A look on the lighter side: Pandemic spawns happy hoarding


Some days it seems like this quarantine will never end. I can’t exactly say I’m getting used to it, but I am noticing a few ways it has changed me.

For example: I was never good at throwing things out, but recently I have probably escalated to full-on hoarder. I used to think my parents were crazy for washing out used plastic sandwich bags and lovingly setting them out to dry.

“Mom, you’re taking better care of them than you do your own stockings!”

“Of course I am, dear. I can throw my stockings into the washing machine.”

Now, every time I empty a plastic bag of its contents, I find myself washing and hanging it up, too — because “You never know when you’ll need one” — and you can’t just run out and buy a box of them anymore.

Many years ago my greener friends and relatives began giving me grief about my use of paper. “Think how much paper you’d save if you reused your printer paper from one draft to another.”

“I might not be able to tell which draft is which.”

“Of your own writing? Anyway, you can just use whichever version is better, can’t you?”

“Um, of course,” I said. Too embarrassing to explain that sometimes I get lost between versions.

That’s not to mention how many hours I wasted trying to predict which side of a page would come out with the printing, after putting an X on one side first. I could have knitted an afghan with all the time I wasted on that!

Sometimes, the pandemic forces me to go through all the boxes in the house that I had put away “for a rainy day,” when I’d have enough time to sort through them.

“This IS the rainy day, Judy,” says my loving spouse. I can’t argue with him about that. But it’s a lot more work than just shopping could ever be.

For example, I am going to need earbuds to rehearse socially distanced High Holy Days music online with my synagogue choir. No problem, I responded; I have five pairs.

But I annot now find a single one of them.

I never even bought the wireless kind because I knew they wouldn’t last 30 seconds in my possession before getting lost, but surely, with all those wires, at least one little earphone might come to the surface? I might spot it — like the fluke of a humpback — “Thar she blows! It’s in the gloves and hats drawer!” — and eventually reel it all in, like a whale or at least a small fish that’s been successfully harpooned. But no luck.

I also need a microphone. And I know I’ve seen one — somewhere in this house. But where? And when? Does that memory date from when the kids were small? From someone’s bar mitzvah? Or someone’s high school band?

The darned thing could be almost anywhere — the attic; a spare room — anywhere except in the bathtub.  That’s where we’re storing all the toilet paper.

I’m great at squirreling things away. There’s only one drawback: squirrels are not very systematic. And I was not the most organized person at the best of times. “What’s this doing here?” I would ask my husband after tripping over a box of outgrown baby clothes on the hall closet floor.

“That’s my question, but I’ve given up asking,” he replied. One time he just couldn ’t help himself. I had unearthed a suitcase from the back of the linen closet, so there was a good chance it housed some washcloths and hand-towels that had gone missing. I unzipped it and out tumbled some moth-eaten sweaters from 30 years ago, complete with moths,some papers and notebooks — and a frying pan.

“Why is this here?” I demanded to know. “What is this frying pan doing here, jammed in with sweaters? It doesn’t make any sense!”

My husband couldn’t answer, he was laughing so hard. “My thoughts, exactly!” he finally managed to say.

But still no microphone or earbuds.

I guess the pandemic hasn’t changed me enough.


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