The other day, while doing a little promotional blurb about the weather, I said, in my typically dorky manner, “You’ll have to dig that umbrella out of the closet by tomorrow!”
Three things came to my admittedly empty brain space:
First: Who am I to tell anyone what to do with their personal life? Weather goobers do this kind of thing all the time. “You’ll need that jacket today!” “Don’t forget your sunscreen!” “Get out there and mow the lawn!” As a viewer, I know how annoying this can get at times. In fact, when I hear a TV Talking Head say “You’ve got to look at this!” I make a point of NOT looking! That kind of obstinance may explain my childhood familiarity with the chair outside my elementary school principal’s office.
Second: Does anybody really use an umbrella anymore? I had an email from a viewer once telling me that real men don’t carry bumbershoots anymore. Of course, that made me self-conscious about the Powerpuff Girls umbrella I had in the trunk of my car. I grabbed it one early morning, in the dark, on my way to work. Really. It was just handy. Of course, that was several years ago when our daughter was very little. I can’t explain why I still have it.
Finally, the Third thing that came to my noggin was Fibber McGee and Molly.
From 1935 until 1959, the adventures of Fibber McGee and his long-suffering wife, Molly, filled the radio airwaves. My dad was a big fan. After the show left the air, he purchased this set of records.
He ordered them by mail from The Longines Symphonette Society. Very highfalutin! I listened to these records over and over. I loved Fred Allen and Jack Benny. The old news reports were fascinating. Forget about television or the Interweb…nothing is more gripping than the radio report about the crash of the Hindenburg. There were actually three records worth of memories, plus, because my father did indeed “ORDER NOW!”, a bonus album:
When I was little, this recording scared the pants off of me. I haven’t listened to it since my early teens for just that sartorial reason.
Mixed in with all the days-gone-by broadcast goodies, of course, Fibber McGee and Molly! One of the running gags on the show had to do with Fibber and his stuffed-to-the-brim closet. Whenever he approached that door, Molly would yell, “Don’t open that closet, McGee!” It became a catch-phrase…along with “Tain’t funny, McGee.” I still say both of these things from time to time. When it comes to pop culture catch-phrases, I’m not quite up to date, but I’m trying. In fact, I may start using “Dyn-o-mite!” in about a year and a half.
We have several closets around our place that rival Fibber’s.
In addition to six people’s worth of coats and jackets, the closet at our back door is stuffed with:
lots of stadium blankets
socks…none of which match the others
my plastic Ace Hardware bag full of shoe polish, old rags and a shoe brush
“air boot” used after the crutches
Last I looked, there was no leg and foot in the boot in our closet.
We also have this thing hanging on the inside of the door that is supposed to help you be more organized. We have filled the pockets with non-matching mittens and gloves, scarves nobody wears, hair spray, combs, a broken workout band thing, small umbrellas…except the aforementioned Powerpuff girls parasol…receipts. (Note to self: Do NOT show closet to IRS.)
This is NOT our so-called organizer. This one is much, much better.
Our front closet, the one we’d use for guests’ coats if we ever had guests, is no better:
Board games of every sort…Milton Bradley, himself, may be in there somewhere
Mr. Bradley’s first attempt at a game to play at home was called “Find It In My Beard!” It didn’t sell.
A miniature keyboard with one battery missing
Lots of school binders some of which include assignments that are, obviously, very late
Leaves…from the trees
Leaves…from the dining room table
Christmas wrapping paper
Folder, pamphlets, booklets from colleges all over the country
Shoe box full of batteries
Shoe box full of air
These are just the two “community” closets. I really don’t want to get into the condition of the closets in the bedrooms. Let’s just say that my daughter’s closet looks like it has had an upset stomach and regurgitated clothing all over her bedroom floor.
When I was a kid, I made a point of keeping my room in order. It helped that I had no friends asking me to come out and play. A few days after my dad got those old radio show records, I decided to recreate the famous Fibber moment. I piled everything I could into my little closet. Books, toys, pillows, blankets. It still wasn’t enough. So, I put the mattress from the bed in there, too. Once I got it in place, I asked my mom to come up and help me “look for something.” She played along. As she approached the closet door, I yelled “Don’t open that door, McGee…uh…Mom!” She did! AND…AND…AND…
The mattress was holding everything in place.
Not exactly hilarious.
That re-creation worked about as well as another I lifted from Little Rascals movies that I tried out on my dad. I put a large, hardcover book in my pants…the backside.
This was the book I used in my attempt. Captain Kangaroo would not have approved!
Then, I tried to instigate a conflict:
“Dad,” I said, “Tell me to go clean my room.”
“Well, Joel,” he replied, “I’m sure your room is already clean.”
“Just tell me to go clean my room, please.”
“Okay. Go clean your room.”
“No, Dad, you’re supposed to get angry with me and then give me a whack on the hinder.”
“Well, Joel, why would I do that? Like I said, your room is already clean so it’s no big deal.”
“Look, please, just do it..”
“Well, okay, Joel, but would you please take that book out of your pants, first, so I don’t hurt my hand?”
That’s not the way it went for Spanky and Alfalfa.
Meanwhile, back at the closet, years ago I did a story for Channel 9 about a new company in town which specialized in getting people’s closets straightened up and organized. We shot the story at our house. Unfortunately, the poor woman assigned to our clutter took one look and went screaming into the night.
I tried to warn her before she opened the door but she had no idea who I was talking about when I mentioned Fibber McGee!