Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Secret Shame

Before I speak of this, I have to say in my defense that i hang around my sister and her daughters for a large part of the day. I am exposed to a lot of things that would not normally come within my purview. I know more about High School Musical and the Jonas Brothers than is entirely comfortable in a forty-five year old man. So when I tell you that I've become addicted to a show on The Style Channel called Clean House, I pray you will be understanding and merciful.

The host of the show, Neicey Nash, brings her crew to a family that is having trouble with "clutter, mayhem, and foolishness." They clean the house, hold a garage sale, and then use the money to redecorate and refurbish. Along the way there is some counselling with the family about what led them to such a pass and how they can keep from relapsing.

What I find fascinating is the stuff the family is always advised to give up. Usually it is some old family keepsake or piece of junk that has memories attached. Their mantra (and it can be a sensible one) is that it is the memories that are important, and not the object. But what is the one category of item that is always targeted if it's in the house? You got it! Action figures!

If there are action figures--especially if they belong (horrors!) to a GROWN MAN!--they must go. If the fellow is lucky they let him keep a small selection. A grown lady's doll collection usually gets more respect, but they can be pretty ruthless there too. And do you really need all these silly books?

The results are admirable. The living conditions are vastly improved. I watch with an uneasy mingling of horror and approval. The physical needs of the family are met. But a little bit of their individuality--what makes them them--seems to be gone. I watch, and each week I ponder the question of how and if each family is helped. I can't really decide, and I can't stop watching.

1 comment:

AlanDP said...

I never watch those shows, but I did catch bits of one when Sandy was watching it. The couple they worked over had a nasty habit of never cleaning an appliance. They used it until it got to skanky and then bought a new one. That was a little too much like Ed Gein to me. They also made them get rid of their huge game collection, which was cruel and just wrong, because they used them to have game nights with their friends all the time.

Their house looked great afterwards, but as individuals they had been destroyed. It reminded me of that old Pete Seegar song, "They're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same."