Fashion overload
out of the closet

A few days ago I opened my closet door and found myself staring into a dark maw of nothingness. Where had all my clothes gone?

I immediately started to think of the most ludicrous possibilities first. A thief must have come in, cleared out my closet, but left everything else in the house. OK, that seemed unrealistic, even to me.

Maybe a rift in the time-space continuum had opened in the precise location of my closet, and now, instead of a gateway to cotton, wool and the occasional poly blend, it was a portal to another dimension.

This seemed only slightly more likely than my first thought, so I took a second look, and out of the bottom of my eye, noticed the top of the clothes rod, with all the clothes "hanging" on it--just a few feet lower than it should have been. In a brilliant stroke of deductive reasoning, I figured that unless I'd suddenly grown 48" in the past few hours, the rod must have moved.

I looked at where it used to be and saw that the bracket on the right side had split clean in half, sending the rod and clothes to the floor (or as close as they could get in my crowded closet).

It seemed like a sure sign from the universe that I had too many clothes. But I couldn't figure out when this had happened, and why I hadn't heard it. Neither my wife or I heard anything, which makes me think I should have my hearing checked, or look at the blueprints of my house to see why my closet is soundproofed.

Since I loathe doing any kind of home repair, I either wanted to learn to live with it this way, or call someone to fix it. But even _I_ could look at the little wooden bracket, held on with a single screw, and think I could replace it. Though not immediately, as it was Sunday and there wasn't a hardware store within 30 miles of me that was open, and besides, I seem to remember reading that the great almighty frowns on performing home repairs on a Sunday. Yet another reason to love Sundays.

Luckily I didn't need anything in that closet, which made me wonder why it was so full. I have a small closet where I put my favorite clothes so I just went there to get pants and a sweater.

If I could only figure out a way to know, in advance, which clothes I'd want to wear almost daily, then I'd only need maybe two pairs of pants, two shirts and a sweater. But I can only figure this out once I've bought something and worn it, by which time it doesn't seem right to return it. So I have a big closet full of stuff I wear occasionally if ever, and a very small closet of the things I like to wear every day.

When Monday came around I went out and bought a new bracket, which cost $1.19. I came home and was amazed when I was able to remove the screw that I was sure would have to be dynamited from the wall.

I screwed in the new bracket. Just like that. All done. Or so I thought. When I started to remove clothes from the rod so it would be light enough to lift, I realized that about half the things in the closet were either too big, too ugly, or too Miami Vice, and should have been put out with the first Bush administration.

So I started making piles of things to 1) take to the local thrift store, 2) sell on eBay to someone in an 80's time warp, 3) rediscover things I'd totally forgotten and really liked, so it was like shopping and getting new stuff for free.

I lifted the rod back in place, and of course it wouldn't fit. The new bracket was 1/4 of an inch thicker than the old one. My wife suggested I "bend it." But since the rod was a galvanized steel pipe I couldn't bend it into place until my cape with the big "S" on it came back from the cleaners.

I had no tools for cutting pipe and my nail file seemed futile. So I put the pipe in the car and, naturally, it was just long enough to dig into the seat and door panels making what I'm sure are permanent dents. I've yet to see a piece of home improvement material that wasn't designed to dent or take the finish off some part of the car.

I drove the inflexible, mean-spirited pipe to the local "building supply" (if you call it a "hardware store" they look at you as if they're going to chase you around the parking lot with a handsaw) to ask if they could trim it.

They don't like cutting things there, I've never been sure why. They've got the big tools and goggles and all, yet if you ask them to cut things they look like _you're_ the only thing they're going to cut.

But I figured if they wouldn't cut it, then I'd just buy a new one and they'd _have_ to cut that. I pulled out the pipe and said, "Do you have pipes like this? I need one just like this but ¼" shorter. Or, can I pay you to trim this one?" I figured if I offered to pay a lot for a new one, or less for a trim, maybe they'd take pity on me and take my money.

The guy grabbed the pipe and said, "Yeah" and that was all. He put the pipe on the cutting machine and asked, "Are you sure about the ¼" or is that an estimate?" Well, I'd measured twice but I wasn't really sure, and I did know if he cut too much it would just fall through the bracket, so I said, "I'm sure it's an estimate."

I tried not to look when he made the cut, I didn't want to jinx it. He told his co-worker, "Charge him for a one inch cut," which was four times more than he actually removed but since the bill came to $1.74 I didn't think it was worth it to argue.

He handed me the pipe, now dripping with oil and I saw this as one more element in the home-improvement-car-hating-conspiracy. I wiped it off as best I could and put it in the car, pretty sure the $1.74 cut would cause at least $174 worth of damage to the interior.

I got the pipe home and held my breath as I put it in place... and.... it.... let's just say I didn't expect it to fit, so I wouldn't have been surprised or disappointed if it hadn't. But amazingly it did. I put my clothes back, now arranged by summer/winter, then by color, so my clothes now look like a rayon rainbow.

I also took the opportunity to clean the floor of the closet, which had grown like layers of sedimentary rock, here a strata from the 70's (was that polyester shirt ever going to turn back into oil?), there a strata from the 80's (them's mighty big collars!), and the 90's (is that a Hawaiian shirt or a tent?).

Now my closet looks all very "Queer Eye."

Yes, it took an entire day, but it was like a personal history lesson combined with a shopping spree. It's almost enticed me into cleaning the Grand Canyon of storage spaces, the garage. Almost. I'll have to wait until something there falls down.

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One Final Word

One man's polyester shirt is another man's treasure.




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