Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoarding the Machete

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I caught a couple of random episodes of those hoarding shows over the weekend -- Hoarders and another one about being buried alive. Both shows are disturbing to watch on so many levels, yet like a wreck on the 405, I'm unable to look away when I pass by.

The one thing that doesn't resonate, even in HD, is the horrendous smell. I can only imagine what some of those dumps smell like with all that stale musty air, spoiled food, and dead varmints scattered about under neath five foot piles of debris. One episode featured a woman who didn't have a toilet any more so she had to use adult diapers. She would shit herself then toss the diapers on a pile in the kitchen.

Part of me wonders of hoarding goes much deeper than the superficial diagnoses from the dime store psychologists that appear on these shows. Yes, all of these hoarders are disturbed and suffer from some sort of deep emotional loss which is why they hoard. Each item is an endless gateway to emotions or possibilities. Some folks are lonely and get a little fucked in the head. Other are lazy apathetic slobs.

I can't help but wonder if hoarding is one of the nasty side affects of mass media marketing. The Don Drapers of the world are actually creating a hoarding epidemic as a result of constant bombardment (over decades and decades of commercials, subway ads, newspaper ads, etc.) to buy things we really don't need. Maybe some folks get too brainwashed and can't stop the consumer behavior.

When you hear stories about a 90-year-old lady with seventy cats hoarding stuff, well, that isn't as shocking as you think because let's face it... old people get senile and become shut ins. As filthy as their world is inside, it's still safer and warmer than the external world. However, many of these episodes of hoarding shows are about people my age or slightly older, which baffles me to no end. What compels thirty-somethings to keep buying stuff and then not toss stuff away. Well, being brought up by TV is an obvious answer.

Madison Avenue wins if we buy stuff we don't need then throw it away (in Hefty or Glad trash bags). I guess they still win if we buy stuff and hoard it, only to buy more. It's a disease, like problem gambling, and huffing paint thinner.

Sometimes, we don't hoard a ton of useless shit, but one or two random items. I guess this is how hoarding begins... with just one item, then another, and another. My grandmother had a weird thing about soap. In the upstairs bathroom at her brownstone, she had a medicine cabinet filled with bars of soap. Dozens and dozens. And not just one brand... multiple brands... like Irish Spring, Dial, and Dove. I have a feeling that grandma wasn't hoarding soap as much as she couldn't pass up a good deal when she saw it, which is why I used to hit her up for a bar of soap whenever I used to visit when I lived in Brooklyn.

When I moved in with Grubby at his condo in Henderson in late 2005, I noticed that he had an entire drawer in the bathroom devoted to casino soap. Dozens of bars. Dozens of bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Every time Grubby visited a casino hotel, he swiped the soap. Every. Time. He hoarded years of soap. Part of him felt entitled to the freebies because he had lost a shitload of money in those casinos and wanted to get something material out of it, albeit soap which slowly evaporates.

Here's one of my first YouTube videos, which now has over 6.7K views...

After four plus years of constantly being on the road, I drastically reduced my work/travel schedule. Since I've been spending more time in the slums of Beverly Hills, I have accumulated more stuff. Most of it is necessary items, but there are a few extraneous (like clothes and books). In the last year, I've found myself hoarding certain items that might be suspicious if I didn't live in an earthquake zone. I've been hoarding bottle water, canned foods, flashlights, MREs, Camping gear, and other tools necessary for surviving the Apocalypse. Since we live in an earthquake zone, these items are smart to have, so it's not quite hoarding as much as being extra-prepared.

I guess I won't officially have a problem until I start hoarding ammunition. I haven't gotten the green light for firearms, but I'm looking into picking up a machete. My colleague Jay suggested that I need to add a machete to my disaster/Armageddon closet just in case we're attacked by zombies.


  1. <span>Good post. When does Armaggedon starts ?</span>

  2. I personally know a couple of hoarders.  I think it "should" be so easy to just stop buying things, but apparently it's not.  I hoard books, collecting them like they are trophies, all perfectly lined up.  Great post Pauly! 

  3. Darlene2:12 PM

    When I was a teenager I would bring canned food home and store it in the basement in case something happened.  My family thought I was crazy and they were always swipping my canned food. When the millenium came I had a Y2K shelf with food and water and other supplies.  Now it is called the terrorist shelf. My husband and kids now think I'm crazy.