By Jean Mlincek My sister is an addict. She is obsessed with gnomes. She might even be possessed by one for all I know. She is definitely ab-gnome-al. This past Christmas, she kicked the Seven Dwarfs to the curb and stationed 62 gnomes throughout her house. That’s right; 62! I wanted to call her husband and have him check the nativity scene, but, honestly, I would not react well if she had an infant gnome wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Hey! It could happen. My sister has Santa gnomes, Merlin gnomes, Patriotic gnomes, St. Patrick Day gnomes, Cupid gnomes, President’s Day gnomes, Gnomes with bunny ears, Halloween gnomes, ceramic gnomes, plush gnomes, plastic gnomes, gnomes that glow in the dark, big gnomes, little gnomes, HUGE gnomes that scare the hell out of her husband when he forgets one lurks in some corner of the house. And this really disturbs me: she has a basement full of them. That sounds creepy. And, get this. She started out NOT liking them. Thought they were ugly. And then “the floodgates opened.” For some reason, she fell in love with the little creatures with the long white beards, the pointed hats, and a great big bulbous nose that peeks out from underneath the floppy hat. I think my sister is attracted to the nose. I mean, there isn’t much else if you eliminate the beard. There’s no eyes, no lips, no ears. Who the hell falls in love with a nose? Beats me. Anyway, everyone who knows my sister sends her a gnome or two. Seems they arrive daily. I’ve sent her three on two occasions. Even her church, which runs a thrift shop, calls her whenever a gnome comes in, and she hastens to the house of God to check out the new arrival. How weird is that? Oh, my sister wishes she could quit this madness, but every time she sees a gnome, she feels she must have it---unless it is $49.99. It’s not that her love has limits, but her pocketbook does. Plus her husband would be facing murder charges, not for killing my sister, but for gnome-ocide. I thought my sister was the only one suffering this ridiculous addiction, and then I read where folk in the U.K. were frantic when a cargo ship got stuck in the Suez canal in April. Why? There was a mass shortage of garden gnomes in the U.K. BEFORE the ship got stuck, and now there would be a massive backlog on this particular consumer product. We are not talking toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Phillips Milk of Magnesia. They are fretting over availability of a silly garden ornament!
Truth is, I am sort of addicted now, too. If I go into a store, I actually look for these humanoids. I seek out the aisle where they reside, pick them up, check them out, admire their cuteness. I dare not leave if one is staring at me with that “send-me-to-your-sister” look. I mean, my time is valuable. I can’t be checking out every gnome on the planet.
God forbid if “the floodgates open” for me. Jean Mlincek is a freelance writer who resides in St. Petersburg, Fla.
They say nothing motivates better than the last minute. How true! I recently had overnight out-of-town company which, quite frankly, put the swift back into my Swifter in terms of making my apartment somewhat presentable. Oh, I’ve been meaning to organize my disorganization--going on five years now. I always eye shelving units upon every visit to Home Depot, and I own a copy of “The Ultimate Decluttering Guide” . . . if only I could find it. I have vacuum bags that can reduce a comforter to the size of a tea bag, but they sit in the bottom of my linen closet collecting dust. Then there are my space-saving hangers that can hold all my summer clothes on one hanger . . . but who has time to hang up clothes? I possess at least ten 64-quart storage containers, but still have 1,073 quarts of junk without a home. I even have a nylon bag for washing my bras…somewhere. It’s not like I haven’t TRIED to organize! Even though I was motivated to finally sort papers, clothes, and match pairs of socks for the first time in five years, I simply didn’t have enough time to accomplish my tasks before my guests arrived. So, a valuable, hidden talent kicked into gear. I began to stuff stuff everywhere. Before my guests arrived, I managed to cram the equivalent of six storage units (rent free!) worth of whatever under my bed . . . the very bed my guests would be sleeping on! I stashed stuff under and behind my sofa, and even slid a few items under the cushions. And inside the cushions. (Hey! They need periodic bolstering, plus what’s a zipper for except access?) If there was a molecule of space, my stuff inhabited it. I am so good at stuffing stuff, I swear I should have been a taxidermist! I even utilized my dishwasher and oven for stor-age. Yes, Judy and Bob looked askance at me when I said, “Let me get you a banana out of the dish-washer” but, hey, it worked. I had a loaf of bread and bag of chips that survived in there as well…and were quite edible, thank you. Oh, I confessed my slob nature to both Judy and Bob, and begged them not to open any closet doors for fear of an avalanche of everything from clothes to a deflated basketball to last year’s Christ-mas tree, fully decorated. I THINK they obliged me. I also pled with them not to look under the bed they slept upon. They would have had night-mares. I have no idea when I will feel motivated enough to undo my cramming, stuffing, and stash-ing now that Judy and Bob have left. First of all, I don’t remember what I stashed where. We fin-ished the bananas, bread, and chips, so I don’t need to worry about the dishwasher. In fact, my place looks more decluttered than ever, so why undo a good thing? Besides, there’s a perfect saying for my stow-aways: Out of sight, out of mind. At least for now.
Jean Mlincek is a freelance writer who resides in St. Petersburg, Fla.