Columnists

The Museum Of Natural Laziness

Here’s one for you. How do they tackle Spring Cleaning in a museum?

I heard most of you answer, “very carefully”. Nice.

Indeed, that’s true if we are searching for applause at the improv club. However, this is a seri-ous question that I ask myself every year, when I start my own Spring Cleaning.

In a museum, it’s their job to save stuff. They store and exhibit artifacts that have cultural, his-toric, scientific, or artistic significance. I save stuff, too, but somehow the meaning is lost on guests who try to hang their coats up when they visit.

There’s no question that I need the space. But how do I decide what goes?

The fact that an item no longer works isn’t a criterion. I’ve got a 20-gauge shotgun that would backfire against the shooter, if anyone ever loaded a shell and fired it. My brother stuffed the right barrel with the skull of a Horde Trooper action figure from the He-Man™ cartoon series, and no one’s been brave enough to pull the trigger since.

The firearm has no useful value, but the shotgun belonged to my Dad’s Uncle Dave, and is nearly 200 years old. I can’t throw that out, can I?

I still own the right shoe that I wore onto the field in the first college football game I ever played. It’s a really nice foot covering, and the red strings are still fettered in double shoestring knots, so they won’t untie while playing. The left shoe is long gone. I loaned it to Mo, our starting Center, during a game when his football cleats suffered a blowout in rugged play.

I can’t bring myself to throw away that right shoe. Maybe, I secretly believe that someday the left one will find its way home. Unlike lost socks, shoes do that once in awhile.

At the very least, the shoe is a reminder of great times with great teammates, and the memory of that long, cold season standing on the icy wet sidelines wearing only one shoe. To this day, I can still remember how proud I was when the left shoe received its varsity letter, later that year at the awards banquet.

The moths got into the box of gorgeous homemade Christmas placemats. They were stored un-der the stairway. I can still remember my Mother working hours on the cut-work embroidery, fashioning a relief of Christmas trees onto a dark muslin background. You can see the tabletop through the holes in the fabric, now, but I just can’t throw those out. Luckily, my dining room ta-ble has a gorgeous top.

There’s a six string guitar in the back of my bedroom closet that I’m going to learn to play “some day”. It is missing the A- and G-strings, but it is just as valuable to me as one at the Elvis Pres-ley Museum in Memphis. All I have to do is look at that guitar standing in the corner, and I can still hear my Dad playing chords to the old standard “Tea for Two” to a sold-out audience of his sons.

I find dust difficult at my house, too. How do they keep museums so dust-free? I have a hard enough time yanking my curtains down and running the lace shears under the faucet. What does it take to get 10,000 years of dust off the mastodon? It can’t be easy running the Hoover™ over the proboscidean pachyderm.

Yes, museums do usually have a staff of housecleaners to take care of the dust and clutter. Nevertheless, I believe the issue is the psychological approach to Spring Cleaning. It’s im-portant to be committed to cleanliness. Approach the tasks with zeal and ardor for the job ahead.

I can do that! This finally is the year!

On the other hand, when you’re visiting my house, I ask you to just keep behind the velvet ropes.

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.