Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Four cardboard boxes

This weekend I embarked on a project I had been putting off for... let's see, I've lived here nearly four years, so... nearly four years: Cleaning out the office.

Wait, it gets even more exciting.

The office--AKA my spare bedroom--houses my workstation, two bookshelves containing among other things my Cheers trivia game, my old computer desk which has been turned into more shelf space, my old computer, some mostly unpacked luggage, an ironing board which is half covered with articles of clothing which I would estimate number around twenty mostly consisting of long-sleeved shirts still unironed from last winter, and last and most obstructively, four boxes that had been sitting along the north wall of the room since I moved in.

Trust me, it was messier than it sounds.

The centerpiece of this undertaking were the four boxes. Like a cardboard Stonehenge, they served as a constant reminder to all who entered--which was mostly just me--of my procrastination. This was not a task that I fancied (as evidenced by said procrastination).

And so with a modicum of determination, I opened the first box. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a regular-sized sled and five well-kempt New Kids--on the cover of my New Kids On The Block Christmas cassette!

(Counter-clockwise from bottom: Joey, Danny, Donnie, Jordan, and Jon--he's a Sagittarius.)

I had been looking for this for years! And now the search for a working cassette player begins.

Well, things were really looking up. So after opening the case, browsing through some of the lyrics and singing a few bars of "This One's For The Children," I proceeded.

The first box contained the usual things you would expect to find in storage: books, TV Guides, an unopened envelope which when opened revealed a thank you card for a graduation gift I had given... in 1993.

Also included were several of my folders and notebooks from college. Inside those were literally hundreds of lyrics that I had scribbled down, notes that I had passed back and forth with a girl in Music Theory freshman year, and lists. Lots and lots of lists.

There was a list of the 42 most fun days in high school, a list of 29 apartment rules that I'm pretty sure I made well before I ever had an apartment, and a list of a thousand songs that I had made out when Little Joe bet me that I couldn't name a thousand songs. Won myself ten bucks. Not bad for nineteen pages, handwritten, front and back.

There was also a list of 75 qualities to look for in a girl. It began with the line, "The perfect girl to marry would be a girl who..." These ideal qualities included:

#3. likes the Naked Gun movies.
#8. has a good, nice plump but not too big butt.
#14. likes Married...With Children. (Clearly, a few of these are still applicable.)
#16. has heard of Tom T. Hall. (That always knocked a lot of girls out as I recall.)
#19. doesn't eat a lot.
#35. would rather watch an Alabama football game than have sex. (Well, that goes without saying.)
#44. doesn't call your car a grocery carrier. (A definite deal breaker.)
#46. always cuts the grass. (It's possible that I was watching too much Married... With Children at the time.)
#72. knows how to play rock, paper, scissors. (The foundation of any solid relationship.)
And #'s 10, 17, 25, 32, 42, 51, and 57: looks like Brandy. (I may have had a crush.)

You know, compared to this, I actually seem mature now. Me! I know, scary.

And then there was the top secret Top Fifty list, typed out and dated, 3/17/94. This was a list of the fifty hottest girls we knew, compiled by LJ, Ben, me and my ex-roommate late one night at a Motel 6. The rules were that at least two of the four of us had to have seen the girl, and at least one of us had to be able to talk to her. We stayed up until at least 2 or 3 AM finishing the list. I still remember us tossing a Nerf basketball and hitting Ben as he kept trying to fall asleep before the list was done. Afterward we swore each other to secrecy. So, I'm not even really supposed to be telling you any of this.

Wow, I feel like I just betrayed the divine secret of the ya-ya brotherhood, whatever that is.

There weren't too many noteworthy items in the rest of the boxes: three bicycle inner tubes for the bike I no longer have, at least five shirts and two pairs of pants I had received as gifts that still had the tags on them, and a Tupperware container of chocolate candy. Let me reiterate here. Four. Years.

Still, I pressed on, sifting through the pieces of my past, cringing at some items, laughing at others. And then it happened, I found the proverbial crown jewel of my excursion. Behold, the jam shorts I sewed in 8th grade in Home Ec:

I still remember going with Mom to pick out the fabric, which to this day is the only time I've ever been inside a fabric store. I remember realizing too late that I had sewn in the elastic waistband all twisted--which is probably a good thing because as a guy, you don't wanna be too good at Home Ec. And from the looks of the nearly worn-through seat area, I must have worn them a lot. Which could help explain my girlfriend drought which extended into 9th grade.

My office is much cleaner now, the four cardboard boxes having been condensed down to a single plastic tub. I threw a lot of stuff away this weekend, and will be taking some more to Goodwill. But on the bottom shelf of one of the bookshelves is a shoebox with a couple of folders in it.

"Remember when we said, girl, please don't go, and how I'd be loving you forever? Taught you 'bout hangin' tough, as long as you got the right stuff..."


  1. Your list made me laugh. When I was - I actually don't know how old, but probably about 10 - my friends and I formed a secret club called the Big Friendly Carrot (the code name for the BFC: the Boyfriend Club). None of us had ever had a boyfriend but we were prepared: we each had a filofax in which we wrote about all the things we wanted from a boyfriend. We graded all the boys in the class in order of boyfriend potential and set each other tasks to find out secret information about the boys we liked. I used to be ashamed to admit this. But now I just think it's too peculiar not to share! And your list reminded me of it.

  2. I loved their Christmas album. I bought it on iTunes 2 Christmases ago and I ain't too proud to admit it (bad choice of words...I now have TLC's 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg' in my head).

    Jam shorts? Wow. That brings back memories....well, your pair doesn't but the Yankee men did wear something similar back then.

    So how applicable is that list of what you want in a girl today? Maybe you should write an updated one...although I have a feeling that 'cuts grass' will still appear.

  3. I recently sorted through a couple small boxes that were in my guest bedroom closet... and I'm still debating whether to post some of the things for the whole world to see. Unfortunately, they're not quite as juicy as some of the stuff you've discovered!

    But I'm curious about the 59 items from the Perfect Girl list that DIDN'T make the cut. Were they too obvious to post? Too embarrassing? Too naive? Too mushy?

  4. oh you are so awesome! You actually got rid of most of that stuff. I am so impressed and amazed.

    I hope you find that perfect girl! LOL!

  5. Thanks for brightening up my day
    You is too funny Bone--I'm surprised the girlfriend drought didn't extend longer. Must be a credit to something about you

    This was a laugh out loud throughout the whole post, pos

  6. Man, I wish you had provided before and after photos :)

    I also wish you had provided the entire list. The Brandy line just had me rolling. Did she know you were basing all future girlfriends off her?

    You sure have been into "Married...with children" lately!

    Oh and I laughed so hard I almost cried at the "What to my wondering eyes" line. That's just hilarious stuff.

  7. Oops, I had premature posting.

    I meant to add, that as funny as this post was, whenever I go through a bunch of stuff like this and toss old things out, I can't help but always feeling a bit sad. I'm impressed you were able to toss so much. It's just hard to let go sometimes of those things you once considered important enough to keep. Especially if you considered them important enough to move.

    Oh, and plastic boxes are better than cardboard: they hold up longer, and if for some reason your office should ever flood or have a leak in the roof or whatever, they protect contents a lot better :)

  8. J Adamthwaite - Aha! I knew girls did stuff like that!!! Now I am curious how the girls in my class graded me :) I guess we weren't clever enough to come up with a code name for our list. As a matter of fact, I know we weren't.

    Murf - Really? I think I looked for it on iTunes a year or two ago and couldn't find it. Hmm, maybe they only offer it around Christmas. You know, because that's when most normal people would be looking for it.

    So how applicable is that list of what you want in a girl today?

    I don't think very. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek even then (I hope).

    Honestly, I can't believe YOU didn't notice anything else about the photo.

    R8chel - Oh, mostly I just figured it was too long to post them all. Though I'd definitely go with embarrassing and naive over mushy and obvious. There were a couple of other TV shows mentioned, a couple other sports teams. I specifically remember one was "knows how to play Go Fish."

    Renee - Well, I kept most of the stuff I blogged about, except for the chocolate, the thank you card, and the TV guides. But I did throw away a ton of crap.

    Haha, actually I think I'd be kinda scared to meet that girl. She'd be too much like me. I can't be with someone like me. I hate myself! :)

    Katie - Why, thank you. That was the main thing I was hoping you would get out of this post.

    Pia - I'm surprised the girlfriend drought didn't extend longer.

    Haha. Yeah, now that I think about it, I kinda am, too. Aren't you glad you didn't know me then? :)


    TC - Before and after photos? Of the office? Oh no, I could never have posted a before photo. Let's put it this way: That would have been much more embarrassing to me than the 75 qualities to look for in a girl list :)

    And no, I don't think she ever had a clue.

    TC again - Yeah, it was hard to let go of a few things. But I kept the most important stuff. And as far as considering it important enough to move, I think it was partly a case of I didn't feel like going through it before I moved. So I just moved it all and figured I'd go through it some day. And that day was this weekend.

  9. I wonder how many of the top 50 would still make the list-I think you need to update that list!

    As for Tom T. Hall (one of the few country singers I like, the others being Johnny Cash and Doc Watson) I always took it a bad sign when a girl knew any country musician.

    And those pants... what can I say?

  10. Bone oh my gosh I think what was in style is in style again. I swear one of my students was wearing those shorts today.

    This was so funny and now I wonder about Sage's comment and being worried about girls that know country music...I grew up listening to country music.

    I'm still laughing about this post. The perfect girl is out there.

  11. "didn't we girl...oooh ooh"

    Sorry. Had to finish the lyric.

    I need to go through and do another purge of my place again. I'm accumulating too much stuff again. I have a feeling that my purge won't be as funny as yours.

  12. Guess we can all come to visit now that the guest room is clean! =p

    In college my gf's and I had a list we called 'The Web' it was all the people we had dated and how they were interlinked... scary really... gosh I wonder that list is today! uggg

    I remember Jam shorts! Loved them... but not terribly flattering on anyone! lol

    Oh and ok, I give... what was it with Tom T. Hall?

  13. You mean the photo of you NOT actually wearing those shorts you made but are wearing blue plaid boxers? Oh I noticed. :-)

  14. Oh LORD! Bone, put the shorts away. Burn those things and never look back; or keep them to wear for Halloween. They are funny, ugly, but funny!

    SOOOO your list...I'm out on some of these. However, there's good news- #3,8,14,46,72 all apply to me. I'm sorry but I would rather have sex than watch AL football. I just don't care about your team. I mean sure if we inserted a different team- Razorbacks, OU, or OSU...I might have a different answer.

    Thanks for the blast from the past!

  15. Is it just me, or does it look like those shorts might almost fit you? Hope they made the tub and not the trash.

  16. This completely cracked me up...LOL, Bone. :P

    I love that you know Jon is a Saggitarius...and those twisted shorts are the*best*ever!

    "Like a cardboard Stonehenge..." Your posts have such charm and humor; I walk away every time with a huge smile (except for those few where you move me to tears -- you're exceptionally good at those, too).

  17. There's absolutely nothing wrong with those shorts. But please pass them on and don't be tempted.....

  18. Sage - Well, I've probably not seen... hang on... at least 39 of them in the past five years. So it would be hard to say.

    PennyCandy - Are you serious? Just out of random curiosity, have you noticed girls avoiding him?

    Xinh - Well, if it's not, that would probably only be because you purge more than once every fifteen years.

    Helene - I remember Jam shorts! Loved them... but not terribly flattering on anyone!

    Well put. And quite diplomatic, too :)

    Oh come on. Tom T. Hall. He's the storyteller! For more visit tomthall.net.

    Murf - Oh good. For a minute there, I thought you were starting to slip.

    OK Chick - Sorry, I couldn't let go of the shorts.

    Wow, you actually match quite a few then. I'm impressed.

    Susan - Well, that's kinda what I thought to. But then when I tried them on, they barely came up past my knees. I think I was like a 28 waist then. I'm a 33 now.

    And I'm definitely keeping them!

    Sweetest in the Gale - Well, thank you for the very kind words :) Sometimes I think I've written something funny, but you never know for sure if other people will think it's funny.

    Cooper - Oh, I already was tempted. Hmm, I wonder if I could buy some new elastic and expand the waistline a bit...

  19. I'm proud of you for cleaning out your guest/ computer room. I need to be doing the same thing. Your list was a funny one, Bone. I never made a list probably should have though. I don't think the same guys would be as important to me now though. Hang in there the right girl is just around the corner. Hope all is well.

  20. Bone I am totally serious and he was one of the most popular boys on campus. All of the girls think he is cool and sexy cause he does his own thing.

  21. I have three brothers. I know how messy they were until they got married.

    They used to have tough time giving away their useless stuff. Infact I inherited all their books and music albums. No wonder I am such a rock music fanatic!

  22. "Oh come on. Tom T. Hall. He's the storyteller! For more visit tomthall.net."

    Thats the thing Bone... I DID visit the website! Still wondering why this man meant so much to you! lmao

    Have a great weekend! (no Jams!)

  23. What a great post! Kinda makes me want to clean out some of the boxes that I have been avoiding. Ok, not really.. but it was humorous!