Closet Case


My wife has been trying to get me to come out of the closet. We’ve talked about this for some time. It’s a private matter. You can’t really involve anyone else; even family members. I was embarrassed to tell my brothers or my closest friends.

My wife thought that maybe talking to someone, a professional, would help. You know, someone with expertise. Someone who could be supportive. But that was the problem in the first place. If it hadn’t been for a closet designer, I’d still be in the closet.

Let me be clear: I’m not coming out of the closet. I’m being expelled from it. Pushed out. Pressured. I’m being outed. My wife wants the closet all to herself. In other words, she wants me out of “her” closet, previously known as “our” closet. 

When we bought our turn-of-the-century barn of a house it did not have closets. None. It was a good buy. I might not have been able to afford it if it had closets. I thank my lucky stars because owning my little piece of Baltimore allows me to pay property taxes that one would normally need to move to Scandinavia to find. And bask in our opulent city services! What’s not to like? Just call me Mr. Lucky.

So we needed closets, walk-in mini-rooms where one could keep hundreds of pairs of shoes, racks of suits, shelves of shirts. Not that I actually own racks of suits or shelves of shirts. 

I’m not sure what the previous occupants did. Perhaps armoires were enough? Perhaps a century ago no one could afford more than one suit?

So we hired a carpenter to build closets, little rooms really. Then something called California Closets—one of those operations at the mall between a discount optometrist and a place that sells potpourri by the ton weight—took it from there. Their experts made those rooms into closets—and in one of those closets my wife assembled her vast wardrobe and legendary shoe collection. My wife is the Imelda Marcos of Roland Park. We have a first-name relationship with the UPS man and FedEx. Zappos uses her shoe collection in its national advertising campaign. And those are the cheap shoes. This is where my problems began.

The use of the term master suite is a misnomer in our happy home. My presence is very slight. Not really required. I am never allowed to use the master bathroom lest I disturb something. I believe that marriage counselors used to tell young couples that marriage is not always 50-50. Sometimes it’s 60-40. Or 70-30? Closets are like that, too.

We started out 50/50. Half the closet was my wife’s space. And half was mine. That changed fairly quickly. I was at a disadvantage going into this arrangement. 

I don’t own half a closet’s worth of couture. I only have a few pairs of shoes. 

The next thing I knew my closet space was being encroached upon, a kind of sartorial Anschluss. My space was annexed, occupied, overrun. I was squeezed into a corner. Indians must have found this to be the case with the first settlers. First they build a little homestead, a few acres. Next, they have Connecticut. And Massachusetts. And pretty soon they want you to move west. That was the story of our closet. I am being slowly and inextricably pushed out.

At this writing I am still in there but it’s pretty pathetic. I’m down to less than 30 percent of the space and things do not look good. A tsunami of shoes in the last six months left me pretty devastated. Now the summer season looms, a kudzu of new clothes—and I fear that will be the end.

I have had to move most of my suits and sport jackets into a closet in my daughter’s room. She lives in New York so there’s room in her closet. But my wife is making inroads there, too. She has begun to colonize that closet. Where will this end? I could wind up in one of those PODS, one of those portable storage units that you see parked in front of houses that are being renovated. I’ve always wondered if someone was living in those things. Now I’ll know.

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