New Year’s resolutions and Fibber McGee’s closet

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Everyone has within themselves their own personal demons, which they must conquer before becoming whole and complete.—Unknown

Several months ago my spouse Penny and I were visiting with good friends, a long-married couple in a distant city.

They are our age, successful professionals with grown-up kids. Their home could easily appear in any of several wonderful magazines portraying southern living.

How could anything be amiss?

Penny and the hostess, Joan, excused themselves, leaving Herb and I at the dinner table to deal with the dishes. They were behind a closed door in the master bedroom for about half an hour.

Herb and I lay low. There are times men are wise to leave women to themselves.

A demon revealed

The next day, on the way back to Shallotte, Penny revealed her next “personal project.” She was going to help another friend clean out her wardrobe closet.

Joan’s closet is quite large and was crammed with many years accumulation of nice dresses, pantsuits, coats, blouses and assorted unmentionables, some not worn in more than a decade.

In the 45 years Miss Penny and I have been married, I have observed her tackle these kinds of projects with the ferocity of a starving wolf in a meat house. It requires someone like Penny—confident, a little bossy and self-assured.

The “client” confidentially approaches her with of a sense of desperation. Joan’s closet was so full things were hard to find. And worse, little could be added.

The demon had her right where he wanted her. She felt overwhelmed and powerless to deal further with it.

The clients are in over their heads and drowning in their own stuff. They are confident Penny can help. They are not disappointed.

The actual process takes about two hours. Penny holds the item up—thumbs up or thumbs down—and then puts it into a garbage bag, recycle box or back onto the rack. There is no looking back. The client’s confidence increases and the tempo picks up entering a celebratory mood, ending in a sense of relief.

Resolution accomplished!

Fibber McGee’s closet

Fibber McGee and Molly ran on old-time radio show between 1935 and 1959. The vaudevillian husband and wife, Jim and Marian Jordan, presented a situation comedy that was listened to regularly by my mom and dad.

I can still hear their laughter as Fibber’s hall closet door was opened and the noise of its contents crashed out onto the floor.

The closet sequence usually ended with Fibber saying, “I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days.”

The audience related to Fibber’s closet. Everyone has one or more in the form of a drawer in the kitchen, the garage or attic, the car glove box or desk drawer.

Further, we have unresolved issues that are secreted away in our souls that make the junk in McGee’s closet pale by comparison. Confession and forgiveness are good for the soul.

Eventually, all physical closets will be cleaned out, either by our own effort or those of our loved ones after we pass on.

My mother died after several years in a rest home. She kind of withered away after near-death episodes. The hospital resuscitated her twice.

One day, the administrator called me into her office. She shoved a form across the desk that was Mom’s and my prearranged agreement to make no further efforts. I signed what amounted to her death warrant.

One morning two weeks later she died in her sleep.

What she had left was in the nightstand and closet by the bed. I put her little Bible in my pocket and scooped the rest into a garbage bag. That was it.

As the eldest of five kids, I was an honored to carry out her wishes.

New Year resolutions

Resolutions are popular projects engaged by many people who desire to make important lifestyle changes. Smoking cessation, weight loss and exercise programs are some of them.

Resolutions are hard to keep on track and succeed. This past year, I quit caffeine for health reasons. It is surprising how many things have the stuff in them these days. My wife and friends have given me a lot of support in the effort. That is the key to being able to keep a resolution.

Recommendation for success

Start small. Relish the opportunity.

I highly recommend tackling a Fibber McGee’s closet. It is simple and can be done in just two or three hours. Invite your significant other to help out and celebrate the accomplishment with a meal out afterward, with a toast to conquering your personal demon.

John Heidtke has been employed by municipal, county, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies since 1963.