling bin. And we're still not done, though the place is less of a fire hazard and we are a lot closer to actually being able to fit a car in there.
Now Sue wants to have a garage sale. "How are we going to sell the garage without selling the house, too?" I asked. Sue ignored me.
There are, it seems, a few treasures after all, some of which we will try to sell to other people who like to collect junk.
The garage door opener, which may finally come in handy, is not one of them.
Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of Leave It to Boomer. More info at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. E-mail: JerryZ111@optonline.net.
Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima.