My good friend Bidwell is reducing his possessions and his weight. In common parlance, Bidwell is downsizing. As he is moving from a large two-storey house to a small bungalow, he sees no other viable option.
When we last met, I found him brooding over several boxes of books he intended to give away.
“It’s like parting with old friends,” he said, reaching for an empty box.
“You’re lucky to have containers like that to pack them in,” I said.
“I get them from the liquor store.”
“They give them away?”
“They do,” he said, “when I buy their products in sufficient quantities. I order my wine by the case.”
“You buy wine for the boxes?”
“They’re ideal for packing books.”
“What about the wine,” I asked.
“It has to be imbibed,” he said.
I noticed a stack of newspapers and flyers in a corner of his living room.
“I thought you were going to cancel your subscription when you got the news online.”
“I meant to,” he said, “but newsprint is ideal for wrapping and packing breakables.”
“What about the papers cluttering up the house?”
“They have to be read,” he replied.
Something worm-like clung to his clothing and furniture.
“It’s what’s left of my accumulated invoices, financial statements and the like,” he said, when I drew the debris to his attention. “I bought a shredder so I could dispose of them without risking identity theft.”
“That’s new, too,” I said, pointing to a sewing machine.
“Second hand,” he said. “We wouldn’t give away our surplus clothing without mending it.”
I had never before seen a domestic metal crusher. When he found me staring at it, he said that it enables him to start recycling juice, beer, soup, vegetable, fruit and other tins at home.
“It decreases their volume by 40 per cent,” he said. “I’m considering adding a glass crusher.”
“No doubt to decrease the volume of the bottles that come with your boxes.”
“That and more,” he said, obviously pleased with his commitment to reducing and re-cycling. “We’re also changing our security system.”
“I don’t see the connection,” I said.
“We put down Sergeant – he was old and infirm and could barely bark, let alone bite – and will put up an electronic system when we move. That’s one less mouth to feed, one less patient to medicate, one less dependent to buy gifts for. You’d be surprised at the size of a dog’s carbon paw print.”
“So your basic motive in downsizing is to help the environment.”
“The neighbourhood we’re moving into is relatively safe,” he replied. “We don’t need a security system to discourage thieves from stealing. We need it to discourage other downsizers from dumping.”
“Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Although you’ve replaced a bulky security system with a lean one, you’ve bought enough red to begin a wine cellar, enough newspapers and flyers to feed a major fire, a shredder, a sewing machine, and a metal crusher. What’s more, you’re likely to buy a glass crusher and any number of other devices to help you downsize.”
“I’m a believer,” he said. “I support my convictions with my cash.”
“Very admirable,” I replied, “But at the rate you’re going, your new home may be too small to hold what you’re buying to downsize the possessions in your old one.
“Not if we downsize ourselves,” he said. “My wife and I are committed to losing weight and taking up less space. We’re also considering imposing load limits on visitors and posting ‘No Fattening’ signs.”
“Isn’t that a bit drastic?”
“No more drastic than banning cigarettes and posting ‘No Smoking’ signs,” he said. “We have to make room for the treadmill, stationary bicycle and other training devices we’ll need to keep trim
“If I understand you correctly,” I said, “you intend taking up space with exercise equipment to help you avoid taking it up with yourselves?”
“Can’t you see the logic in it?” he asked.
“I can see the logic, Bidwell,” I replied. “But if you’re downsizing, I can’t see the sense.”