Turns out, NOT throwing these away may have just saved my marriage

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life51 Comments


With all this time I've spent cleaning in the past week, I've come across some items that let's just say I was fairly certain were destined for the trash heap. No questions asked.

Let's be honest: when you are cleaning, sentimentality needs to take a back seat. Most of us should admit the following: we have too much stuff. For those of you who don't, I want to rub up against your leg and purr. But many of you, I'm guessing, live in domiciles that are stuffed to the gills with, well… stuff. And much of that stuff you just don't need.

I like to attack areas in my home with a straightforward conquer and destroy mindset. If it hasn't been worn in a few years, gone! If it's falling apart and in danger of causing bodily harm, gone! If it doesn't fit, gone! If it's ugly, gone! If we will never use it in a million years, gone! If it will make people wonder whether or not we were on drugs when we bought it, gone!

Gone can be one of two places: the Goodwill, or the Good Garbage Out in My Alley. Take your pick. Doesn't really matter to me.

So as I'm cleaning out the front entry closet last week, I came across this old pair of Dan's shoes, circa I have absolutely NO idea from what era they came. I don't even know if I've ever seen them on his feet. What I do know is that they've been in that closet for 14 years. They just keep getting shuffled back into the mix somehow, while every other shoe has managed to either be tossed or given away.

Why? Because they say "Rockport." That's my guess. Good brand of shoe, don'tcha know? Nevermind the fact that one would have to have their foot surgically flattened to fit comfortably in the right shoe. Nevermind that they could be used as props in a theater piece called, "The Hobo's Not-So Magical Shoes." Nevermind that they haven't been worn in 14 BLOODY YEARS.

So here's what happened: I had a giant bag of trash going, and I grabbed these relics, tossed 'em in, and even said aloud, "If he still wants these, I'm going to have to move out." I've made the mistake, to Dan's credit, of "recycling" things that he wasn't ready to part with. I've made amends for those transgressions over the years. But these? I mean really. COME on. They're outta here.

Then I shared the story with some friends via email, LOL-ing about the old shoes, explaining how I was probably going to get in trouble for tossing them, but "wasn't it a KILLER shot of shoes taken with my new camera?" I just needed a group of my peers to give me a little bit of consensus and say, "Of COURSE you would throw those away." Duh!

Just as I hit "send" on that email, it happened. The long, cold shadow of What-the-Hell-Are-You-Thinking-Woman? crept over me, causing the sudden urge to run downstairs, pull the shoes OUT of the bag, and put them back, just where I had found them. What had been a bold and confident move just minutes earlier, had turned into a "what if this is one of those bad "recycling" decisions and he's gonna be pissed" sorts of feelings.

So I did it. I dug through to the bottom of the bag, pulled them out, and placed them back into the closet, the only sad pair of misshapen hobo boots in a sea of mismatched vacuum attachments and scarves.

When Dan got home from work I told him the entire story of throwing away the shoes, bragging about it to friends, losing all my confidence, and then digging them back out.

His reply?

"Well, good."

Dear God, it is a good thing he's so damned cute.


Cathy ZielskeTurns out, NOT throwing these away may have just saved my marriage

51 Comments on “Turns out, NOT throwing these away may have just saved my marriage”

  1. #1
    kristin kanner

    Ahhhh, yes. I, 12 years later, am still regretting have thrown out a coir rug. A coir rug, you say. Why yes. He bought it for $5 and it was painfully ugly as well as rough on the feet. I still hear about it, the way one would long for a lost love. I no longer go in his closet when I got in trouble for throwing out a shirt I bought for him roughly a decade ago and he had never ever worn…didn’t even take the tags off. Oh my, apparently they’re all alike:)

  2. #2
    Michelle Giaimo

    14 years! Are you sure they are his? How long have you lived in the house, maybe they were a prior tenant’s!

  3. #3

    Cathy, Cathy, Cathy – haven’t you learned yet? You have to treat him just like the kids! “Honey, if you want to save these shoes, try them on to make sure they still fit” (said ever so sweetly while handing the shoes to your stocking-footed man). When he can’t get his not-so-flat but oh-so-cute feet into them, then you can safely toss them!

  4. #6

    Loved the picture of the shoes….Tara’s movie of Em and family is awesome….You guys need to do that. It would be spectacular!

  5. #7

    LOL! I have done that with some of my husband’s shirts from college, you are so right about the shadow, it come in and you just have to dig back through that plastic bag of victory… all the while I am telling myself that it’s not a defeat it’s a treaty.

  6. #9

    I think we can all relate – being related (by marriage) to a man who’s motto is “not used in 1 year – it’s gone, baby” EXCEPT for his one pair of tennis shoes. And yes, I can call them tennis shoes, these were made long before the “athletic” moniker was used. They are being held together with duct tape, various pieces of cord, etc. He “claims” they’re his garden shoes. Garden shoes? He hasn’t stepped into a garden in eons. But, I’ll give him his one pair of hold-out shoes, just long as he stays away from my purse collection that hasn’t left their back of the closet spot in eons.

  7. #10
    Heather H.

    You didn’t tell us why the shoes were so important! Why didn’t he want you to throw them out? My husband is still mourning the loss of a 2 foot stack of the Stribs Taste Section. There may have been recipes he wanted! But not bad enough to go through the pile and cut them out!

  8. #11

    This entry was reading like a work of Shakespeare and the “It’s All Too Much” guy all in one. We need more! I’d like to see you make it a regular series–with audience participation and junk. Great story, Cathy. I gotta say, Jobless is looking pretty good on you so far….

  9. #13

    i learned long ago, i can throw as much of my crap out and my kids’ but when it comes to hubby’s its hands off – it just isn’t worth the heartache.

    on the plus side, you are right – it is a great shot of the shoes. πŸ™‚

  10. #14

    You are quite the writer and story-teller! Thanks for the great laugh at this not-even 7AM time of the day! ~TanyaS

  11. #15

    Oh Cathy, c’mon! You need to get tough! And yes – why exactly did he want to keep them? It’s a burning question for sure and I WILL be awaiting on an answer.

  12. #17
    Sideline Mom

    Ok, so even though I read your blog on a regular basis and laugh a lot, I rarely comment because… well I’m a freaky non-commenter that way. Anyway, today I laughed way more than a lot. That post was so good and funny that gosh darn it I had to comment and say thanks. Thanks for the laughs, I really needed them.

  13. #18
    Lynette S.

    Love the picture. I agree with you on the shoes. Looks like a no-brainer. I would want to know why he can’t throw them out. BUT saving a marriage as good as yours sounds is definitely worth it.

  14. #21

    Of all the things I’d like to have surgically flattened, my feet are definitely NOT on the list. Fantastic story, my friend. You’re even inspiring me to dejunk my own house! Okay, you’re not. But it’s fun watching YOU do it.

  15. #22

    I just marvel at the difference between them boys and us girls. We would NEVER reply to our man confessing this to us with a mere two words! We would need commas, dots, dashes and lots of exclamation points to say, “Well, good.”

    P.S. We have a similar pair of softball cleats in our coat closet. The hubs has not played softball since my 16-yr. old was born. Cathy, we bond!

  16. #23

    I can’t stand clutter! I took a week off from work this week, to organize, clean, paint, and declutter! (Great vaca, huh?) That’s a great story about the shoes! Next time, just pretend to have thrown them out, put them in a garbage bag in the attic, wait 5 years and if one word was ever mentioned about those shoes, just hand them over, otherwise…TRASH! Good luck!

  17. #24

    You can come and clean the junk out of my house when you are done. Maybe a new line of work for you, when you are done cleaning up my junk, you could critique my scrapbooking!

  18. #25
    Jan Connair

    Yeah, I’ve learned the hard way to ask, “hey darlin’ can we agree it’s time to let go of these?” instead of just pitching stuff behind his back.

    My parents never pitched anything that could be deemed useable or “still good” in the smallest way. Consequently, my 89-year-old mom’s garage attic contains shelves, boxes, and bins of old broken tools and appliances, because my dad (who died in 1995) used to use stuff like that to fix other broken stuff like that.

    The clincher for me was that they had saved about a hundred empty shoeboxes and grocery sacks, also in the attic. Saved them for the day they’d have a garage sale and people might want a bag or box to carry their treasures away in. Aaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh!

  19. #27

    I have to admit that’s the most stunning photo, of the ugliest pair of shoes to grace the planet.

    What on earth could have happened in those shoes, to make someone want to hold on to them?! The only reason I could see keeping a pair of shoes like this is if Prince kissed them live on stage. πŸ˜‰

  20. #32
    Wendy Holifield

    “Nevermind that they could be used as props in a theater piece called, “The Hobo’s Not-So Magical Shoes.” ”

    Props and a title….your son could write this next play!!

    p.s. Glad you kept the shoes and certainly GLAD this was not yesterday with the whole eye Dr. fiasco! These might have been used for “Woman goes crazy and chokes eye dr with hobo’s shoes.” LOL!!

  21. #33

    When I was first married (over 30 years ago) I threw away antique men’s aftershave/cologne that was in dusty boxes in the back of the cupboard under the sink. I have never heard the end of it. Now I don’t touch my husbands things. But when we remodeled, I insisted on separate closets. That way he can keep whatever he wants in his closet and I can keep my closet as neat and tidy as I want:)

  22. #34

    LOL!! I thought he was going to say something along the lines of, ‘they were my grandfathers.’ or some such sentimental remark. You could have tossed him and played dumb with him none the wiser. If he’d been thinking on his toes, he would have had some senitmental remark about those shoes because they’re destined for the dump next round of cleaning. LOL

  23. #35
    Karen Kelly

    We are getting ready to put our house on the market and I’ve gone through EVERYTHING we own and have donated 13 bags of clothing to a non-profit’s garage sale, 2 bags given to friends, made a couple of trips to Goodwill and still can’t believe all of the STUFF we have to give away not to mention all the crap we’re keeping. Oddly enough, going through my husband’s clothes was so much fun because he did it with me and was kind of appalled himself at the fact that he had sweaters from college still hanging in his closet…just the label ‘Structure’ put us into fits of laughter everytime we came across it! WTH? So, here’s to decluttering and cleaning out the junk πŸ™‚

  24. #36

    It really was so nice of you to get those out of the bag. I wish my husband had some sentiment. He throws away all kinds of stuff of mine (clothes I even STILL wear, pillows I still love to sleep on, etc), and i do quickly forgive him. LOL.

    And I’m working on purging a bunch of my stuff this month too. I’ve already boxed up FOUR boxes of clothes and TWO boxes of shoes. And that’s only me! LOL.

  25. #37

    Cathy – that was very well written. I am laughing here at work and trying to keep it suppressed, but it’s not working. I’m glad you dug them out! Dan NEEDS those shoes!


  26. #38

    It definitely sounds like husbands are made out of the same mold. I have discovered a safety net for things like that. I will take the item of my hubby’s that I want to toss and hide it for about 3 months. If he doesn’t ask if I’ve seen it in 3 months, it’s gone. If he does, then I know exactly where to find it. It’s saved me on a couple of occasions. Good luck with purging more stuff…very freeing, at least for me πŸ™‚

  27. #39

    Oh those shoes make a great picture. Thankfully my husband doesn’t notice much when one of his much loved “old” items disappears but we have a few of those hanging around here as well. One is a jacket that he refuses to let go of despite the oil stains and rips.

  28. #40

    Reminds me of the George Carlin quote: “Home is the place where we keep our stuff while we are out getting more stuff.”

    Sounds like a LO to me…LOL

  29. #41

    I don’t think I’d even put them in the category of “lawn mowing shoes”…ha. That’s a great story!

    p.s. Sorry I didn’t wish you a happy birthday on Sunday–so I’m wishing you HAPPY BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!

  30. #42
    Kara C

    What is it with men and their really old “stuff?!” My husband has a ski jacket he simply will not get rid of. Never mind that we live in Tennessee and barely see enough snow to sled in let alone ski in! Cathy, thank you for your humor and sharing a piece of your day with us. It helps me to smile and get on with my day. (Next time though, let the shoes go!)

  31. #44
    ana roat

    My husband is now sure that there is a worldwide conspiracy among wives to throw out perfectly good items just when their “getting good”. My husband almost cried when I threw a shirt away that had just “gotten good”. He said it was nice and cool–heck the single ply tissue at Wally World had more substance than that old shirt!!! ha,ha,ha…!!!

    Welcome to the conspiracy Cathy!

  32. #45
    ana roat

    Kat in Texas–you are just too funny….lawn mowing shoes….ha,ha,ha…lol…ha,ha,ha….!

    I really needed to laugh after one ugly day!
    Thanks again ladies!

  33. #46
    tina winkle

    Honestly-I am just at the point where I keep it all because I end up buying it back off of ebay or something a few years later. It is just cheaper this way. Today I added buy umbrella stroller on my to do list. Uh, I just sold ours 4 months ago at our garage sale for 50 cents! I know someday TLC will be bringing a camera crew to my house. Embrace the clutter!

  34. #47

    OMG… I hear you! Gary and I agreed to ALWAYS ask before we toss out anything that doesn’t personally belong to each of us. It has saved many a big fight over the past 11 years. Amen!

  35. #48
    Amanda Ellaboudy

    OMG, I’m choking on my cereal right now!!! That’s just like my dad AND my husband, the latter who pushed aside my son’s clothes in his own little closet to make room for all the shirts and pants that didn’t FIT in his closet anymore to avoid throwing them out (my directive was either he weeded out his side of the closet or I would…that was his solution)!

  36. #50
    Laura Lee

    Too Funny Cathy! πŸ™‚ I love how you saved your marriage with the world’s ugliest pair of shoes! πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the laugh…on a darker note…dun dun dah…
    I’m jobless with you dear…I was told Tuesday that I won’t have position at my school next year. I then promptly wrecked my car today…hummmmm…staying home sounds really good right now! πŸ™‚ I’m fine, but my pride is hurt a little bit. So, now it is off to go play in my many acres of scrapbook stuff and have fun! Maybe I’ll send you a do over page…I have some pretty “what was I thinking” pages from 2002 and 2003.

  37. #51

    you had me laughing so hard i was crying. i love your story telling. i must admit, my daughter has a pair of those kind of shoes. i’ve tossed them and she’s dug them out at least a dozen times. drives me crazy. and she’s damned cute too. *wink*

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