04/24/2014 04:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Disturbing Confessions of a Costume Hoarder


"Try it on for me, baby. One last time," I pleaded.

When my husband slipped on the teeny cutoff "jorts" (that's fancy for jean shorts), so short that they exposed the pocket lining, I had to grab the wall to hold myself up. I could do this. I was strong enough.

Then came the white "wife-beater" crop-top. The jagged cut was so ambitious that it fully revealed his belly and half of his man-nipples.

That's when I burst into tears.

"No!" I stomped. "Please, no. This can't be happening."

"Aimee, pull yourself together. This needs to happen. You will be OK," he said, the earnestness of his voice a violent contradiction to his attire.

I remembered this outfit. We named it "Gus." My husband had worn it five years ago to the most offensive theme party ever, my friend's friend's "To Catch a Predator" Christmas party. Horrible. Gus had a thin mustache and full lamb chops. I would miss Gus.

My husband grabbed the neckline of his top, which was kind of simultaneously the waistline, too, and he pulled -- Hulk-like -- and ripped it down the middle. I felt my heart rip with it. He wadded it up and smashed it into the large trash bag that stood, brimming full, between us.

"It's gone now," he said.

I've never considered myself a hoarder. I don't even have any cats. I have watched the hoarders reality shows and wondered how -- how does that happen?

Well, unless they have an addiction to costumes. I get that.

I had 15, 45-gallon storage containers packed and stacked with more costumes than the Ritz. But I didn't have a problem. The sheer number of aprons I owned and refused to part with were negatively affecting my relationships. But they were practical. And amusing. What if I needed them some day?


This was a longtime-coming spring cleaning. I had no problem tossing my boxes of old love letters, and I definitely didn't hesitate to chuck the photos of my husband's ex-girlfriend without asking him. The box of shot glasses I collected from every country I've visited since age 18? Smash it. Even most of my daughter's old baby clothes that everyone warned me would emotionally hang me. Gone. Well, except her tutus. And alligator suit. Those, I needed to keep.

Along with every costume I'd ever worn or thought about wearing or thought about thinking about.

I had hunted hard for that neon ski suit. I'd invested a lot of glue gun to affix those 250 bells to that Christmas apron. And, moreover, these outfits made me laugh. They symbolized a fun time in my life, before I got so old and stressed out and boring, with my blazers and vacuum cleaner with the detachable stair hose and quinoa.

Parting with my costumes felt like giving up on being silly, and that felt a lot like growing up. Trading the funny factor for practical organization hurt like growing pains. Inevitable, I guess, yet uncomfortable.

Hence, my tears.

I didn't realize how much emotion I had been wrapping around my sequined prom gowns and wig collection.

And I recognize how ironic it is to cry over something because it's so funny, such as a clip-on beard. It clips on to your nose. Your nose! Oh, the sadness.

It's odd, the objects that end up meaning the most to us. You can try to explain it, but our reasons run deeper than logic, and unpredictably, too.

For some of us, we cling to the onesies our babies wore, or old photos, or dried flowers, or awards, or the T-shirt our grandpa gave us before he died. For others, it's stonewashed "jorts" and a trucker hat. Or cats. Or even emptiness.

Who am I to judge? I cried about "jorts."

I am proud to say I made major progress toward unchaining myself from my costume collection.

I now have only 14, 45-gallon bins.

And I've bought only three replacement aprons so far. This week. You should see them. They're a hoot. If only they had more bells.

Read more stories from the weirdest city in America, Boulder, Colorado, here: Only In Boulder. This story originally appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera.