Whatever the distance, moving rates a 75 on the stress scale


April 21, 1991|By ROGER SIMON

Last time I moved, I was convinced the movers had stolen on champagne glass.

"We got six for a wedding present and now we have only five," I told my wife, who, like me, was standing in a mountain of paper next to canyons of boxes.

"There is a mover somewhere on the interstate drinking java from our champagne glass and laughing at us," I said.

"Nobody would steal a single champagne glass," she said. "Besides, we haven't used them since we got them, which was seven years ago."

"That's not the point," I said. "We registered for champagne glasses and we gouged our friends for six of them and that's how manywe should have."

"It will turn up somewhere," she said. "It always does."

And it did. Three years later -- I am not making this up -- I opened up a box in the basement marked "Sports Equipment" to look for a basketball. And there, carefully wrapped in bubble-wrap and lovingly placed inside my old fencing mask from college was the stray champagne glass.

"OK, so the guy didn't steal it," I told my wife. "But only an idiot would put a champagne glass inside a fencing mask."

"Maybe," she said, "but I would like to point out that it has now been 10 years and we still have never used the champagne glasses. Which may indicate we lack six friends."

"No," I said firmly. "We merely lack six friends upon whom we would squander champagne."

Last weekend, we moved again. This time, my electric drill turned up missing. So I did the logical thing and looked inside my fencing mask. But it wasn't there.

I did not find it, in fact, until two days later, when I located it inside a plastic garbage can underneath a neatly coiled garden hose.

I guess that should have been the first place I looked.

I once read that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. Psychologists have assigned point values to various crises in life and the more points you added up in a short amount of time, the more stressed-out you are.

An illness is something like 20 points and changing jobs is 25 points and the death of a loved one is 40 points, but moving is something like75 points.

I can't remember exactly, but if your point total ever reaches 100, I think your eyebrows melt and the top of your head blows off.

This time, we only moved about 10 miles, but that turns out to be the worst kind of move you can do. It has all the hassles of moving cross-country, but you get none of the sympathy from your friends.

"It's only 10 miles," my friends (who still don't add up to six) said, "so don't expect us to help you with the sofa bed or the box spring."

"But I still have to wrap up everything so the movers can hide them in various places," I said. "And I still have to unpack everything at the other end."

"That's not the point," they said (in unison no less). "Short moves are simply not as stressful as long moves."

Which is absolutely untrue. Because both short and long moves require you to deal with foam peanuts. Foam peanuts are currently hailed as the greatest packing material of all time. In the past, people used stupid packing materials like balled-up newspapers.

We now know this was ridiculous because paper is a natural product that is biodegradable, while foam peanuts will probably outlast the planet.

I mean it. If a comet should hit the earth and we all should be vaporized, I am guessing that the only thing that would survive is a thin cloud of foam peanuts.

As long as the foam peanuts stay in their little boxes, cushioning yourdishes or computer or whatever, they are fine.

But should they ever spill from their boxes, you are doomed. Try to pick them up. Go ahead and try. Even if you have big hands, you can't grab more than six of them.

So try to sweep them up with a broom. Go ahead and try. Each motion of the broom causes the peanuts to scatter.

"It's the Heisenberg Principle," my mover, Al, said. "The very act of trying to sweep a foam peanut causes the foam peanut to become unsweepable."

(As you can tell, I hire my movers for brains as well as brawn.)

There is one other thing about short moves: It still takes the

same amount of time to unpack. Which is to say: forever.

You find yourself unpacking boxes that you never unpacked the last time you moved. And you quickly pack them up again.

So I figure if I move enough times, virtually everything I own will be in a box that I never need to open.

And all I will need to live on is a chair, a few clothes, a few books, and, of course, my six champagne glasses.

Which I would really like to count. If I could find them. Which I can't.

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