The Joys of the Cinched Belt

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Guess what folks. 2009 is here and we all have to tighten our belts. Big surprise huh?

Yup that’s right, no more shopping sprees at the mall. Bummer. Scooter only gets one pair of shoes this year and they ain’t coming from the Factory Outlet glutton orgy. Nor will they have suspension systems, lights or designer logos. They’re coming from K-Mart or Target.

A bad thing you say? Hogwash! It’s time to stop wasting money on frivolity. No that doesn’t mean we have to live like Puritans scorning luxuries. It means we can no longer afford to fill up our garages and rented self-storage units with crap! Now I like that idea.

How many times have people told me they had to buy that Chevy Suburban because when they take their annual weekend get away to the mountains or beach they have so much stuff to bring? Like what? They’ve got two or three kids and will be gone for three days. Do they really need to stuff the back with gizmos, gadgets and paraphernalia? I don’t recall my parents dragging along a heap of refuse for vacations. And somehow, we found ways to have fun without technology up the ying-yang. If I was bored on long drives I did something shocking… I read books! Actually, we probably had more fun than today’s iTV-addicted Simpsons.

So let’s rejoice in the depression… sorry I refuse to call it a "recession." We all know what it really is. There is no point in beating around the… er… Bush with niceties. Now is the time to clean out the garage! I mean come on, wouldn’t you really like to be able to find your way to the storage bin of old screws again? Or even use it for what it was designed for, parking the car? And I mean the car, not one of the cars.

It’s time to cut down on cars too. Hey Detroit is going belly up, partly because many of the cars they’ve been making are barely better than a Yugo. So that Chevy Corvette has got to go! Yeah, yeah, yeah… It looks cool, is an American icon and works better than Viagra for the aging male. But seriously, it’s useless junk. Out damn spot I say!

Anyway, back to the subject of cleaning out the garage.

Let me tell you about my dad. He’s reached the Golden Years where society no longer wants him in the way. That means the work force. That’s fine with him. It’s a Chartier tradition to contribute as little as possible to the monkey mess called… and I shudder at the thought… "Society." I’m proud of him for finally making the right choice.

How has Dad been spending his valuable retirement? He’s been purging the garage of something like four decades accumulated debris. Yes, I’m guilty too. Now, he’s a kind-hearted soul with good intentions. Everything is culled through carefully, cleaned up and donated to proper charities, like the Retarded Children’s Fund or Salvation Army… places where most of us will be buying are clothes soon. It’s taking my father time, but no rush. Rushing around like a mad dog is what careers are for. He’s done with that folderol. Now he owns his time.

I would go about the culling of the heap in the garage in a different way. I’d call up EJ Harrison’s Sanitation and order a honking big dumpster. You betcha. If I cannot remember an item, in it goes. I won’t be looking for buried treasure to sell on eBay, hang on to sentimental hand-me-downs or forgotten trinkets from Christmas of 1966. All goes into the dumpster and out to the landfill. Gotta provide some sort of foundation for the McMansions, even though nobody will be buying any in the near future.

I can toss out the useless collection of never-worn Victoria Secret’s diamond encrusted fantasy bras hanging next to the weed whacker. Bought one for The Wife every year at Christmas, much to her complete horror, until I went broke. I’ll let the Mantis People find them in an archeological dig in five million years. I’d love to be a rodent on the wall while they try and figure out what sort of elaborate snare for fresh meat they were. Not to mention the anatomy of the bizarre creatures long since extinct

Do I care if something is "green," recyclable or made of some dreaded polymer? Hell no! Styrofoam and plastic are nasty inventions to be sure. Oh the wonders Dr. Frankenstein has learned to concoct with chemicals. I hear these things will be hanging around on Mother Earth for the next ten thousand years… or longer! Well that sucks bovine buttocks. But am I worried? No way!

In roughly ten billion years our little sun will have run out of hydrogen to fuse together and make helium. And guess what, it’s gonna start making other elements. Gradually it will swell into a big red sun, instead of a medium yellow sun. And when it does it will swallow up the planets Mercury, Venus and… you guessed it… Earth. Poof! All the Styrofoam will be cleaned up in a jiffy. And it will be converted to something much more useful like stellar material. I can’t wait.

But I digress.

The point is finally we cannot afford to add to our useless heaps of flotsam and jetsam. Now we can put our time to good use and start shoveling out all the accumulated (vernacular cleaned up). Think of the feeling of freedom you will have without all that stuff! Man, I can breath easier already! Life is good!

January 7, 2009

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.

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