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get your hands off of my megazord, you damn dirty cleaning freaks!

There's this new show on TLC called Clean Sweep. Well, I don't know if it's really new, but I just came across this week. I usuall avoid TLC like the plague. I was under the impression that TLC stands for The Learning Channel and that's all well and good if the only things you want to learn are how to wreck your neighbor's dining room or how to surprise your husband by redecorating his office that he painstakingly took five years to give just the right aura of messy cool, but I was expect things like, you know, learning - Why do manatees look like that? How did those heads get on Easter Island, anyhow? Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

zord_02.gifAnyhow, during one of my obsessive runs of every single channel available to us on our digital cable - which amounts to about 200, at least fifty of which are either public access or broadcast in a language I don't understand - I happened to stop on TLC when Clean Sweep was on.

The premise of the show is this: Someone in your family writes to the crew and tells them that you are a pack rat or a terrible housekeeper or just a slob and the crew will come to your house and go through your years of collected crap on national television. They will throw most of the stuff out, or force you to have a garage sale where strangers will pay 25 cents for one of your most cherised possessions and they will - again, on national tv - show you how to be a better, more organized, less slovenly person.


The problem I see here is that one person's junk is another person's carefully chosen comic book collection. What the crew of Clean Sweep may see as useless black discs is another person's collection of 12", extended-play, dance versions of 80's new wave songs.

I imagine the crew entering my home. Immediately they seize upon the coat closet.

Does a family of four really need 72 jackets?
Yes. One never knows when one will need a tartan wool coat that is at least fifteen years old and still has a receipt from the 9:00 showing of "Back to the Future" in the pocket.

They would then move on to the junk drawers, where I have to convince them that I really do need all those old keychains and there's got to be a reason I'm saving coupons that expired in 1976 and hey, so that's where my emergency zip-loc bag of tampons went!

The bedroom closet would reveal magazines from 1976, children's artwork that looks no different than a Rorschach test, photos of people I can't identify and a giant box filled with cassette singles of some band no one ever heard of but were apparently supposed to be the Next Big Thing at the record label my husband used to work for and we're saving them just in case they do eventually become the Next Big Thing, just five years too late, and we'll make a fortune on eBay selling the cassettes. The Clean Sweep crew would laugh at me and throw the tapes onto the growing bonfire in the backyard that smells suspiciously of burning new wave records.

The kids rooms would reveal Darkwing Duck figures and Pokemon cards and all kinds of toys the kids would now be embarassed to own. A Barney videotape! A Shari, Lois and Bram cassette! Then the crew uncovers a treasure trove of Power Ranger toys. They ask, garage sale or garbage?

That's when I reach for my revolver. This is serious stuff they are messing with and I threateningly wave the gun around and start foaming at the mouth. The crew backs away, but I corner them over by the bookshelf that still boasts a Madeline box set and the December, 1991 issue of Parening Magazine.

Put the Power Ranger toys down. I say this through clenched teeth, emphasizing each word to let them know I really, really mean it.
But..but...they are just plastic! They're meaningless! Ten different generations of Power Rangers have come and gone since this set of toys!

My eyes narrow. My hand is steady as the gun is pointed directly at the crew leader's hand, which is holding a Megazord. I launch into an impromptu speech.

Apparently, none of you know anything about being a parent of a child who collects sets of toys. For, if you did, you would know that a good portion of these Power Ranger toys came from McDonald's and you would know that I spent at least one month of 1995 driving to every single McDonald's on Long Island trying to get every single piece of the collection for both of my kids. That's two of each figure! This was before the days they would let you buy the whole set at once. It was back when you had to buy a meal to get the toy! Do you know how many Happy Meals I purchased to get these sets? I sacrificed my cholesterol level just to make my children happy. And it wasn't just the Happy Meal toys, no. The Powermorpher Buckle and Power Siren weren't enough. They had to sell Zords each week as well. So there I was, broke as anyone could be, yet scraping together enough money each week to buy not one, but two of each Zord. I sold my blood and had sex with strangers for that White Ranger Falcon Ninjazord! If I had sperm I would have sold that as well. By the time the Pink Ranger Ninjazord came out I had to perform emergency surgery on myself so I could sell a kidney to some shady doctor so I could afford the damn toys. Don't you people understand? If you buy one, you have to buy them all! No collecter of toys in their right mind would buy just one of a series. You have to get the whole thing, even if it means calling in sick to work so you can be there the second McDonald's opens and get Alien Detector before all the other mothers come barging into the store demanding their detector. A full month of my life, I tell you! And if you think I am going to let you just come in here and throw these toys out as if they were just hunks of cheap plastic I will be forced to kill you right here and now and I don't care if your blood runs all over the pile of Teeny Beanie Babies Happy Meal animals you are sitting on because I am not an idiot! I learned my lesson with those Power Ranger toys. I traveled the entire U.S. of A. in the span of three weeks so I could get ten sets of all those Beanie Babies. Yes, even the rare Chocolate the Moose! And it didn't matter that just a month later the kids had no use for those adorable little animals. The point was, I got them. I got all of them!

At this point the crew realizes that the gun is nothing more than a piece of plastic I bought at a street fair, before toy guns were outlawed. They offer me a sedative but I decline and tell them I have an errand to run.

Burger King has Ninja Turtles toys this week.

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Comments

As is frequently the case, I'm amazed by your energy and passion for topics both great and small. I can't help wondering, though - are you sure you don't have some sort of experimental micro-nuclear power source in there???

I did that, too -- three years of calling every McDonald's in an hour driving radius, then rushing to the ones that had the Beanies we needed. On at least one day, I ate four Happy Meals in six hours. They might just be cheap little dust-collectors to me now, but I have the memories, the agony of the 4-burger, 4-fries stomach ache, the triumph at finally finding a Twigs the giraffe and convincing my parents to drive me almost an hour to get him.

As for those makeover shows, that's why I prefer Queer Eye -- Thom will throw a lot of your junk onto the lawn and get rid of it, but it actually all goes into storage, not the trash, just in case there's something hideous but important that you just have to keep.

LOL - I'm wiping the tears from my laughing spree. And how refreshing to find someone with the same view as I on that show. It makes me crazy - maybe because I live it.

I come from a family of extremely organized woman (the men don't count on this one). They regularly go thru everything and "par down". It is more than obvious that I am adopted. As I sit here in my office surrounding by my beloved memories I can only wonder where I can get my hands on one of those plastic guns........