Katharine Ketay 3m 774
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Topic: Write an essay somehow inspired by a gigantic container of peanut butter, a huge jar of mayonnaise, or perhaps, even, a foot and a half tall jar of mustard . . .? (I’ve decided to “take a little risk and have fun.”)
Warning: This is a true story.
My mother sits happily in her sparse bedroom: a bed, a desk, a chair, a computer, and two totes. She smiles, taking pride in the fact that she can move all her belongings out of the house in five minutes — if need be. How did she assume this Gandhi-esque simplicity? Could it possibly be from living with another member of my family? (Since I want to keep my allowance, I won’t name names . . . .) And what do two totes have to do with this anyway?
The pantry is stuffed. Ten bottles of never-opened Kraft Blue Cheese-flavored salad dressing lie, coated with dust, on a shelf. Across from them are one-hundred-and- seven shiny “no-brand” tuna cans; one can guess what’s for dinner. (At least the five cats are happy.) Seventy-six bottles of “his” favorite “Paradise Blend” mystery juice take over the bottom shelves, spilling onto the floor; and, at such an unbeatable price, he had to buy the juice with the “floaties” that the rest of us won’t touch. And what are we possibly going to do with the fourteen packages of pasta without any sauce?
He can’t say “no.” If it’s on sale, he buys it, calling for the children (the “work crew”) to lug the groceries inside . . . . He can’t say “no” when his relatives want to bequeath to him their belongings, hence, we have a basement full of totes containing Great Aunt Laura’s treasured pea-green china. (And who is Great Aunt Laura anyway?) And we still have Grandma’s eighteen-pound jar of lentils, given to him upon her death in ’92. He can’t bear the thought of throwing them away, and we can’t bear the thought of eating them . . . . He can’t say “no” when his friend, a professor, needs a place to store 806+ boxes of notes — our basement . . . . He can’t say “no” to my brother’s and sisters’ pleas for a pet, only to bring home four turtles, seven parakeets, four hermit crabs, three rabbits, two dogs, forty-nine guppies, and a hampster. And the mice take seriously his command to “go forth and multiply.” My brother, owner of the mice, has gone into the breeding business. It’s a good investment, since the Hyde Park Pet Store pays $1/mouse. And, with $1,000 already spent on banana chips and pine bedding, he has grossed $42.
But how did all of this come to happen? Well, maybe it’s genetic . . . .
Perhaps he gets his strange habits from my Grandpa. At the ripe old age of 94, Grandpa is a lover of stuff. While he does not have a pantry of his own, Grandpa does have a closet, which houses forty-two pairs of white tennis shoes, just in case. And he seems always to have mystery packages from Haband! arriving in the mail, along with a mound of identical khakis that keeps on growing. Grandpa also just can’t get enough of knickknacks; although Buck and Chuck, the Dueling Banjo Chipmunks, are no longer able to bob up and down to country music, they still share a table with Big Mouth Billy Bass, who wags his fins and wishes everyone who passes a Merry Christmas.
My sister Eliza seems to be following in their footsteps, carrying on the grand family tradition. She has collections of her own, her favorite being thirteen angels, which are quickly consuming her bedroom. Not to mention the eight-foot tall angel from the antique store. I had a bad feeling when, perusing the store with my mom, I saw a “Sold” sign taped to it; “he” had been there the day before. And insurance covers Eliza’s asthma inhalers, sent once a month for the past ten years. It is sheer luck if she can slit open the door to her wardrobe a crack and grab one without the other one-hundred-nineteen spilling out. We were joking about giving them out as “treats” this Halloween; we’d have leftovers, even if we still lived on Harper Avenue.
But perhaps the collections and mounds of stuff aren’t really so bad. They all add to the flavor of the house, and they might come in handy some day. Even the eight-foot angel. After all, it has ten light bulbs sticking out of its head.
This was the essay I submitted to the University of Chicago and they accepted me!