My mother in law is sick, which means that I am at home with the kiddos today. I found out that I would be unable to go to work last night, so I made the appropriate phone calls and emails, and then decided to sleep in this morning. I figured, if I have to take a day off (which I didn't really want to do), I might as well make the best of it and relax a bit. Which is a good thing, given that I think I may be coming down with a cold too (although nothing compared to what my mother in law has--ick).
So I slept until the ripe old hour of 8, and then got up, checked my work email and made myself some breakfast. I settled into the couch with a beautiful bowl of raspberries that I had picked myself and then had frozen during the summer months, topped with two dollops of snowy, creamy homemade yogurt and a drizzle of local honey. I pulled a blanket around myself and felt so cozy wonderful and happy. Time for tv, I thought. Relaxation, happiness and me-time before the kids get up.
And then I turned on Hoarders and had my stomach pulled out through my ear, stomped on and then shoved up my nose.
(Not exactly, but that's what it felt like.)
Now, every week, Hoarders has some mildly nasty moments. There will be a dead cat up under a year's worth of garbage, or some animal feces, or some puffy yogurt (and, well, there was that time that there was a staircase full of human feces packed in plastic bags, but we'll not go there). I mean, it is nasty, but it is passive. You get past the moment and you may tell your husband about it later in a, "Dude, that's some nasty shit!" kind of amazement, but you aren't left with a feeling of discomfort that lasts, I don't know, DAYS. OR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Because I'm pretty sure that images from last night's Hoarder's episode will play in my end of life montage right before I die. Oh, look, there I'm a baby...graduating from college...birth of Alice....HOLY SHIT IT'S HOARDERS. AAAAGH.
But this week...wow. Just the level of mental illness and depravity and total lack of empathy or any real human emotion on this week's episode was startling. And right here is where I should say something intelligent about the lengths that these reality shows will go to to exploit these illnesses, but to be honest, I'm still too shocked to even talk about it.
I am going to give you a little taste of what this episode was about, because I feel I would be remiss if I did not, but please note that if you have a weak constitution, or you know, you value the respect you feel for your fellow man, I would advise you not to read further. In fact, just go happily on your way and don't look back. Perhaps you should get one of those Men In Black style memory erasers and just forget you ever found this blog in the first place.
The episode centers on the stories of Hanna and of Gary and Kathy, a married couple. We'll start with Hanna. Hanna looks absolutely grotesque. You know when you were a kid and you saw those plump little mushrooms in the woods that you could stomp? And you'd stomp a few and they would smoke and you'd be left with a kind of lumpy, flattened fungus? Hanna is the living embodiment of that. She's fat, yes, but she is also misshapen. She has a wattle, ya'll. Which, you know, makes sense if you've lived the life that she has. She has had 16 kids, 10 of which have survived to adulthood. The other 6? Probably lost in the chicken shit. Yeah, mull that around for a second. Chicken shit. Anyway, Hanna lost all those kids when social services came and take them away in 1983 (which was a totally bitchin' year, if you ask me). However, for some godawful reason, those kids are still very much around, and want to assist with the clean up. Now, I love my mom, but she were an abusive animal hoarder who lived in absolute squalor and had turned my life into complete and utter shit, I might pass on helping out on a clean-up weekend. So these people are probably much better people than I am. But they are also the most reprehensible rednecks you've ever seen. And I live in Southern Appalachia, ya'll. I know a redneck when I see one. These people THROW DOWN, and actually start fighting in front of the Hoarders crew. This ain't Jerry Springer, ya'll. RESPECT THE PAXTON.
Anyway, Hanna hoards stuff, yes. In fact, there's a whole house full of it. But she also hoards chickens. And goats. The goats live outside in misery, and the chickens are forced into living inside storage tubs with chicken wire and bricks on top. Oh, and the chickens also live in one-two feet of their own feces. Yup. Matt Paxton, who may be my future husband if my (current)Matt drinks this milkshake I'm making (KIDDING!), finds a dead chicken who had been crushed to death by FECES, and is now as flat as a pancake. It is deplorable. I won't go into just what is accomplished by the whole Hoarder's experience for this woman, but let's just say the whole thing is incredibly depressing.
Two funny things though: one, when Hanna's kids came, they start getting in the fight. And they are screaming and shouting about really nothing at all, and I'm kind of tuning it out because you can see this shit at Wal-Mart on the regular if you are that interested, but then the camera just cuts to this shot of this dude just sitting there smoking a cigarette. He's so used to the whole thing--the squalor, the shouting, hell, the television crew. That he's just sitting there, in an orange t-shirt with an eagle on it, smoking away. Good for him. And second, the show chooses to show us Hanna at some point, sitting on a bucket in her "kitchen" drinking a mason jar full of some brown liquid. At one point, I was like "thin chocolate milk." But you know that's not what it was. What could it be? The mind blows, ya'll.
The other person featured on the show is just as despicable. His name is Gary, and he's an asshole. He says something at the beginning like, "My name is Gary and I'm unemployed. Yeah, I've got too many bunnies." That's pretty much what you need to know about him. He talks about how he didn't have enough money to buy a hutch, and he had this dude bunny who just knocked up all the chick bunnies and he just decided to let them run free, and you know, EAT THE WALLS OF HIS RENTED HOUSE. Because that's what you and I would totally do! He even says something like, "I'd like to see your house!" Sure, Gary, come on over. No, I don't live in a perfectly straight mansion with gold toilet seats. But, um, there's not an six inch layer of shit anywhere in my house. Score one for me. Anyway, Gary didn't have enough scratch for a hutch, but he has a pretty bitching computer it looks like. Which I'm sure he uses to chat on IRC and look up "breasts" in the Grollier's encyclopedia. 1994 called, Gary. It wants its technology back. And while we're at it, since Gary is unemployed and his wife is on "disability," then the American people would like you to scoot over Gary, so we can play a game of Freecell on the computer WE PAID FOR.
Gary sucks, but his wife doesn't get a pass in my book. She is pretty grotesque too, as far as looks go, and she is disabled. But, folks, being disabled doesn't mean you can't throw out the bag after you finish the Cheetoes. And yes, I am oversimplifying a LOT and yes, someone somewhere is going to get pissed over this, but I'm pretty sure Kathy's disability would be cured if she ate a green vegetable once a year and maybe, you know, walked around a bit. Just a note: she and Gary use their cell phones to talk to each other so that they won't have to get up and move about the house. Mull that one over, folks. Anyway, I understand that she is probably mentally abused by this guy every day, but shit, ya'll. Personal responsibility. Look into it.
Anyway, the part of this story that was interesting/not incredibly horribly awful was when the landlords came. Because this is their house, ya'll. What kind of an incredibly horrible SHIT do you have to be to poop-up someone else's house? These people are saints. They were shocked, yes, but managed not to explode in a fit of rage and rub Gary and Kathy's faces in the mound of rabbit poop. They are from Oklahoma--maybe that is how people from Oklahoma just are. If that's so, Oklahomans are amazing. They didn't even evict these people! My god! When I was in college, the management of our apartment complex would threaten eviction if you left a bag of garbage on your stoop for an HOUR.
And you know, I was going to make a New Year's Resolution post anyway, but this episode of Hoarders has inspired me to do much, much more in the way of life change. Some examples:
1. I am becoming a vegan.
2. I actually may never eat again.
3. I am moving to New Zealand to become a sheep farmer.