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The Big Stuff Theory

By Jerry Zezima

I’ve always considered myself top drawer, but the sad fact is that I’m bottom drawer, too. And it’s all because my drawers are stuffed with drawers.

Every drawer in my house, as well as every closet, cabinet and bin, is stuffed with stuff.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that this is a problem. But it did take a rocket scientist to explain why.

“It’s the law of physics,” said my son-in-law Guillaume, an accelerator physicist who may not work with rockets but is a dedicated man of science and a great guy who works on a particle collider. He is destined, I proudly predict, to win the Nobel Prize.

I, on the other hand, am a lazy man of journalism who flunked science in school and thinks a collider is a car that has been in a fender bender. And if the vehicle happened to be mine, the particles would include protons, neutrons and, of course, a moron. For that, I would no doubt win the Ig Nobel Prize.

Still, I reacted with the speed of light beer when I learned that physics is the reason my underwear can’t fit in my dresser.

“No matter how many drawers you add to your bedroom, eventually all of them will be filled,” Guillaume explained. “In physics, there is a theory that states that every empty space will eventually get filled. Everything has to be stable, everything radiates energy.”

“Even my boxer shorts?” I asked.

“Basically, yes,” Guillaume replied.

“I’m not stable,” I said. “And I seldom radiate energy.”

“You are a scientific wonder,” said Guillaume, adding: “A French chemist named Antoine Lavoisier said, ‘nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed.'”

“And it’s transformed in my house,” I said.

“But there is a reverse corollary,” Guillaume noted. “If you put something down in a specific place, something you know you need, like your car keys, and you tell yourself, ‘now I know where it is,’ you won’t be able to find it again.”

I understood perfectly because my wife, Sue, can never find any of the half-dozen or so pairs of eyeglasses she has scattered around the house.

“If I won Powerball, I’d never collect the money,” I told Guillaume. “That’s because Sue, a neat person, would inadvertently throw out the ticket, or I, a messy person, would put it somewhere in the house and never find it.”

“Don’t worry,” said Guillaume, “it’s the same in my house. Spaces get filled and things we need can never be found.”

I was beginning to comprehend this phenomenon because I could barely open my dresser drawers, one of which is jammed with underwear, another with socks, a third with t-shirts and a fourth with pajamas.

In my office, there is a plastic bin with three drawers that are stuffed with sweatpants and sweatshirts. I have to sweat just to get them open.

The hall closet is filled with coats and jackets, as is the family room closet. The vast majority of the outerwear, I hasten to add, isn’t mine. It belongs to Sue, who thoughtfully buys me the clothes that can’t fit into my dresser drawers or in my bedroom closet, which is bulging with shirts, pants, suits, ties and sport jackets, some of which I haven’t worn in years.

The hall dresser has enough gloves, scarves and knit caps to keep the entire population of Sweden warm.

Then there’s the kitchen, which has one small holder containing approximately three dozen pens and pencils and a larger holder with spatulas, ladles, tongs and other items that practically have to be hammered in. I’m surprised there isn’t a hammer in there.

And there are the kitchen drawers, two of which have enough utensils for a state dinner and another that is filled to overflowing with potholders, oven mitts, trivets and so much other stuff that it couldn’t be closed by a charging rhinoceros.

I don’t even want to talk about the cabinets, though I will say that half of the world’s coffee and tea could be poured into all the mugs we have.

The garage is also littered with stuff, but Sue recently came up with the great idea to transfer some of it to a space that has gone to waste since we moved in nearly a quarter of a century ago: the attic.

The other day I lugged several boxes of Christmas stuff up there. Also moved to the attic was a large suitcase belonging to our younger daughter, Lauren, who not only has been out of the house since the administration of George W. Bush, but happens to be Guillaume’s wife.

“Pretty soon, the attic will be filled, too,” Guillaume predicted.

“And the only empty space in the house will be the one between my ears,” I said.

“That’s because you have too thick of a skull for anything to penetrate,” Guillaume observed.

“You’re brilliant,” I said. “If you don’t win the Nobel Prize, the judges can go stuff it.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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