Yeah, so, on Sunday I witnessed a real-life episode of “Hoarders.”
A lifelong family friend’s father passed away, and she asked The Man to help her clean out her father’s house. It turns out her father was a full-on hoarder, and The Man has been working on cleaning out this house for weeks.
Secretly, I was dying to see the place, but I didn’t dare ask. “Hey, I heard that house is a fuckin’ freak show. Can I come over and gawk?” So, when my dad told me that there was a really great cherrywood dining room set in the house that David and I were welcome to have, I jumped at the chance to see the house.
The house is on a one-acre lot in Concord. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was how the yard is completely overgrown. Instead of taking out a machete and cutting through this jungle, The Man brought in sheep and goats to eat everything. Pretty cool, huh?
Before entering the house, my parents ordered me not to touch anything. I guess they thought I would just rub my hands on everything and immediately put them in my mouth, endangering their unborn grandson. I’m carrying precious cargo now. If I wasn’t pregnant, they probably wouldn’t have said anything.
Of course, once we got into the house the last thing I wanted to do was touch anything. It was disgusting. It wasn’t just messy — it was dirty; really dirty. There were cobwebs everywhere, overloaded with dead flies. I immediately took out my phone and starting snapping photos, because I’m an insensitive asshole.
The Man wants everyone to know that when he started, this hallway was packed, from floor to ceiling with stuff. There was a small, winding pathway through the stacks, leading to the kitchen. In the stacks were random papers, newspapers, magazines, record albums, boxes of junk, garbage and more.
As we walked through the place, there were rooms filled with boxes, some empty, some packed with clothes and books, but mostly it was just garbage. There were random knick knacks – a button from a winery, a little chicken statue, coffee mugs, board game pieces – all over the place. A pile of dishes here, old drapes there.
There were pictures all over the walls; maps and pictures ripped from magazines or books. It’s like he was investigating something but none of the pictures and maps seemed related at all.
I bravely ventured into the kitchen. There were cupboards filled with canned goods. Check out the Campbell’s Soup label on this can.
I don’t remember ever seeing that design, do you? How old is that can? And are those even pickles in that jar anymore? They have probably evolved into a living creature.
But somewhere in all this junk, The Man had uncovered a lovely cherrywood table. It needs some cleaning up, of course, but the owner had kept the table covered, so it is in great condition. The chairs were in the garage, next to a pump organ (sure, why not?) and more piles of dishes. The Man is taking table back to his place for some cleanup and the chairs to my uncle who does upholstery for some much-needed work. Once they are cleaned up, they are going to look great.
It is so sad to think that our friend’s father was living like this. It’s difficult to fathom, really. I had known this man my entire life. We spent holidays together, and I had no idea that after we stuffed ourselves with turkey on Thanksgiving that this is what he was going home to. But, his friends and family had known about this for years. Didn’t anyone walk in there one day and say, “Really, dude? Come on!?”
When I watch “Hoarders” I try to wrap my mind around it. Why do you need to save old pizza boxes? Do you really need every issue of National Geographic? If you have to create a pathway to get through your house, don’t you think, “Hmm, maybe this has gotten out of hand” and throw out some stuff. How do people live like this and think it’s perfectly normal? Even after witnessing the aftermath firsthand, I still don’t get it. But, man oh man, I’m really glad that before we moved into our new place, we threw out a bunch of stuff.