My wife, the sentimental Cinelli, has a tendency to save and I have a tendency to discard, and we are on the brink of a possession crisis.
What brings us to the point of staring into the abyss that divides our individual preferences is that we are turning our house into a commune, welcoming five additional family members to move in while they resituate their lives.
They bring with them a dog and three cats to add to our own grouping of a dog and three cats which, while not necessarily germane to today's topic, indicates how crowded our home has become.
So we have to get rid of our useless things to make room for whatever useless things they might have acquired.
We begin in a hallway lined with built-in cabinets that represent a kind of no-man's land of items we have saved during 63 years of marriage.
I say to Cinelli, "Let us be civilized in deciding what to keep and what not to keep, without shouting or calling names."
I smile benevolently and spread my arms in the loving manner of Mahatma Gandhi declaring a principle of non-violence toward the British.
She says, "I hate that mocking grin."
I drop the smile and say, "Let's just get on with it."
"For instance," I say, lifting out a box, "we have several containers of old baby-clothes when, alas, both of our babies are over 40 and no longer have a need for tiny frilly dresses or itty-bitty shoes."
She says, "What kind of an animal are you?"
I realize I have erred in starting with the baby clothes, so I hold up a worn-out pink bathrobe. "I'm sure that the Salvation Army would be delighted to have this among its merchandise."
"You don't remember that, do you?" she says tightly. "It was your gift to me on our first wedding anniversary."
"I gave you a ragged bathrobe?"
"Funny, funny," she says, reaching into the closet and coming up with a worn out pair of Levis. "Are you saving these for a special occasion? Your deification, perhaps?"
"They have sentimental value. I wore them when we went to Africa."
She sniffs and says,"I thought I smelled rhino."
I ended up dumping the Levis and she gave up the ragged pink bathrobe, but we are still working on the baseball mitt that is missing one finger, the martini glass with a broken stem, the stuffed bird that caws when you squeeze it and the collection of mayonnaise jars that, you never know, you might need someday.
I think détente is in the wind.
Search AARP Blogs