Monday, January 16, 2012

THE "WHY" CAME LATE


I'm thinking I am not alone here. There is an item of apparel that I can't seem to get enough of. I know a lot women love shoes and a full closet doesn't lessen the urge for more. For some it is handbags while for men it might be baseball hats, cool tee shirts or sports jerseys.  

For me it has always been coats. I am a coat whore. I wonder if there is a 12 step program for this. Even when I lived in Florida for 40 years, I owned a ridiculous amount of coats. I mean really, seldom is it cold enough in Florida to wear a coat more than a few hours. A closet full of coats in Florida reeks of a disorder.

I have a friend with a similar obsession. We once decided that we had a coat for every degree of cold from cool summer evening to brutal winter.

Do I ever wear each of them at least for a little while during the year? Nope, I usually go for the favorites and the rest take up a ridiculous amount of space. It takes three wardrobes in my shed to house the extras. They aren't even in sight but I know they are there and that is enough.

So I recently declared war on my obsession and went through the excess and weeded out a bunch to give to a church organization. I am now down to just a few. I feel positively naked and actually found myself cruising the web yesterday looking at coats.   Just looking, I told my self---- yeah right.

How did I get this way?? Actually there is an almost valid reason and I only  discovered it after about 50 years of practicing my addiction  once becoming a wage earner.

While I was thinking of topics to write about the other day, I thought along the line of, “We were so poor that----”.  It brought to mind  an experience when I was about nine.

Our family had periods of being from about average financially to being darn poor. One year in particular, I remember that my back to school shopping was done at the Salvation Army Store. Being the baby, I grew up with hand me downs, but a stranger's hand me downs just kind of hurt. I was embarrassed.

I remember looking for a winter coat with my Mom among the racks of used clothes. I fell in love with a bright red wool coat with a fake leopard fur collar and cuffs.


 Found this picture on the Internet under vintage coats. Sure looks familiar.

The coat was flamboyant but to me it  looked almost new and expensive. Mother tried to talk me out of it but it was no use. I was thrilled with my flashy coat and couldn't wait for cold weather.

The first cold day, I put on my really red coat and strut my stuff boldly as I entered the school. My puffed up pride however was short lived.

Betty, who was my least favorite person in school, spied me and ran up to me. She felt my coat, lifted the collar then let out a loud yelp.

“You are wearing my coat.” She said loud enough to be heard clear out to the play ground. "I never liked it so we gave it to the poor. How did you get it?”

How do you spell ANNIHILATED?? I finally understood "struck dumb".


Needless to say I never wore that coat again. I told my Mom what had happened and she took me back to the Salvation Army where we traded the red disaster for a more generic looking coat like she wanted me to have in the first place. Still even with the generic looking one, I spent each day fearing some one was going to recognize it and out me.

As I thought of that occasion the other day, the light bulb went off. My obsession with coats most likely comes from that singular experience. I am still trying to prove to a long gone Betty that I really can  afford a nice coat. Perhaps knowing the root cause, I won't be in a hurry to fill my closets back up with a zillion coats. Now if I can just stay away from the Internet. Obsessions don't die over night.

Do you have an obsession about owning something and have you ever thought about or even cared about “why?”

50 comments :

  1. I just received a note from Betty -- and she said, "I believe you, already. Jeez." So now addiction cured.

    A year ago we went to Goodwill to get some stuffed animals for the dogs to tear up. They are really cheap there. While perusing the animals I spied a comfortable, nifty looking jacket. The price was $8, so I got it. After a quick run at the cleaners, I wear it now. It is my favorite. Is this reverse addiction?

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  2. WOW! what a powerful story on so many levels...good self analyzing! coats are also a metaphor for a cover up so what are you trying to hide from others? ...just a thought~
    My husband also has a coat fettish and I laugh at him...closets full of coats and he still wants more. I personally don't think I have an obsession...scrapbooking materials? I will give it some thought and get back to you! okay, actually wonder if I have an obsession with colored pens...you can never have enough of them! so what does that say about me?

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  3. Now that is very interesting--really makes sense. Those early piercing arrows leave their mark, don't they.
    I don't have an obsession...which is NOT to say I am without my neuroses.

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  4. I used to have a jeans fetish, I could never have enough pairs of them. But now they sit in my closet, unworn, but I cannot give them up. I only kept a dozen pair or so when we moved, but they still take up room and are never ever worn. Hmmm. Maybe it's time. My current favorites are cargo pants, and I only have six pair or so. I also love coats, and I'll bet your addiction does come from that long ago experience. :-)

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  5. Living in a RV leaves no room for collection addictions although I do have a variety of lightweight jackets that could stand to be culled.

    However your Salvation Army story almost matches one of my mother's although hers involved a pair of saddle shoes and the fact that her family was so poor they didn't shop at the Salvation Army but rather were given clothes by that organization due to their poverty. A classmate recognized her donated pair of shoes and teased my mother unmercifully about them but it was wear them or go shoeless.

    Regardless, I never pass a Salvation Army bell ringer without making a donation and now my "castoffs" go there in memory of my mother.

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  6. I hardly every wear used OR HOME MADE clothes because even as the eldest child I had hand-me-down from cousins.

    My parents were childless for 10 years and decided to adopt: I was #1. My father was manager in the depression of a small lumber yard with stingy salary, but nice Christmas bonuses for awhile.

    I also wore a lot of homemade feed bag dresses, as did my sister. Feedbags came in colorful prints for some reason. Desperate mothers made aprons, dish towels, everything that was simple from these colorful dresses. I despise anything muslin to this day as this is what the feedbag cloth felt like.

    When the cousin whose clothes I received as hand-me-downs died of a ruptured appendix at a very early age, I finally go a few new clothes and my unfortunate sister got my hand me downs.

    Mother was not an expert seamstress as one of the great aunts that raised her. But she was able to do a lot of hand crafts like crochet, embroidery, piece quilt patterns but disliked quilting.

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  7. Well, see? I knew I hadn't heard everything... lol

    A coat addiction for someone who lived 40 years in Florida....

    My only addiction is food with emphasis on pie. The good thing about that addiction is it doesn't take up much closet or floor space.

    We all know what the bad thing is... sigh

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  8. A very interesting post. Shoes used to be my obsession, I I think because as a child my feet were too big for children's shoes so I had to wear women's shoes. I hated that. I no longer have that obsession thank goodness.

    I suppose mine would be mock turtle neck tee shirts. Can't ever have enough.

    I hate wearing and buying coats. I also don't like the amount of room they eat in a closet. I'm a fleece vest gal.

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  9. Hmmm. I don't have any obsessions. Maybe, way back in the cave age, I did have an obsession with sex. But, now? Nope!

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  10. So very interesting Patti....I think your addiction was already in play when you chose that very fancy Red Coat with The Fur Collar...That was such a bold and WONDERFUL Choice...!
    I have many addictions---most of them stem from the fear of "running out of", (Though where that came from, I am not precisly sure....) But this "fear" spills over into everything from Toilet Paper to Colored Pencils for my Art Work....I just decided at some point, that's who I am and I made friends with it...I don't have closets full of all these things, BUT, I certainly 'stay ahead', when possible.....
    I do think that growing up in a home of 7 people, my mother tried to be sure not to 'run out' of certain staples---I think that is where a lot of my "addictions" come from, to this day....!

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  11. Hi Patti, I used to collect socks --in all colors... I wore slacks most of the time and little flats with colored socks (when I worked)... I truly had enough different colors of socks that I could match most everything that I wore....

    Now though --instead of socks, we collect t-shirts.. We have t-shirts from most every place we have been --so the closets are FULL of these t-shirts.... Need to quit buying them, or get rid of some ---or buy a new home with a bigger closet... ha ha
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  12. A powerful story that I understand so well having been the subject of childhood bullying because I was a head taller than everyone else. For clothes, I love my jeans, but I'm not obsessed. The only belongings I feel a bit obsessed with are books. There are two kinds of stores I love to visit: Book stores and thrift stores. And I usually only buy books in the thrift stores. I am in love with the smell of a book store. What can I say. Obsessed, I guess.

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  13. This is a very interesting post sweet Patti. There are no clothes items that I have a lot of but shirts. This is not because of an obsession but rather that some are too small, some too large and some just right. I hang on to them just in case. Dolls is another story...why I love dolls I don't know but I had to force myself to stop buying dolls. I also grew up poor, wore donated clothes and had very few toys so now that you have put me to thinking I believe my doll obsession may have stemmed from not having many toys. Hugs

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  14. Powerful memory...Thank you for sharing. My admiration for Arkansas Patti increases everytime I come to visit.

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  15. Oh what a great self analysis story. It's funny but in order to save money when my daughter was little I gave her a clothing allowance. That way she would learn to be wise with her wants and wishes in the future (or so I thought). I worked at an upscale second hand clothing store as my second job after teaching, and so she learned early on....more nice clothes for less money. Problem is....it developed into a mania for her, like a quest. So now on days off, she takes me hunting for the perfect "something" at the junk or thrift stores. Can we all say backfire????? Lessons learned yes but that has become an addiction. Sigh..... Oma Linda

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  16. I never had much of an obsession with clothes. I do have a red coat I bought several years ago when I thought I needed a somewhat dressier coat than the one I had. So I bought this pretty red wool coat that was popular at the time, almost full length. Guess what? It still hangs in the back of the closet, never worn. Guess I didn't need it as bad as I thought. I tend to wear favorites until they wear out. That is, when I wear coats. I do throw a coat in the back seat of the car, but hate to wear them.

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  17. I have to admit to a love of boots, but only have one pair at the moment. Well I love turtle necks as well, and have a lot of them. My closet is small and I've moved a lot so I take my old stuff to the Goodwill...

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  18. Oh honey, even though I am not a lover of winter or a snowbunny I am a sweater junkie. I have drawers filled with sweaters, the storage compartment under my bed...sweaters. Funny huh???

    Loved readin' your wonderful story sweetie.

    God bless ya and have a fantastic day!!!

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  19. For me it is plush towels. The more expensive, the better. Like you, I was raised poor and we never had nice towels, always thin and holey. I live in a retirement home at age 55, due to MS, and the avg age here is 85. I am here to say 80 is the new 65. They are much more youthful than I!!

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  20. I had an obsession with shoes, especially the Italian kind like Faragamo. Now says I wear Birkenstocks. They dont hurt my feet.
    Men only like baseball hats because family members give them those hats. David has one that says 'California State Police' my son gave him. He nver wears it unless Richard is in town.

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  21. I have no clothes addictions ...I stick to basics ...although I do find it hard to resist a bargain T-shirt ..as for shoes ...a pair of trainers, a pair of durable boots and a smart dressy pair of boots and thats it really ...my problem is throwing clothes away.If they are casual bits they stay until they are dead or too small ...smart only go if they will never fit again and are obviously ancient... and as for coats ... about the same as shoes ...a smart one, a rainproof one and a warm everyday casual not forgetting my trusty Denim jacket.My present one is about 8 years old and has plenty of life left.
    My adiction is craft supplies ...of all kinds ....I have enough papers to allow me to create for about 10 years ...and I still buy more ...far less than I did at the begining ...some I cant bare to use ...I just like looking at them ...how sad is that ...and I really have no idea why...except I feel I have to buy when I have money spare ... incase I one day dont again. xx

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  22. The cruelties of some aspects of childhood in school never cease to amaze.

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  23. What a great, interesting story. My addiction would be books. I was a shy kid and if someone to talk to on the bus or lunch was not to be had, I opened a book. My mom took me to secondhand stores to acquire them at a young age as they can be expensive. I still get them that way or through yard sales but a few years ago took a ton to the Salvation Army. My collection was getting ridiculous.

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  24. Jerry,
    Ha ha, I sometimes when I relate these stories I wonder if the main character will read and recognise themselves.
    I am not above thrift shops now days. It is now smart shopping.

    Tracy,
    Ha, maybe I am trying to hide the fact that I didn't always have nice clothes. Of course it could be I am hiding a less than perfect body. Coats are good at that.

    Olga,
    You are right. The early arrows really have sharp points and hurt worse. When we get older, they pretty much bounce off.

    Djan,
    Good to know I am not alone. Now days I take last years jeans and make gardening shorts out of them for the summer. That probably horrifies you that I abuse perfectly good jeans:))

    RV Vagabonds,
    I feel you mother's pain. I agree about the Salvation Army. One organization that I feel uses my donations wisely.

    Nitwit,
    I'll bet you were so excited to get new clothes. I know they always gave me a lift. Bet those feed bag dresses were scratchy to wear.

    Carolyn,
    Yes coats in Florida is like ice cream in Alaska. Somehow you make it work.

    Linda,
    You are so right about the space they take up. I had to walk into my closet sideways. Now I can square up. I do like the mock tees also and have a goodly amount.

    gigihawaii
    With sex you say?? That sounds like a post you need to do.

    OOLOH
    I am glad you brought that up Naomi for I do have that same thing. The minute I open a supply of anything, I immediately buy the replacement. I agree and also have a phobia about "running out of something."

    Betsy,
    I know about your tee shirts. I love how you and George always have on matching ones. Must make it easy to spot each other in a crowd.

    Inger,
    Oh my, I'll bet the Kindle and electronic books are breaking your heart. Hopefully books won't go completely away in our life time.

    Mumsy,
    Not having a lot of toys as a child could well explain your love of dolls. I rememeber seeing a bumper sticker on a car that read "Pray for me, my wife collects dolls." Kidding aside, enjoy them.

    Grayquill,
    Wow, thanks so much GQ. Hope I don't let you down other than my being a Democrat:))

    Linda in NM
    Well it is definitely the lesser of the two evils. Besides there really are great bargins in those thrift shops.

    Cheryl,
    Must be something about those red coats that catches our fancy. Might be time to find a new home for that one.

    Brighid,
    Ouch, I suffer from small closet syndrome also. It forces you to go easy on obsessions. Moving is also the best thing for thinning out stuff. Maybe I need to move.

    Nezzy,
    I could go that way if I let myself. Sweaters are really neat.
    Don't quit till you run out of room.

    schmidleysscribblins
    I do know a couple of guys who are baseball hat collectors. They even built special display cases for them. I'm sure Richard is just thrilled when he sees David wearing it. Bet there will be more hats coming in the future.

    Angie
    For a while there, I thought you were addiction free. Glad you have joined the club with your craft paper. Welcome to the land of the obsessive.

    troutbirder,
    I can forgive a kid for being thoughtless. They just haven't learned social skills yet. That doesn't make the one they hurt feel any better though.

    Islandwonder,
    I share your love of books. Kindle has allowed me to bundle 200 books into a 5x7 bundle that sits on my night stand. Now if I could just compress coats that small----
    How nice to have given so many to the Salvation Army so others could enjoy them.

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  25. Diane J Standiford,
    Welcome to TNS. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
    I have a dear friend with MS and know it can be a battle.

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  26. I had my own "Betty" who told everyone in class that my dress was made from a feedsack. I thought everyone already knew that and I didn't know it was something to be ashamed of.

    When my own children went off to college and bought their own clothing they shopped more often at Goodwill or The Salvation Army Store than at the Gap.

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  27. You are always timely. I just closed the storage door where I spent the day sorting things to go to the thrift store or in the trash. Hanging on to things we don't use is a delusion that we may again "some day" need that item. It's a tough one to break.

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  28. I wonder where Betty is now and if she has any friends? Probably not - too full of herself to have a heart to share. Anyway, I can't think of one thing that I feel an obsessive need to own. I wonder if that's even normal? Now you have me worried, Patti!

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  29. I've never been much into clothes. But I do like hoodies. Where I live, coats aren't necessary on too many days, but a fleece hoodie does the trick. Lightweight, midweight, heavyweight. Love them all. I don't have a lot, but I wear them all the time.

    Books used to be an obsessions, but I've gotten rid of many of them.

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  30. One should never moderate comments when sleepy. I accidently deleted 5 comments that I will copy an paste, then answer. Sorry folks.

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  31. Dr. Kathy McCoy has left a new comment on your post "THE "WHY" CAME LATE":

    Fascinating post, Patti! My mother also had a coat fetish. She was especially enamored of coat/dress co-ordinated ensembles. She used to send me all manner of coordinated outfits when I was in college but, of course, the ensembles that worked so well in Los Angeles were of little use in Chicago in the winter, though I did appreciate her thoughts and her taste. I think the origins of her obsession were similar to yours: going to high school during the Great Depression, she got teased for having only one outfit. So she made sure her daughters had plenty of nice clothes -- and way too many coats -- to wear.

    Dr. Kathy McCoy,
    At least she turned her obsession to her kids. You must have had an interesting closet in college.

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  32. NCmountainwoman has left a new comment on your post "THE "WHY" CAME LATE":

    I had my own "Betty" who told everyone in class that my dress was made from a feedsack. I thought everyone already knew that and I didn't know it was something to be ashamed of.

    When my own children went off to college and bought their own clothing they shopped more often at Goodwill or The Salvation Army Store than at the Gap.

    North Carolina Mountain Woman,
    You and NItwit had similar experiences with feed sack dresses. It is odd how we don't realize we are different till it is pointed out.

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  33. Manzanita has left a new comment on your post "THE "WHY" CAME LATE":

    You are always timely. I just closed the storage door where I spent the day sorting things to go to the thrift store or in the trash. Hanging on to things we don't use is a delusion that we may again "some day" need that item. It's a tough one to break.

    Patti's answer,
    I also live with that "some day" thought about a lot of things. So glad you have taken the plunge too. I'm sure I have other things that can go besides coats.

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  34. Barb has left a new comment on your post "THE "WHY" CAME LATE":

    I wonder where Betty is now and if she has any friends? Probably not - too full of herself to have a heart to share. Anyway, I can't think of one thing that I feel an obsessive need to own. I wonder if that's even normal? Now you have me worried, Patti!


    Patti's answer
    Ha ha, I don't think you have to worry about that. You aren't missing anything.
    Hobefully Betty learned some social graces as she aged.

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  35. Linda Myers has left a new comment on your post "THE "WHY" CAME LATE":

    I've never been much into clothes. But I do like hoodies. Where I live, coats aren't necessary on too many days, but a fleece hoodie does the trick. Lightweight, midweight, heavyweight. Love them all. I don't have a lot, but I wear them all the time.

    Books used to be an obsessions, but I've gotten rid of many of them.


    Patti's answer,
    Too bad I didn't get hooked on hoodies when in Florida. It would have made more sense.
    I still collect books but they fit nicely in a tiny bundle called a Kindle.

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  36. Ha ha I loved your story. That must have been so embarrassing as a kid!

    I buy second hand clothes occasionally from ebay. I just make sure the seller lives miles and miles away from me! :D

    Oh hip hop fitted and snapback caps are my obsession. I could buy everyone of them in shops like Lids.

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  37. Back again, you got me to thinking about why I have this shoe obsession. I had to wear corrective shoes when I was a kid. Think there is a connection?
    Dianne

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  38. I have a mild coat addiction, and love it when it is cold enough to wear my big coat. It is lovely soft and has a velvet hood. I do love it and this winter has been a warm one, so far.

    My real addiction and it is starting to worry me some is really nice sheets. Kohls is my enabler when the put the Vera Wang 800 thread count sheet on sale and I have a coupon from them...oh no it is too much. I'm overwhelmed with the desire for one more set. I'm still ironing sheets from Christmas when all the kids were here.

    Your story is heartbreaking in its honesty. Kids can be very cruel. School wasn't all that much fun for me, either. I was too tall to be one of the cute girls and too poor to be one of the best dressed ones. When I was in high school some of the popular girls teased me with an offer to be in their "sorority". They had no intention of letting me in and I'm sure they had a good laugh at me. Those clubs have been banned now.

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  39. Gary keeps telling me about this program on TV called hoarding, whereby folks have filled their homes with stuff they don't really need and cant get rid of try as they may. I have a hard time getting rid of a lot of things because I've always had to work hard for what I do have and now even more. I am more of the type though that finds something that fits and wear it till it falls off of me I have a jacket like that which is over 25 years old with paint on it and yet it is still my favorite one to wear in cold weather, it fits me like a glove. I have always had a hard time finding clothes that fit me properly so I hoard the ones that do even when they have holes in them, many times I can pass as a bag lady with my clothes but the comfort of them somehow takes precedence over impressing folks.

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  40. Very interesting to find out the cause of an addiction, especially when it is told so well as you did!

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  41. I think every coat I had as a child was red. Back then, department store winter coats came with wool leggings to match. Mine never got much wear because girls weren't allowed to wear pants to school. Not that I wanted to them anyway--they had suspenders and elastic on the feet--but when forced to, I confess that they WERE warm.

    My only clothing obsession is pajamas, which I would wear all the time if I could. Oh, I do love those elastic waists!

    Your coat story reminds me of one of my own that I'll have to tell sometime. Yours is touching; mine is whacko. Had to laugh, though, picturing you with a coat wardrobe in Florida.

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  42. Oh, Patti, that makes me sad for you when you were 9, especially since you loved that coat so much.

    I don't really have an obsession for them, but we have tons of sweatshirts around here. And, I don't really want to get rid of any of them, lol.

    In the 1990's, I was a church secretary. When our church closed, I began doing daycare out of our home and the church gave me tons of stuff (most of it vintage) from the preschool SS room. This included many Fisher Price sets with the people and everything. Also, I saved all of my kids toys over the years. When I left my ex, he immediately took most of my toys to the dump or Goodwill or where ever. That was such a loss. I still collect toys, vintage and otherwise and have them in my "Mom Cave", even though we seldom have little kids around here. I know that loss (ties to my church family) keeps me getting cool toys when I come across them. I have had a rough time forgiving him for that particular deed. Jerk! Lol.

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  43. LLCool Joe,
    Thanks Joey. I was thinking of you when I mentioned men and hats. You are the poster child for collecting hats.

    schmidleysscribblins
    By Jove Dianne, I think you've got it.

    Amber Star,
    I so agree with the need for really good sheets. Someday I want to get 1500 thread count like Oprah.

    Linda Starr,
    Not sure I would call that hoarding, just frugal.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil. You are too kind.

    marylee,
    Those elastic waist band are so addictive. Once I gave in to them, I could kiss my waist line good bye. Be looking for your story.
    Your husbands cow story reminded me of my next post.

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  44. There is no article of clothing that I obsess over having, but as you may remember, I collect (or used to) a lot of things. No more, though.

    I do recall that when I went to college, I had 27 pairs of shoes - so maybe that was my obsession/fetish.

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  45. Judy,
    You really did clean up your act after that garage sale.
    27 just may qualify you but that was a while ago.

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  46. No clothing obsessions that I know of- sometimes I learn about these things through my grandchildren who are excellent observers- like the eldest who keeps me updated on when I need to color my grays), but I can totally relate to your experience with the coat. Children are so very mean, and it is amazing how some of those "zingers" still affect me to this day.

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  47. Hi Patti, I am a first time visitor here, and found this post so interesting as I could relate on so many levels. I too have many coats, too many, because I seem to save them and most are not even new, but years old. Also too many socks, shoes, and jeans. As NJ natives we had use for colder weath wear, but less so here on tha VA eastern shore, however a move to New England will require colder weath wear again, hence I already have the wardrobe...just too much of it! We are in the midst of decluttering and dealing with too much accumulated STUFF.

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  48. Beatrice P. Boyd,
    Thank you so much for stopping by TNS and welcome.
    I have found that moving is the quickest way to thin out the herd. Good luck.

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  49. I'm just reading this, and boy do I relate. I have the same addiction. I love jackets and coats, and I have way too many of them. My daughter Julie had the same obsession, and boy did she have some beautiful, stylish coats that she wore so well.

    I have no idea where my addiction came from. Perhaps, living in Colorado, I just naturally needed a coat for really cold days, one for windy days, one for mild winter days, one for warmish spring days, one for summer evenings, one for work, one for hiking, one for dress, one for church. Clearly you can see why I need so many coats. Can't you? Please say you can.

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  50. Retired English Teacher,
    I can so relate. It was so hard to part with them but I rarely wore half of them and wow, do I have room now. And, yes I miss them.
    As long as you have room, indulge.

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