Friday, August 21, 2009

Captain Trash Strikes Again

There is a superhero that lives at my house. No, he is not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or bend steel with his bare hands. His singular ability is to throw things away. He is, dun, dun, dun ... Captain Trash.

Jeff earned this moniker at some point when Whitson was in Kindergarten. I would go through our son's school folder and admire his daily work. Later that night when he would want to show his daddy his handy work, but he wouldn't be able to find it. "Where could it be?" he wondered. Oh no. He left it on the counter, so that must mean that Captain Trash had been there. Captain Trash tends to strike around 5:30 at our house. After the blur of kids coming to hug daddy and then running of from whence they came, Captain Trash sneaks into the pantry to eat a handful of Doritos and then throws away everything on the counter but the large pile of mail (the one thing I would like to see gone) away. Gone for good.

I think he gave himself the name after the kids started protesting. The kids would come crying to me wondering where their drawings of mermaid princesses and flying spacemen had gone, and I would send them straight to their father. He would admit, unashamedly, that he had thrown it all away. There were tears. There were protests. All to no avail. Now when the kids ask me, I turn it around and ask them who they think threw it away. They mutter a little disgustedly under their breath, "Captain Trash."

Dear reader, in case you've never been to my house, let me tell you my not-so-secret secret. My house is a cluttered mess. I am the "Queen of Clutter." It is my ministry. I make others feel better about their homes. There are probably 500 sheets of paper sitting atop my desk (as well as some yarn, lip balm, pictures, a book and a camera) as I type this. I am not known for my cleaning prowess or organizational skills. Having a cluttered house bothers me, but obviously not enough for me to have done anything about it. My husband, on the other hand, hates it. He would love to have an organized house and he does little things, like throw papers away, to make a dent in the clutter. I understand this. I can't say as I blame him, but sometimes it is quite annoying.

For instance, the kids will pull out an assignment to show to him and he will look at it, smile and throw it into the trash can while they are still standing there with proud little smiles on their face. I thought everyone knew that you had to wait until they were out of the room and then hide that crap in the trash can underneath the coffee filter. I do not need to keep every sheet they bring home from school. I keep the art projects and toss the rest -- but not in front of them! Have I mentioned that my husband has many, many strong suits? Sadly, tact is not among them. He sees no problem with throwing things away in front of the person who created it, including me. (He also sees no problem with stopping me in the middle of a story that I am feverishly telling him to ask me a completely non-related question, but alas that is a topic for another day.)

But it's not just the kids who suffer. He has no problem with throwing my things away. Important things. Things like Sunday School lessons. This, of course, is partially my fault. If I would find a place to put important things and then actually put them there, this would not be a problem. However, we've been married for 13 years, and I have been leaving important papers lying around (where I know they are) the whole time we've been married. We are still having a "debate" over whose fault it is that the S.S. lessons were thrown away. I brought the lessons home from church in Langley's church bag. I knew where they were, so I didn't remove them. I figured they were safe from Capt. Trash in there. But on the following Friday, I needed said bag for another reason. I was in a super hurry, so I took out all of the papers put them on the spot in my kitchen where my purse lives. (Okay, so it's on the ground in a corner, but that is where my purse lives, as well as other important things that I take in and out of the house every day. It's lived their for seven years and he knows it. Don't Judge Me!)

When I got home, I plopped my purse down on top of them, knowing where they were and planning to look at them later. The next day when we were getting ready to study the Sunday School lessons, I go over to where I keep my purse and lo and behold, they are gone. To the dump. Apparently while Captain Trash was rounding up all the trash in the house, he walked by my purse, saw the offending papers, put them into the kitchen trash without looking at them, and then took them off to the dump.

Yes, I understand that technically they were on the floor, but they were underneath, and obviously WITH, my purse. This was not my fault. But he was ticked -- at me! It was as if I had picked up the S.S. lessons and tossed them in the trash. "They were in a pile" he said, "on the floor!" "They were with my purse!" I said. Maybe to him they looked like trash, but to me they were one with my purse, which is the most important thing I own and he knows it!

Oh, aren't we a pair? Opposites most certainly attract. I'm convinced that God loves me enough to have sent my wonderful husband to me, so that I would be happy and not end up living in squalor. However, it can be maddening. Since I am also the kind of girl who writes things like important phone numbers that can never be found again on backs of envelopes, these things are routinely thrown away as well. I find his throwing out paper as maddening as he finds me piling it up. So I guess we're even. So, why bring the whole Captain Trash thing up tonight? Because he struck again.

I have a friend who needs #6 plastic to make shrinky dinks. Apparently you don't have to buy the expensive stuff, you can make your own. Who knew? Anyway, I was keeping some blueberry containers for her. They were in the fridge with a few berries left. Afraid that Captain Trash would get to them first, I cleaned them out, put them in a plastic bag and put them on top of my purse so I would remember to take them to her. I didn't see her at Open House, so I brought them back in the house and put them on top of my purse again. I specifically tied them up in a Kroger plastic bag to keep Captain Trash from seeing them. I almost put a note on them saying, "Hands Off Captain Trash," but alas, I could not find the "sticky" tape that my children thieved from my desk. When I couldn't find the containers this evening, I hoped for the best.

Me: Honey, you didn't happen to see some blueberry containers that I washed and dried and put in a plastic bag did you?"

Captain Trash: Yep, their gone. I threw them away.

That's when I started to get irritated at being married to a super hero. We never argue over normal things like in-laws, money or how to raise the kids. We argue over the dirty house, our busy schedules and Captain Trash throwing things away that do not belong to him.

Me: WHAT!?! I was saving those which is why I specifically tied them up in a bag where you couldn't see them and put them on top of MY PURSE.

Captain Trash: Well, their gone now.

Me: But I was saving those for someone. Why would you throw them away. They were in a bag. ON MY PURSE!

CT: Looked like trash to me. If it looks like trash, I'm going to throw it away.

And it went on like that for a few more minutes until our three-year-old told us to "stop fighting and be nice." Properly chagrined, I came downstairs to write. I fuss. I fume. I get over it. And Captain Trash lives to fight paper another day. He never apologizes by the way. Captain Trash is, after all, a super hero who is obviously saving us all from death by paper. Who knew living with a super hero could be such a pain in the arse!

*Update, Captain Trash went diving in the kitchen trash and found the containers, so my friend will get her plastic after all. He did ask, however, why she needed my trash. Does that matter? I was saving it! It was tied up in a bag NEXT TO MY PURSE! I am, however, pacified. Captain Trash is not evil, just misguided. And yes, you don't need to remind me that if I just got my self together, this would not be a problem. Why are you perfect people reading my blog anyway?

*Update #2, Captain Trash read and approved this blog entry. He also laughed so hard he had tears coming out of his eyes, so all is good. It did, however, spur him on to tackle the pile of mail. I will now hear questions about what we need to keep for the next hour. Careful what you wish for!


  1. I laughed too! I love your writing style! It's like I was right there with you waiting for Captain Trash to strike. ; ) And for the record, he'd be fighting paper all over my house! If you think you're the Queen of Clutter, I'd be the Queen Mum 'cause you can be sure my house is worse!

  2. Be thankful for Captain Trash, o ye of clutter. My mom taught art at at least three different times in her life (and is currently teaching Art Therapy at ETSU), so no art was ever thrown away. Ever.

    Pa was a technical writer for Texas Instruments (waaaay back when before it became Siemens), so any writing assignments were never thrown away. Ever.

    Be thankful that there is a sort of cosmic check and balance at your house. Even if you put it in the third pile from the left, about half-way down, laying opposite of the other items (and trust me, all good Virgos know this trick), it will look like trash to Captain Trash. (Trust me, how they can't see the organization is beyond me.)

    Be thankful. :^)

    Also, I want to say that we would use gallon milk jugs to make Shrinky-Dinks back in the day. However, something in my adult mind warns against toxic fumes, etc. So, I don't know if it was a faulty memory, or simply the 70s.