Hoarding and He Who Dies With the Most Stuff Wins

The article in this morning’s newspaper in the Salt Lake Tribune (www.sltrib.com) said it took K Kay ten years to accumulate the mountain of stuff in her house. The story came to the Salt Lake Tribune’s attention after neighbors complained about the growing piles on the suburban front porch. I’ve seen worse on A&E’s show Hoarders. Kay isn’t a record holder for stuff, though there doesn’t appear to be enough room on the wall for the homey wall hanging I used to see in houseware stores, “He who dies with the most stuff wins.”

Last week New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on sugared drinks over 16 ounces, which is less than half of what a letter writer in today’s editorial page wrote was for sale at a local theatre. I’ve seen the 44 ounce drink that is sold in the theaters once owned by a man who has died from diabetes, Larry Miller. I couldn’t hold it, it was so big. I’ve seen Miller’s marble house on a hill overlooking the city. I guess he won because he did have a lot of stuff.

Personally, I think it’s nice standard wine glasses have grown. My grandmother’s only hold four tablespoons so I use them for small condiment dishes. I also think it’s nice standard portions have grown so in restaurants. I almost always bring something home for another meal, thus cutting the price in half.

The Tribune article focused on Kay’s problems the same way they focus on all obsessions and/or exaggerated behaviors. Professionals call the problem “so intense, so deep, so embedded.” Neighbors and family run the gamut from disgusted to helpless. The person whose problem it is always makes a statement of how helpless she feels or how lonely he feels.

More, morer, and most? The rule of comparatives and superlatives doesn’t work here. Perhaps because we, as Americans, only understand the loser and the winner. We don’t believe there is a happy middle. When do we stop feeding ourselves the delusion that there isn’t a race or a prize to do more shopping, drink more sugar or alcohol, or to fill our stomachs? In Kay’s case it may be now since the neighbors are upset and laws have been broken. The rest of us, I think, are still on our own to consider what race we are in and if we even want to win.

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