OPINION: Fifty Shades of Lenny

It was the summer of 1989 and I was standing in my aunt’s kitchen, watching her boil a big brown lobster. I swore I heard him scream as she put a lid on it. Later (much later) I would discover it was just the sound of the air escaping from his lungs (or some scientific side bit) as he lost his battle to the great metal pot. It would be another decade before I touched lobster to my lips again and another two decades before I stood in my own kitchen, remembering the sound that lobster made.

I was in hot water and like that poor lobster, for the life of me, I saw no conceivable way out of the pot. Our hermit crab, Lenny Bruce, was missing. We had looked everywhere … under the coffee table (the little blue one I’d nicknamed Marlena); inside the Barbie Doll Bin (Lenny was a gentleman and definitely preferred blondes); we even checked the shelf with the board games (was there anyone ever who really needed three copies of Monopoly?).

He was nowhere, MIA, took one of those little matchbox cars up to the Canadian border and never looked back (likely with my wedding band in tow), and we were none the wiser. We searched for days, put posters up around the neighborhood but seriously, hermit crabs, such an elusive breed, like the great Waldos of the crustacean community. Really, they should come with ankle monitors. You can’t hold a good crab down these days.

I don’t miss Lenny but I do miss that house (like a criminal misses prison, my friends; like a lobster misses its pot). But it was in the looking for Lenny that led me to learn something larger about my life: there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Hi, I’m Lesley and I have a shopping disorder. That house, I have to tell you, was the grand hermitage of hoarders, an ode to my overconsumption, an homage to many an “add to cart moment”; and the fact alone that somehow we thought it perfectly acceptable to free-range a hermit crab amidst all that flotsam and jetsam, well, we’ve come a long way, baby.

We acquire stuff. The Kirschners, you could say we’re acquirers, and not in the monetary sense but hey, a girl can dream, right? It’s like that Eric Carle book, the one about the little hermit crab who just keeps collecting, adding more stuff to his shell but then the shell gets so heavy with crap that he can’t carry it anymore so he looks around for somebody to gift it to because (in my humble opinion), although I admire the little guy’s philanthropic nature, he was a tad “shellfish” and, it was weighing him down.

The pandemic has had me clawing the walls at times, suffocating like a potted lobster in a sea of, ‘Sorry I bought that but I was bored, tired, sad, lonely, stuck at home with a baby and two moody children.’

Then one day I stumbled upon Buy Nothing Wilton on Facebook. I was humbled, and moderately motivated, (or as motivated as one can get these days) because finally, I had an impetus for getting out from under my heavy shell. (Although, no gifting Lenny(s)–I had made that mistake once (on another site with a hamster) and let’s just say, I turned 50 shades of lobster.)

With Buy Nothing Wilton, I’ve managed to get rid of a lot. It started with the Barbies. It might end with my children. I’m kidding but Jon sometimes jokes that one day he’ll come home and there’ll be no couch left to sit on or kids left to complain about.

Parting ways is never easy (with people or coffee tables). Marlena, the little blue refurbished gal was no exception. Although, I don’t miss the Barbies or their boy band boyfriends or that itty bitty twin who I’m still convinced ate her counterpart (Re: Audrey Two).

And even though we’ve decreased our “shell” exponentially, it still feels like we could do with less. Life can throw a lot of junk your way but holding onto something you know you’ve outgrown only weighs you down. (That was my attempt at saying something inspirational for the day. I see now why writers should stick to their own genres.)

Poor Lenny. Well, he’s probably wandering around there somewhere. To the people living in our old old house, you may want to consider wearing shoes, especially at night. If memory serves me, Lenny not only had a thing for blondes but a bit of a foot fetish. Tread lightly (and, no crab jokes). Seriously. Put a lid on it.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful to the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.