'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
YOUR ‘STUFF’ REVEALS WHO YOU ARE
Recently I heard a guy on the radio describe a visit to an estate auction. While sifting through the items for sale, the guy noted that the deceased person must have really loved birds, as there were dozens of bird feeders, bird houses, and books on bird watching. Then the guy posed a question to the radio listeners, “If you died suddenly, what would people learn about you by sorting through your stuff?”
Oh, by the way, did I mention this was a religious radio broadcast? The National Council of Religious Broadcasters has a rule that states at least once every five minutes a question must be asked, which begins with, “If you died suddenly…” No wait, my mistake. That rule is from the National Council of Life Insurance Salesmen. With religious broadcasters the question must be asked every TWO minutes.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mocking religious broadcasting. I listen quite often, especially when I’ve had my fill of hysterical talk radio programming. It’s a nice change of pace to listen to shows that worship Someone worshipable, rather than programs where one side worships Big Business as infallible and sinless, and the other side worships our president as someone who can walk on water.
Anyway, the religious broadcaster’s point was that your stuff reveals who you really are. His focus was on hypocrisy, for example: will your loved ones be surprised after you’re gone when they find your Bible still in its original wrapper, but a well-worn stash of Hustler magazines hidden in the bottom drawer of your desk?
It might have been a rebroadcast of an old show, since nobody keeps a secret stash of dirty magazines anymore, at least not since Al Gore invented the Internet. I wouldn’t know for sure, of course, but that’s what I’ve been told.
I got to thinking what my cherished “stuff” reveals about me. If I died suddenly, my loved ones would discover that I like baseball hats, action movie DVDs with lots of explosions and gunfire (such as “Mary Poppins”), inexpensive watches, and books about my two favorite religions: Christianity and baseball. Also, they would discover that I am addicted to pens. Well, I don’t know if it’s an actual addiction, it’s just that I have this thing about being able to write down notes whenever an important thought pops into my head. So I always have a pile of pens on my desk, in my car, on top of my dresser, on the bedside table, in my golf bag, and in the bathroom next to the toilet (a very good place to think in solitude and take notes, actually). None of these things would be a revelation to my loved ones. They already know I own way too many of these items.
Another thing my stuff reveals about me is that I’m really messy. Plus I hate to throw anything away. My wife forces me twice a year to tidy up my office at home and fill up at least two 30-gallon trash bags. I’m certain if she didn’t make me do this I’d end up being one of those guys you hear about on the news who is found by police suffocated to death in his home when a pile of newspapers, magazines, and other junk fell on him.
Just to make sure there are no hypocritical surprises lurking in my stuff, I sifted through most of my belongings. When I looked in the bottom drawer of my desk, I found a secret stash of, guess what, more pens. But at least there were no dirty magazines.
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