Currently I’m streaming this confession over the Internet because I’ve done the AA thing and I had to wait two hours before I could stand up before a crowd of strangers and tell them of my overpowering urges. I’m not doing that again even though I still have those same overpowering urges.
Okay, I admit it. I can be humble. I’m addicted to hoarding and the worst kind. I can’t hardly shift gears in my car without elbowing one of my hoardees. I’m into popsicle sticks (sometimes literally)–it doesn’t matter whether they’re from lollipops, creamsicles or those crafty projects you send your kids to summer camp to come home with so you can toss them (the sticks, not your kids) in the garage. I love popsicle sticks. Can’t get enough of them. I hide them in the side pocket, under floor mats and the glove compartment, and if passengers want to take a real risk and drive with me, they are wont to discover a stick protruding from an inconspicuously cushioned spot aimed right for their, you guessed it, arses!
Why do I hoard? Well, for one thing, it’s a sickness. It just hasn’t made it into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet. If you don’t already know it, that’s the book –the bible–that psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health resource people use to put a name to your illness, peculiarity, eccentricity or whatever you’re doing that’s making the world at large think you’re ready for the loony bin. Hoarding popsicle sticks hasn’t made it it into these pages yet, but just you wait. Give it another year or two and my malady will be there right between “peeing for attention” and “praying for absolution.”
How did this sad business begin? One day in my early teens I stumbled upon a wolf in the forest–no, no, that’s another hairy story. Let me start again. One day I was sucking on a Sugar Daddy, which was my idea of heaven (keep in mind I was a teeny bopper then with a short attention span and bad hair), and a dark cloud settled over my spirit and told me in the next few minutes that this lump of caramel ambrosia sloshing its high caloric-laden way down my throat would be gone, finished, kaput in less than a nanosecond. This was an epiphany of sorts for a 12-year-old who had recently failed a piano recital and was contemplating a career as a race car driver. Next thing I knew my lips were firmly pressed around the remaining sugar globules clinging to the wooden grain. To the naked eye of the average naked person, there was not an iota of candy remaining on the stick. Still, I could not part with it. I was absolutely fixated. In my mind the sticky stick was now associated with comfort, succor and all that makes us human. It always comes down to timing, at least that’s what Woody Allen says and he should know.
That was the first of my many popsicle sticks. I could not keep the hundred or so I accumulated (via the school cafeteria) in my “little Debbie’s pink and white ballet” room at home so I buried them in my school locker until I came of age at 17. Then I stored them in the trunk of my Chevy Nova. Bless my dear, dead Dad. He didn’t know at the time he presented me with my first car–a dirty, low-mileage, low-fuel, four-door heap that was as boxy as it was unbeautiful–that it would be the first enabler of my passion for popsicle sticks.
I figure that currently I’m up to a count of about 1,598. What! You can’t spot them in my low-mileage 2006 Saturn SUV? That’s because I’m pretty crafty if I do say so myself. If I can brag a little (and why not, trashy celebs do it all the time), I’ve become clever about where to store them. Except for the couple of hundred wooden wands that can poke you in the derriere any time I make a sharp turn or, for that matter, come to an abrupt stop with my air brakes, most of the better sticks (I define these as smooth grained ones with a low buff finish) are hidden below the seats in that flip-out area paralleling the floor mats. That means passengers hardly ever stumble over loose popsicle sticks. Thus they can admire the artistic “pop” designs I’ve made using these hoarded materials. I’ve decorated the car interior walls with them, and they do a great job covering up those dirty kiddy and puppy messes that so often befall leather interior walls. A little spray glitter and now they shine, shine, shine.
Of course, I’m not sure what I’ll do when I trade in the car for a bigger and more spacious model–that should be in about a year. Then I project the popsicle count will be upwards of 4,000. That’s if I continue to deteriorate psychologically, continue sublimating my innermost needs and reaching out to the nearest enabling grocery freezer for fabuloso goodies. You’d be surprised to learn how many popsicle-constructed edibles supermarkets furnish. In a way, it’s their fault I am what I am.
And, yes, that’s the bigger of the two–or is it three?– problems I wrestle with. Thanks to my job as an air controller, I can afford a medium-size luxury car with the square footage that will allow me to display all my popsicle amigos, but if I want something on the level of a Porsche or Lamborghini, that would mean signing a contract with another one of those stupid reality TV producers who care nothing about my mental health but use my little problem for their own selfish, greedy ends. I can just see it now, a show titled “Hoarding for Honey Bear.” But you got to do what you got to do, right? And if I want that Ferrari, I’ll have to share a few disgusting stories with Hollywood Hank and his Conniving Camera Team. Look for me on Channel 12–I’ll be there in all my goofy glory.