Mom doesn’t like plastic hangers.  She only has a couple of those puffy, padded sweater hangers and barely tolerates the old-fashioned, yarn wrapped hangers.  But plastic is definitely on her never-to-be-used list.  For some strange reason her personal preference is wire.  Maybe she’s a big Joan Crawford fan.

Her walk-in closet – or the tomb of old as I sometimes call it – is crammed with wire hangers.  I’m pretty sure that in the 28 years she’s lived here in Arizona she could not possibly have generated this much dry cleaning.  The climate warrants cotton over wool and her ex, John the Nazi, had the cleaner starch and fold his shirts, not hang them.  So I’m assuming that, when she moved here from Michigan in 1984, she brought dozens and dozens of extra wire hangers with her, along with a couple of really ugly lamps, several tins of decades-old spices, and a Cairn Terrier that liked to eat its own poop.  The dog died, the spices finally got thrown out, but the ugly lamps and wire hangers still remain.

She uses full wire for blouses and tops and wire with cardboard tube bases for slacks and pedal pushers (those are capris for the post 1980’s crowd).  I’ve tried to slip in a store-bought plastic hanger now and then, especially those nice fat ones for slacks because they don’t leave a crease half way down your pant leg where they were draped over the hanger.  But they always end up in a time-out area way in the back corner of the tomb, naked and alone.

I’ve been aware of her affection for wire hangers for years because of the ever-present shoulder pimples on her tops and blouses.  But I don’t think I really appreciated her devotion until the other day.  I’d finished folding the last load of laundry and was rooting through the tomb for a cardboard tube hanger on which to hang a pair of her slacks.  There didn’t appear to be any orphans mixed in with the clothes, so I looked in the time-out corner and grabbed the one closest to me, then spotted a split in the cardboard tubing, just off center.  I intended to retrieve an unbroken hanger and throw away the damaged one when I noticed something odd.  Mom had actually repaired the break in the tube by inserting a pen. 

My first thought was, how clever, Heloise would be proud.  Then common sense took over and I wondered why she felt the need to save a twenty-year-old, two-cent wire hanger, yet continues to spend hundreds of dollars a year on useless Publisher’s Clearinghouse junk.  This is a mystery that will never be solved.  Who knows, maybe that gross of pens she ordered from PCH last summer are actually hanger repair kits in disguise.

I’ve decided not to confront her by asking for some kind of an explanation, knowing full and well nothing she said would make sense and I’d just end up giving myself a migraine from banging my head against a wall in frustration.  Instead, I’m starting a new charity in Mom’s name.  I’m calling it Wire Over Plastic Hanger Emergency Rescue – W.O.P.H.E.R. for short.  Donations will be used by buy rum, which Bill and I will use for medicinal purposes only.  I promise.


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