PAT is my personal system for handling litter. No, not the stuff that’s thoughtlessly strewn along streets and highways and is dropped in parks and on beaches. PAT, which stands for Put Away Things, is for the litter in my house. PAT is what keeps casual living from turning into chaos.
Dirty dishes in the sink, the morning newspaper in sections across the sectional sofa, laundry that didn’t make it into the washing machine – that’s some of my litter.
My husband’s litter takes the form of middle-age spread – not around his waist – around the house. There are times his desk is under so many layers of paper, I’d think he’d need archaeological training to find anything.
That’s when stacks of paper start growing like mushrooms on nearby furniture and eventually spread up the stairs to his bedside table. Then, in self defense, I precariously pile the stacks on his office chair. It’s my subtle way of saying “sit on it”.
Having teenagers is like having living, litter machines. Because my sons didn’t always respond to my dulcet tones when I called them, I found them by following their trail of litter. All teenagers have the same hang-up – they don’t hang up anything – from clothes to the phone.
Our phone used to be a major cause of litter – telemarketing litter. Now those calls have changed to spam, which litters my computer.
The mailman brings me litter addressed to Resident. My mind is littered with obsolete phone numbers, partial lyrics to old songs and rules for diagramming sentences. Gossip litters my thoughts, chronic complaints litter my morale and lies – even the little, white ones – litter my trust.
Then there’s the edible litter – cookies, peanuts, potato chips and anything chocolate. Edible litter causes guilt-littered feelings.
Frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion living causes litter. My mother lives by the belief everything should have its place. “Put it away when you’re finished with it” was her mantra.
In fact, even some things I put away still qualified as litter. According to my mother, who’s a strange combination of drill sergeant and Martha Stewart, clothes I didn’t wear, records I didn’t listened to, a couple of old boyfriends and anything that fit the category of “might use someday” were litter.
Anything that didn’t have a place in our lives was litter. Sergeant Stewart is visiting next month. Do you think dust is litter?
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
Take a minute to make yourself smile at