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Judy Spooner Viewpoint: No waffling when it comes to recycling

"Did you throw the newspaper away?" asked husband Gary.

I told him I put it in the recycle bin but offered to retrieve it.

We have gotten a daily morning newspaper since the day we married. Gary, a St. Paul boy, wouldn't be without it.

"I've tried to figure out how you know that the one and only day this month that I recycled the newspaper before 10 p.m. is the day you want to read something in it that you didn't read this morning," I said.

"I don't know what you mean," he said. "You're the one who recycles the paper."

I explained about how much I work on trying to get my family to give up the notion that I throw away everything near and dear to them.

It started with his letter jacket from Murray High School in St. Paul, when we'd been married 10 years and I was cleaning closets.

I came across the letter jacket he wore 30 pounds earlier. Thirteen years out of high school, I wondered what he was saving it for. It turns out that most of Gary's best memories are connected with playing football for Murray High School and wearing that jacket.

He was alarmed that I would consider getting rid of it. Gary is more important to me than life itself, so I felt terrible that I had been so callous and shallow. I felt so bad that I patiently listened to him retell the story I'd heard many times about the first practice every fall, how wonderful his coaches were and how much they influenced his life.

Many years later, the jacket crumpled on its own and I turned the disposal task over to him.

But Gary, and our daughters, never forgot how I once tried to throw away Dad's letter jacket.

I'm the only one in the family who cleans closets and drawers. I admit that without consulting anyone I've cleaned out the back closet of coats, jackets, hats and scarves no one wore anymore and took them to the Stone Soup Thrift Store. But someone has to do it, or imagine what this place would look like.

Last week, Gary and I came home from shopping after we treated ourselves to some overpriced specialty ice cream that was delicious. He had his in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone. He finished his ice cream but left the cone in the paper dish on the kitchen counter and went upstairs to his computer. I thought he was done with it and I threw it away.

"Where's my waffle cone?" he asked two hours later.

How was I to know, ladies and gentlemen of the jury?

I apologized to no avail. "I suppose this looks bad because I recycled your newspaper the other day," I said.

"And you almost threw away my letter jacket once," he said, trying not to laugh.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600