Who doesn’t love a good silly list? In the comments below, please add to our serious and not-so-serious list of things and habits we should all probably have shed by now.
1. The “meh” shrug.
The “meh” shrug has emerged as a Donald Trump trademark. Please, before the “meh” shrug becomes as ubiquitous as cell phones in restaurants, can we please rid ourselves of this smug expression? We are reminded of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, who somewhat prophetically once asked, “How come we choose from just two people for President, and 50 for Miss America?” Now, did you just do a “meh” shrug when you read that?
2. The generational claim to the best. music. ever.
Yes, boomers owned Woodstock. They also can claim the British Invasion. But we can debate til the cows come home whether the music shaped the generation or was merely the background score to their coming of age. The fact that many boomers bemoaned how they had no idea what to listen to during the 1980s suggests that they weren’t trying very hard. The reality is that every generation has shunned the music of those that came later. It’s time for boomers to stop with the claim of “nothing compares with The Grateful Dead” and asking their grandkids, “How can you listen to that stuff?” Truth is, weren’t The Animals a passing thing?
3. Buying furniture from Ikea.
Everyone appreciates how the Swedish put-it-together-yourself-if-you-dare furniture maker outfitted our first apartments. But like most first loves, we reach a point where it’s time to move on. As a matter of fact, most marriages would improve if there was a law that said all furniture must come preassembled.
The one exception to our Ikea-is-for-kids rule is their meatballs. Actually they have some neat decorating stuff too. But nothing that needs assembling.
4. Hanging on to unframed prints.
If you haven’t done it by now, that poster you picked up at the museum gift shop in Amsterdam in 2004 isn’t really ever likely to see a frame or the light of day. Why clutter your closets with things like this when by now you should have learned that buying a postcard (that fits in your purse) of your favorite painting makes more sense.
5. Keeping incomplete sets of cutlery.
“No, no, I need the forks with the round handles, not with the wavy lines on them!” Who among us hasn’t screamed those precise words at a child who is helping set the table while the dinner guests are ringing the doorbell? The simplest solution is to get rid of all the partial sets of cutlery and just get one complete set. While it is inevitable that the occasional spoon must be sacrificed to the Great Garbage Disposal God, when your utensil set reaches a critical mass of missing pieces, it’s time to toss and repeat.
4. Displaying your CD collections.
With rare exception, your CD collection probably shouldn’t be the focal point of your living room when you are 50. That said, we feel differently about your old vinyl collection, although do you really want visitors rifling through your albums and leaving smudge marks with their dirty paws?
5. Hanging on to your kid’s first school backpack.
At some point, you must accept that your 25-year-old will grimace when he sees that adorable photo of his first day of kindergarten where he’s wrapped himself around your knees begging you not to leave. Take it to the bank: He certainly won’t ever use the backpack he’s pictured wearing. And no, your grandchildren likely won’t either.
6. Stashing stuff under your bed.
Declutter the person and you declutter the mind. Under-the-bed storage is really just clutter. It largely consists of things that at one point you developed a sentimental and maybe even irrational attachment to. It’s stuff that you never use (or it wouldn’t be under the bed, would it?). Seriously, you never know what you’re going to find there. And giving your cat an additional hiding place will endear you to her, in her own way of course.
7. Accumulating piles of unopened mail.
First of all, why aren’t you opening your mail? Sure, most everything of importance is now handled online, but occasionally — stuck in between all the paper advertisements and unsolicited credit card offers — is something that is actually important. Collect your mail from the mailbox every day (overflowing mailboxes also tip off the bad guys that you may not be home) and spend 30 seconds dispensing with it.
8. Thinking shot glasses, snow globes and refrigerator magnets from your travels make you a collector.
There are many other ways to commemorate your travels besides identical Starbuck’s mugs that have different cities’ names on them. We prefer photos of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or posing by a Venetian gondola to shot glasses that were all manufactured in the same factory in China, no matter where you bought them. If you are going to buy souvenirs, why not at least have them be representative of the place you are visiting. Vermont maple syrup, Murano glass, French wine — all make more sense to us than a snow globe with the Hollywood sign in it. It doesn’t even ever snow there.
9. Covering your windows with anything other than drapes or blinds.
While you may have a soft spot for those Indian blankets we used to keep the sunlight from waking us up before noon in college, it’s a decorating style that will draw unwanted assumptions — and maybe even the attentions of Homeland Security — should you try it later in life.
10. Showing signs you could be a hoarder.
Can we just say this up front? We think porcelain dolls are a little creepy. They look creepy and the idea that they are dolls but you can’t play with them is also creepy. Not judging, mind you. The broader point is that most collections are just dust collectors. They clutter our shelves and our lives. They take up space. Do you really need them? Would the money you spend collecting those dolls could be put to a much better use, saying, buying a real doll for a real kid who doesn’t have one.