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I wouldn't really call what I do hoarding. I'm a New Englander, and we are known for being thrifty. I prefer to think of what I do as preparing for unforeseen circumstances. I don't throw anything away until I'm absolutely certain that neither I nor any of my family nor anyone I know nor anyone in the entire world might someday need it.

When I was first married, our first house had a separate four-car garage. I couldn't fit a car into it. I would take our trash to the dump every Sunday, and I almost always returned with more stuff that I’d brought. I couldn't believe people would throw this stuff away.

One day, it appeared that someone had cleaned out a library and brought boxes and boxes of hardcover books to the dump. Are you kidding me? I love books! I loaded them all up and brought them home to my garage. Years later, when we sold the house and moved, I loaded up all those boxes of books in the garage and took them to the dump. I never read a single one of them. In my own defense, I have to say that if I ever had needed a book to read, I had hundreds of them in the garage.

One day my next-door neighbor, who was building a pigeon coop, told me he needed to get a window for the new shed. “What size?” I asked. When he told me a standard six over six, I invited him to my garage. I had a six over six, a twelve over twelve, several stained-glass windows, and about six others. I let him take his pick and felt justified in having saved all those windows for years.

Another neighbor mentioned that he needed an anchor for his boat. “What kind?” I inquired. Let's check the garage. An eight-pounder, a twelve-pounder, a twenty-pounder, and a giant mushroom. He took the mushroom.

My point is that I'm not hoarding. I'm a community resource center. Yeah, that's the ticket!

If you need office supplies, don't go to Staples; give me a call. Old, broken-down printers? I'm your guy. Electronic cables for a 1980s Atari or Altair computer? Yup. Boxes of cassette tapes? Come on over.

This past weekend I decided to start cleaning things out. I started pulling out boxes of stuff and planned to separate the contents into piles. A keep pile, a throwaway pile, and an I'll-figure-it-out-later pile. After several hours, I started wondering why the throwaway pile was still empty. This is all still good stuff. Someone might need this bag of random rubber bands, and I could help them. If I throw it away, I'm of no use to them at all.

Someday my kids may actually want that box of tiny guitar models that Louise won't let me display. If you need a six-inch wooden model of an Ibanez bass guitar, or any of about sixty other guitars, I'm the man. I got them in a close-out on eBay almost fifteen years ago.

In the 1980s I was in a play in which I played a wizard. You can't be a wizard unless you can do magic. So I learned how to do magic, and I still have a suitcase full of magic tricks. The last time I actually did a magic trick was in 1989, but if I need to do one, I have dozens of them ready to go.

I've had a banjo for years, in case I ever want to learn to play the banjo. I also have a ukulele, a mandolin, a dulcimer, an autoharp, a set of bongos, and a hammer dulcimer. I can't play any of them. I have a Yamaha Motif keyboard that cost me thousands of dollars. I was going to learn to play keyboard in case my band needed me. I don't have the band anymore, and the keyboard is covered by a sheet so it won't get dusty. I'm not selling it because I still may want to play the keyboard someday.

So if you or anyone you know wants to start a band, give me a call. I've already got all the instruments.


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