We all have family secrets.  The kind that only our very closest friends and family know.  Oh, I don’t mean the skeleton-in-the closet kind that, often, are best kept hidden.  I mean the kind we have that, when discovered, cause us to grin a sheepish grin or maybe squirm and giggle nervously.  You know, like the fact that you sometimes drink out of the milk carton or maybe occasionally don’t change your sheets for a couple of months or that you keep a secret stash of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the sock drawer, while telling everyone you’re on a diet.  Harmless stuff, pretty much, though I really don’t think you should drink out of that milk carton.

Okay, I know you’re probably reading eagerly now, thinking I’m going to tell you one of our secrets.  And you’re right, though the photograph above probably already gave me away.  But, in case it didn’t, here goes:  We have upwards of eighteen books hidden amidst the dustballs under our couch.  

Yes, I know, horrible…but true.  It all started years ago in the first of our many tiny homes.  Now there’s nothing wrong with tiny homes, but they can be a problem when you have approximately seven million books.  Okay, not really.  It just seems that way when we move.  And it’s the reason our friends and family make themselves scarce  every time we announce that we’re moving.  They remember past moves when, in their naivete, they volunteered to help.  Along about the five-hundredth one-hundred pound box of books, they all said the same thing:  “Y’all have too many books!”

Now, we all know that it’s just not possible to have “too many books.”  I mean, to me, that’s like saying, “You have too much money” (not that anyone’s ever said THAT to us) or “You have too many sunny days” or “You have too much chocolate.”  Really, it’s more the fact that we have too little house and too few shelves. 

But I digress.  What actually happened is that years ago when I’d be curled up on the couch reading and would run across a word that I didn’t know, I’d want to look it up in the dictionary.  But the dictionary would be in another room because we didn’t have a lot of space to spare in the living room.  So, lazy person that I am, I was loath to interrupt my book to get up and get the dictionary.  After all, I could usually figure out the word from its context.  But the trouble is, I’d then have to guess at how to pronounce it.  And I’d often guess wrong.  Like the word “despot.”  I knew what it meant, but I never looked it up.  So, over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I said it “des-SPOT”, with the emphasis on the second syllable.  And until a couple of years ago, no one corrected me.  So I cringe to think of all the people who probably snickered into their sleeves and thought me ignorant.  Which, of course, I was.  But I didn’t want them thinking that.

Anyway, that’s when I realized that our couch had both plenty of room underneath AND a charming little skirt that could hide not only dustballs the size of Chihuahuas, but a lot of books, including our large collection of dictionaries and thesauri.  So we’ve never had to get up to get the dictionary again. 

Just remember, if you come to my house and want to look something up, do be careful when you stick your hand under there.  Those dustballs can be a little scary.  Not to mention the monstrous spiders.  Or the lizards that we’ve found living in our couch through the years.   But whatever you do, don’t go in our closets

After all, there might be skeletons there.

31 Responses to “Secrets”

  1. Margie Miller Says:

    Oh my goodness! How horrifying!! Dustballs! I understand about the books…but dustballs!!

  2. Martha Stewart Says:

    I share Margie’s horror and revulsion, although I would admit to a certain lurid fascination at the idea of dustballs the size of Chihuahuas.

  3. eemilla Says:

    Great idea; although my couch doesn’t have any space underneath. My trick is to use a blank piece of paper for my bookmark, and when I find one of those words, I write it down to look it up later.

  4. Clara Melvin Says:

    You won’t believe what I have under my couch! An iron skillet! It is huge. I know it would hold four whole chickens for frying. There’s not room for it in my cabinet with my other pots and skillets….so I hide it under the couch……and I’m sure there are a few dust balls under there also.

  5. Nancy Says:

    Sheesh! I’m embarassed. I thought those things rolling out from under my couch were tumbleweeds. You got ’em small as chihuahuas? I’d best get to work! Beth, you couch sounds so cozy! There’s nothing like a couple of kids snuggled up beside you as you read their beloved first stories to them! How could you throw out such a memory maker? I know Benjamin will love having it continue on the tradition in his first “home.”

  6. June Says:

    If it works for you, why the heck not do it! Houses are for living in, no?

  7. luckypennies Says:

    Haha, I think Clara might have you beat with her skillet! But seriously, I can’t believe you’re just letting all of our sensitive family issues out into the open. I mean, you can’t just go telling everyone and her dog about the dictionary thing!

    By the way, wanting to know a word is not laziness. Laziness is letting your mom look them up when YOU find them in a book. Of course, I don’t know anyone who would do that. *ahem*

  8. Pat Says:

    We also have seven million books.

  9. Rachael Ray Says:

    I found you through Martha’s website. And not only am I like totally scared of your giant dustballs, but I can’t believe anyone would eat Reese’s Cups and claim to be on a diet. Reese’s Cups are like so disgustingly fattening! In my new book, “How to Lose 10 Pounds a Day with Rachael Ray,” I show you how to survive on nothing but pita chips and berries and feel great doing it!

  10. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Margie: Yes, I know. Absolutely horrifying. Visitors frequently scream in terror upon encountering our dustballs! 🙂

    Martha: You can come over to the doublewide and see my dustballs anytime.

    Eemilla: I like your idea a lot.

    Clara: I love that you store your skillet under your couch! Don’t tell anybody, but I store things in my oven because there’s no room left in my cabinets. It’s kind of a pain, though, to have to take them out every time I want to use my oven. But I don’t store dictionaries there!

    Nancy: My dustballs are bigger than your dustballs! 🙂

    June: Amen to that! Our house is very, very lived in. 🙂

    Luckypennies: Well, I’m sorry to air the dirty laundry, but I just felt the need to confess. I feel so much better now. And, well…it’s not like I told them about all that stuff you’ve crammed under your bed!

    Pat: My sympathies. 🙂

    Rachael: You should be afraid of my dustballs…very afraid. And, by the way, I don’t have Reese’s Cups in my sock drawer—just York Peppermint Patties. And, furthermore, I don’t drink from the milk carton. And, furthermore, I’ve never eaten a pita chip in my life and don’t intend to start now.

  11. Jeff Says:

    Hilarious!! Dustballs the size of chihauhuas! What a fervid fertile imagination you have! I used to have lots of books, but one day I realized that the ones that I hadn’t read I likely never would read and those I had read would likely not get read again, so I gave them to the library. I made a mistake with a few of them (shouldn’t have given them away) but for the most part, I don’t miss them. But I still have lots of books, but not seven million! You are so funny, Beth!

  12. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Jeff: Thank you! You know, I have quite a few books I haven’t read, too, but I figure if I live to be about 120, I’ll get them all read. 🙂 By the way, I really like the phrase “fervid fertile imagination.” That is a wonderful compliment!

  13. colleen Says:

    At least your books are out of sight. You should see my stash by the side of the living room chair. From time to time I put them all away and within a week the pile starts building again! I still don’t know how to pronounce despot.

  14. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Colleen: Well, I guess it’s time I made another confession: I also have an impressive tower of books beside my recliner, not to mention the ones stacked on my bedside table. But, you know, I think of my books as my friends…and it’s always good to have your friends beside you. Right?

  15. Concerned Librarian Says:

    Well, blueridgebluecollargirl, if books are your friends, why are you stuffing your friends underneath your couch? I’d hate to see how you treat your enemies!

  16. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Concerned Librarian: Your point is well-taken. But, really, I think my dictionaries and thesauri like it under there where it’s quiet and calm—where they can do their work undercover, as it were. They prefer having some space to themselves, not having to be crammed into a shelf with all the other more common books. Dictionaries and thesauri think of themselves as sort the literati of the book world and DERIVE a PRONOUNCED pleasure in living lives of MEANING and WELL-DEFINED purpose.

  17. CountryDew Says:

    I have seven million books, too, and have given a similiar number to my local library.

    But I don’t keep them under the couch because my couch couldn’t keep them.

  18. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Country Dew: Well, I only keep eighteen or so books under the couch. The other 6,999,982 fill up just about every nook and cranny in my house. I’m very fortunate that my husband’s a carpenter and builds lovely shelves. 🙂

  19. Rebecca Barry Says:

    I found one of my children under my couch the other day. He was hiding there with a bag of chocolate I’d hidden on the shelf with our dishes because I’m on a diet. (I’m not trying to mock you–that’s actually true. But if we ever did have too much chocolate, we don’t anymore.)

    I think keeping a dictionary under the couch sounds very sensible–especially since you read on your couch and know exactly where the dictionary is. And if you’re going to have dust bunnies, it’s good that they’re under the couch, too and not sitting in plain view on your staircase as some of mine are. (I find that if you don’t wear your glasses around the house, they’re much less noticeable.)

  20. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Rebecca: Well, at least he wasn’t drinking out of the milk carton! But, seriously, how is it that children can always manage to find our secret candy stashes? Or can always hear it when you try to surreptitiously unwrap a piece of chocolate and come running before you can pop it into your mouth?

  21. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Just go in the bathroom and run the water and they can’t hear you unwrap the candy.

    That sounds really nice and cozy, books under the couch. I’d like to get a recliner though. Then I’ll be all set and I might never get up.

    When I move, I tie all the stacks of books with baling twine. Still, I’ve given too many away over the years and now and then I’ll think of one and it’s gone!

    But I won’t give away Rebecca Barry’s book “Later, at the Bar.” I loved it! Have you read it Beth?


  22. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Debi: That’s a great idea, but I’m not sure it would work with my children. They seem to be able to hear the telltale crackle of candy being unwrapped over the loudest noise. Honestly, if I had someone jackhammering in my kitchen while I was unwrapping candy, my kids would still somehow hear it. It’s uncanny.

    I haven’t read Rebecca’s book yet, but I certainly intend to as soon as possible. I really love her writing.

  23. Going Crunchy Says:

    One of my favorite quotes:

    “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” Anna Quindlen

    Um, well, two of my bookshelves just fell of the wall from the weight of the books in the kids playroom so I may have to build more in casa de Mama.

    Just call your couch the Book Nook, and I happen to think that is marvelous idea of keeping your goodies there. What fun.

  24. Judy Says:

    Hi Beth! I’m back!! I agree you can’t have too many books and I have them everywhere. I can’t get anything under the couch because it sits flat on the floor but I have stuff tucked under the beds and anywhere else I can find a place to stick something. I keep a flashlight under the bed and do put books there, too. It is so nice to be able to visit with you again after 11 days without internet. Thanks so much for your kind comments and concern during the ice storm. Things are finally back to normal here for the most part. I feel like I have been in jail and not allowed any visitors! lol. I have a lot of catching up to do.

  25. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Going Crunchy(aka Shannon): I love that quote. I hope my children feel that way—I do! Though I don’t think we’ve ever had quite enough bookshelves. I do think that by now, my children probably think it’s normal to keep books under your couch. 🙂

  26. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Judy: I’m so glad to see you back! I’ve really missed your wonderful comments. I’ve been keeping you and all the folks in Kentucky in my thoughts and prayers. I am so happy that things are finally getting back to normal for you—we’ve missed your warm presence and your wise voice in the Blogosphere! Welcome back!

  27. Benjamin Says:

    Tom and I have some dust gorillas hanging around under our beds in the dorm (and under the sink, too!). And, I do eat more than one spoonful of peanut butter sometimes, *without* changing spoons. Sorry, I know it’s horrifying.

    By the way, my sound card is busted on the computer I was using for Skype, so I won’t be able to call you on Skype for a while! You could call me Sunday evening around 8:00 (I’ll be around, I promise!).

  28. Ariel Says:

    Wow, Benjamin, way to be personal. 😛 You know you can still send email on a computer with a busted sound card, right?

  29. Brenda Says:

    “Now, we all know that it’s just not possible to have “too many books.” ” Amen and Amen–couldnt agree more

  30. blueridgebluecollargirl Says:

    Brenda: I’m always glad to meet a fellow book-lover! Thanks for commenting.

  31. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    Beth, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you know Rebecca Barry from her comments on my blog or did you know her first? Because I’m getting the feeling you knew her first. And if that’s the case, we have something in common other than being in the same blog neighborhood, so to speak. You mentioned on my blog that you love her other stuff. I haven’t read anything yet except for her book “Later, at the Bar,” but I tell you, I’m in love with her–what a writer. Her characters are so regular and yet something special.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: