The Bare Essentials
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
To hear an audio version of this column, click the play arrow below.
“All I want is two pairs of underwear and a pair of sneakers.”
With that odd proclamation, my husband weighed in, somewhat obliquely, I might add, as to whether or not we should purchase a small table and two new chairs for the back porch, something I was lobbying for to replace the broken down set currently residing there.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “What do underwear and sneakers have to do with porch furniture?”
“It’s my new general philosophy for life,” Dave said. “I’m all about paring down, getting rid of excess stuff. My goal is to get down to the bare essentials.”
“Really?  And the essentials would be underwear and sneakers?” I asked.
“Yep. Two pairs of underwear—one to wear and one to wash, and one pair of sneakers. I don’t need two pairs since you don’t wash sneakers,” he said.
“Were you planning on including things like pants in the ‘essentials’ list? Because I’m thinking you might have a problem going out in public in just underwear and sneakers,” I said.
“Listen, Fran, this is a philosophy, more of an existential blueprint, not necessarily a literal enumeration of items I wear during the day.”
“Well that’s good. I was worried that you’d have to be confined to the house from now on. But how does this new mantra relate to porch furniture?” I asked.
“It comes down to wanting to only live with what I need and get rid of all the extra stuff. And, if I have to buy something, it has to be because I need it. No non-essentials. Nothing extraneous,” Dave answered.
“Let me get this straight. Your essentials only philosophy means that you’re trying to get rid of the extra stuff in your life, right?” I asked.
“That’s right.”
“So I can pack up all of the soccer memorabilia in the family room?” I questioned. “The pictures, the plaques, that big autographed shirt you have hanging on the wall? I mean, you don’t really need those things, do you?”
Dave stared at me.
“And the 27 books next to your side of the bed—they can go, too?” I continued. “Along with the two foot pile of magazines you have stacked near your chair?”
No response.
“What about the countless boxes of paperwork piled in the basement, the attic and the garage? Can I start putting them out in the trash this week?” I continued. “And while we’re paring down, maybe you could donate your collection of soccer t-shirts. You have enough of them to outfit a small village.”
“Is there a problem?” I asked.
“Maybe I need to specifically define what I deem to be essentials,” Dave said. “It might actually include a few more items than two pairs of underwear and a pair of sneakers.”
“Might that list also include new porch furniture?” I questioned.
“It’s possible,” Dave said sheepishly.
“Well, if it does, I guess we can also include your soccer stuff and at least half of your stash of reading material. And I suppose you can keep the t-shirts, too,” I said.
Looks like living with just the bare essentials isn’t so bare after all.
What are your bare essentials? Click “comments” below, and share!