Thursday, February 25, 2016

The other side of de-cluttering

With all our Third Third talk of de-cluttering, we might lose sight of the occasional pleasure in coming across some bit of nostalgia. So there I was, sorting through a box to clear the area for the Great Carpet Tear Up, and I came across some glorious stuff: original newspaper stories about Woodstock (I was there!); letters I’d written home from college and from my first job; even notes left for me by a Secret Santa in college. I found a whole packet of photos of my sisters and me shoveling snow from the driveway on Long Island – just in time for me to take them back and show them.
But the thing that sent me right to the scanner to send it off to my sister, Allison, is the “test” I gave for members of our secret club. She and I were the only members. It was a “women only” club so it would exclude my brother, and our younger sister was still too young to join. The club was named the “Subconchental Club,” which is not how I remember pronouncing it, but that’s what it says on the test.

The test covered things like our “12-letter passage,” our secret signal, our secret names, and our “chief game.” But this is the thing that cracks me up: Not only was I the one who created the test, I was the one who scored it. I always gave myself points for good answers and marked “X” on Allison’s sheet so she didn’t get credit.

Oh, did I mention I was the older sister?

For example, the test says, “Make up an arts and crafts thing. Something to do with our hands. (worth 20 points).”
    Barbara’s answer: We can make pinwheels to give little children (little drawing of pinwheel)    GOOD IDEA, 20 points
    Allison’s answer: Origami like we did in summer school. Example: swan, house, fox and so on.    XXXXX, no points

“Name three projects we can work on in our club. Helpful ones.”

  1. Learn how to plant flowers. XXXXX, no points
  2. Make things to make the house look pretty. XXXXX, no points
  3. Clean the house to help #2. XXXXX, no points
Now I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this except for the score sheets from Sark. Sark is a word game with a deck of letter cards. Letters are drawn and you try to make words for points. My parents played this game, and there are still score sheets with their names, my grandfather’s name, my aunt’s.
When we first played with Sophie, she loved going through the old score sheets. Except she noticed that I gave myself points for non-words and didn’t count my sister Allison’s words:

“NAMS is not a word, but you gave yourself five points! And FLA is not a word and you gave yourself three points! You cheated!”

And then I always wrote “I won!” on my sheet. Allison had “hee,” but I must have told her that wasn’t a “real” word because she got zero points.
There’s that old joke about Linus thinking he’d have to go to school twice as long to unlearn everything Lucy taught him. Our family used to say that about Allison.

So this is one of the virtues of de-cluttering: you go through the junk that otherwise is just sitting there in a box. And maybe you decide not to toss any of it just yet because this was just too funny to find and it makes you want to phone your sister because there’s no one else in the world who was a member of that secret club. And you think of when you went through stuff with your mother and now her memory is so gone she didn’t even see how funny it all was. And so for now, while you’re still remembering and laughing, this is not the time to toss it.

So the box goes into the closet and maybe you’ll save time when your sister visits to go through it together and hoot and laugh over it.

De-cluttering score: zero
Glorious trip down memory lane: I won!


  1. How great is this?!? And you are right about the name of the club, it is pronounced differently than it is spelled (I didn't remember ever seeing it written before). Speaking of pronunciation, one of the things I remember having to "re-learn" is when you told me that "envelope" pronounced ˈen-və-lōp is letter size and "envelope" pronounced ˈän-və-lōp is legal size. Oh well. Funny, too, how I don't remember at all your being unfair (sigh) but only the fun we had. It must be love. xxxx Allison PS: Don't you DARE un-clutter those things!

  2. That's a totally legit "KEEP" - I think I'd keep it forever.

    1. Whew! Some things are definite "forevers." Thanks Barbara, and thanks Betsey whoever you are.


Sharing Button