When I examine Sly and Doris’ house, their annoyance at having to clean out the spare room starts to make more sense. My mom is a neatnik. She has stuff, but it is all very well organized and put away and labeled. It is a lot of stuff – she probably does not need her Simplicity patterns from 1978 and I am trying to convince her to donate that kind of thing so I won’t have to deal with it later, but she is not disorderly.
Sly and Doris appear to have a different approach. They have the “Let’s just pile everything on top of everything else and create a mishmash of junk” approach, an approach that many people, including yours truly, would consider a pre-hoarder approach.
Every surface in the living room and kitchen – except the ceiling – is covered with knickknacks or photos or papers or magazines or pigs. Pigs of every material: brass, ceramic, clay, glass. They like pigs, I guess.
There is also, just to add some variety, a glass octopus on the mantel of the fireplace. (Not sure why you need a fireplace in Florida, but there you go.) It is lit. From within. It is something to behold. Totally not making this up.
A piano is crammed in next to the breakfast table. Nature Conservancy magazines are stuffed between the wall and the piano and stacked on top of it.
There are two bookcases in the breakfast nook, one on either wall, leaving almost no room to pull the chairs from the breakfast table, not that I would need to pull out a chair because that table is place where people sit to eat.
Books and magazines overflow the bookcases. Spirit catchers and leaded glass thingies are stuck to the window. Greasy, dusty old delivery vases full of artificial flowers are on top of the cupboards. The counters are crammed full of appliances, pill bottles, spice jars, and snacks.
In the living room, three cats lounge on the back of the sofa. Two of the cats are sweet and affectionate; the third is hostile, drawing blood from me when I sit by her. There is one cat dish on the breakfast bar and another on the floor next to the kitchen counter.
Stacks of Mother Jones and National Geographic and crossword puzzles sit on the coffee table. An old plastic trash can sits next to the end table by the sofa. On the end table is a pile of mail and newspapers about five inches high.
Half of Primo’s office has piles of empty corrugated boxes, the tub in the spare bathroom is full of empty corrugated boxes, and there are stacks of old newspapers next to his sofa, but he can’t hold a candle to his parents.
Sly, is unshaven – he has those thick gray whiskers older men get and there is hair sprouting from his ears – and is wearing Birkenstocks without socks, shorts, and a stained t-shirt that said, “Vote Republican – it’s easier than thinking.” His toenails are thick and yellowed and jagged and his heels are cracked and blackened. I look away quickly before I catch old man foot cooties.
Doris is barefoot. Her feet are in the same condition as Sly’s. Should I judge her more harshly for having gnarly feet? It doesn’t seem fair, but at least women can get a pedicure.
Wait. Men can get a pedicure, too.
And no. Not fair to judge her more harshly than Sly just because she is a woman and we judge women on their looks. In fact, I am betraying the Sisterhood by even thinking that Doris should take better care of her feet than Sly should. Shame on me. Shame.
Her hair, thick, gray, and blunt cut at shoulder length, is pushed back from her face with a headband. She wears no makeup.
She wears baggy khaki capris and a long t-shirt decorated with butterflies. No bra.
She is tall and very slim. And very generously endowed.
I will leave it at that.
Although, again, I have to slap myself and remind myself that I should not collaborate with The Patriarchy in judging a woman with unbound breasts or on her looks in general. Women do not exist to provide eye candy for other people. I have heard – I would not know myself – that when one is busty, wearing a bra can be very uncomfortable.
OK! I don’t judge. I am not judging. Doris does not have to conform to the norms of the Patriarchy in her own house. She doesn’t.
 If you know what I mean.
 So that’s where Primo gets his Leaning Tower of Visa.
 “Because someday, I might move out of this apartment,” he says when I ask him why he needs to keep a bunch of boxes.