A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car Outside Every Garage

By Ernie Witham   |   February 14, 2019

There are some words a husband never wants to hear his wife say, like: “I’ve decided we should go vegan. Here is your lettuce-wrapped mushroom burger and beet fries.” Or: “Why is there a charge on this credit card from the Spearmint Rhino?” Or, worse, “I think it’s time to clean out the garage again.”


I have a theory about garages. They want to be full of stuff. Seriously. Have you ever seen a garage with nothing in it? It looks sad, right? Like the people living there don’t trust it with their things. Or they rent a cold, unfeeling storage unit somewhere. Or, gasp, they gave all their treasures away.

“Nice theory. You actually made me tear up a little.”

“Really? So, we don’t have to clean the garage?”

Pat blew her nose. “Nah. I’m better now. Let’s go. Bring your beet fries if you like.”

We have an “efficiency” garage. Very few folks in our complex actually put a car in their garage – unless they have a sunroof to climb out of. Pat knew it could be done, though. She is well above average intelligence – she married me, after all. But even with our Honda Civic compact, the passenger had to get out before the car went into the garage and the driver had to shed the majority of their clothing before trying to squeeze through the partially opened driver’s side door. The neighbors gathered around once to watch. “Nice underwear,” one of them remarked. “My grandson loves Sponge Bob SquarePants.”

“Thanks,” I said.

But happy garages fill up. And presently ours was very full. Matter of fact, there was not even enough room to park a Harley Davidson, which is okay because, sadly, I don’t own one.

“There you go! Once we have the garage cleaned out, and with the money we save from not buying meat, you can get that Harley you’ve always wanted.”

“Let’s see, if we save two bucks a week, I’ll only need 12,500 weeks.”

“Excellent, now we both have a goal.” Pat handed me a plastic bin that said “Ernie’s Stuff” on the side. I blew off the dust. “These are my client file discs.”

“You haven’t had any clients in years.”

“Yeah, but what if one calls and wants me to rerun a campaign?”

Pat pulled out a thing that looked like a flimsy CD. “This is a floppy disc. There is probably not a computer left in the world that will open this.”

“Floppies could come back. Bell bottoms have made several comebacks, you know?” 

“Good point.” Pat handed me a box containing half a dozen pair of bellbottoms. “Will your size 32 waist be making a comeback?” I opened the box. Thirty-seven very fat moths flew out. Begrudgingly, I tossed the bellbottoms, flower-power iron-ons and all into the trash. Pat raised her arms over her head as if she’d just scored a touchdown. Then: “What are those stacks of yellowing newspapers?”

“That’s every single issue of every newspaper my column has appeared in for the last 20 years.”

“Aren’t they also on your computer?”


“And on your back-up drive?”


“And your back-up back-up drive?”

“Yes, but some future genealogist, who decides to write a series of books about my extraordinary life, might need original copies.”

“Ah.” She hesitated. “I see your point.”

It was my turn to raise my arms high over my head and to do my patented success shuffle. Pat pointed at something else on that same shelf. “What the heck is that?”

“My portfolio from when I went to Brooks Institute of Photography in 1982.”

“Why is it wrapped with a bungee cord?”

“Zipper broke?”


“1983.” I cuddled it in my arms, then headed into the house as Pat grabbed a box with her name on it and started tossing things into the recycle bin. She had a maniacal grin. It scared me. She was still working when I returned. I handed her the portfolio. “Toss it,” I said.

“Yay! Wait, what’s that huge box?”

“I triple-copied everything that was in it. Oh, and your printer is out of ink. And paper. Still need my help?”

“No. I give up.” 

I felt bad. Really. But all around me, I could feel the garage smiling.


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