Well, THERE’S your problem…

Posted: December 22, 2011 in aging, humor

Like writer Jonathan Ames in the NYT today, I have a problem with kipple. No, not kippers. Kipple, which seems to have consumed his only fork:

So, what is kipple, and why did it cause me to lose my fork? I learned about kipple from the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Here is an exchange between a man named J. R. Isidore and a character named Pris Stratton.

This building, except for my apartment, is completely kipple-ized.

“Kipple-ized?” She did not comprehend.

Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers. … When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. …

The entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.

(Be sure to click on the article, because his bedside table looks EXACTLY like my beside table, only mine has drawers. And more books, if that’s possible.)

I thought I was the only one who believed that stuff kipple multiplied, even metastasized when you weren’t looking. I have long suspected my shoes of having  closet orgies to which I am not invited, causing them to reproduce wildly. (“I don’t remember buying these boots. They don’t even FIT.”) And don’t get me started about paper. I’m drowning in it. The pile of printed coupons, year-old birthday cards and insurance itemizations will soon bridge that three-inch gap between my bedside table and bed and smother me in my sleep.

I’m fully aware of the depth of my problem. I’m a sucker for a good book review, and Amazon One-Click is going to be the end of me, THE END OF ME, YOU HEAR? I’m like a junkie pressing the IV button for that next hit of morphine. (READ ALL THE BOOKS!) How can I possible throw away that birthday greeting from my son in Ohio? And it’s as certain as death that the minute I toss out that notice of payment approval from my insurance company for my latest medical mishap that said company will disavow they ever sent it. (But the coupon printouts likely have all expired, so I can probably let go of those. Maybe.)

Don’t worry. You can still visit me at home. The living room is neat, vacuumed and dust-free, and the kitchen (other than the recipe book shelf in the corner) is sparkling. You can use my bathroom without flinching. But I will probably not take you on a tour of the rest of the house, which is where The Spouse and I actually live. (His office is a hard-hat zone, shelves bowing with books and every inch of counter space covered with papers, theater programs and more books. The piles keep rising, like they have yeast in them or something. ) My office currently contains an unused desk and chair, a pillow-strewn IKEA futon, two overtaxed bookshelves, a recumbent bicycle exerciser, more piles of books and four large plastic containers of sweaters, scarves and belts. (Proof of insurance is required for entrance, thank you very much.)

If this sounds like an apology, it isn’t. We’ve lived in this house for nearly 25 years, and we have more than 120 years of living between us. We have baggage. Stuff. Even Kipple. We bought it, collected it, had it FedExed to us. It has meaning. That straw purse with the broken strap  in the corner of my office now filled with dusty green eucalyptus stems was purchased on a trip to Oahu’s North Shore eight years ago. When I look at it, I remember the open-air shop, the Old Hawaii feel of the little town, the taste of fresh pineapple, and the roughness of the black rocks on my bare feet at nearby Shark’s Cove. It evokes something in me. But it’s kipple, broken and unusable, and I’ll throw it out someday. Just not right now, okay?

I’d like to think we’ll get rid of most of the debris field as the years pass. But then I remember going through Mother’s house when she moved on to the retirement community (and eventually the nursing home where she died). Drawers of sewing notions that dated back to when I was a child. Dozens of yellow plastic bags that her newspapers came in. Stacks of cottage cheese cartons, most of them without lids, that she used instead of Tupperware. Canned goods and spices ten years past their use-by dates. Piles of rusted bobby pins. A box of broken jewelry. And drawers full of Christmas/Easter/Mother’s Day/birthday cards as well as photos and drawings from her children and grandchildren. Did it all mean something to her? Apparently. But most of it meant nothing to me. I was confident in my knowledge that my kipple was so much better than her kipple. As my last gift to her, I separated all the potentially sentimental items and put them in boxes for my brothers and literally threw away or gave away everything else.

Which is probably what my children will do when they have to go through my stuff. I mean, my kipple.

  1. notquiteold says:

    I like “my kipple was so much better than her kipple.” i think it was George Carlin who said, “their stuff is shit, but my shit is stuff.”

  2. I think making ones children clean out the kipple is a GREAT way to get revenge for those teenage years. By the way, I gave you a blog award. You can see the details on my latest post. (No pressure to participate if it’s not your kind of thing. But if it is, have fun with it!)

  3. […] components, hardware and software for computers we had long since abandoned. You know, the usual kipple. (My constant refrain: “What the frack was I/he keeping this […]

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