"There's an old saying that you're not a man until you have everything out of your parents' house," my dad said to me once.
"Who said that?" I asked.
"Me, mostly." He was trying to get me to remove my childhood belongings that were still in his attic.
Of course, my wife disagreed. She had spent the last 10 years trying to get me to quit holding on to things I no longer needed. She thought he wanted to give me more junk, which I would hold onto for another 10 years.
"No, do not bring any of that crap over!" she told him.
"Just do it when she's not around," I whispered when she turned her back.
It was mostly old books, including my old high school yearbooks. I gave a few of the books to my son, and dumped my first three high school yearbooks. I hid my senior yearbook from my kids, and everything else went into recycling or the trash.
Finally, at age 47, I was a man.
Cassandra Byrnes of New Zealand's Stuff website (official motto: "No, dammit, it's a whole other country!") created a list of things people shouldn't have in their homes after they turn 30. Based on her list, as well as a few items of my own, here is a list of things a grown man should not have past the age of 30.
Unframed posters: One of Byrnes' items. If you want a framed poster, fine. They look a little arty and nostalgic, and you look semi-grown up. But if you're still rocking the celebrity-in-a-bikini poster, no frame will make that look classy. Ditch it.
Trophies: Why do you have your intramural soccer trophy sitting next to your TV? Better yet, why do you have it at all? If your trophies are more than five years old, get rid of them. On the other hand, grown-up awards one might receive for, say, a comedy script writing competition are totally acceptable.
Photos on your refrigerator of you and your friends getting hammered: While I've always insisted on not being photographed with a drink in my hand — in some circles, this is what's known as "irrefutable evidence" — I've always appreciated the fun pictures people like to put on their fridge. Of course, if you're 30, you've stopped getting hammered with your friends and show a little more restraint. If those photos are less than six months old, look at your life. Look at your choices. I'm guessing you're not where you thought you'd be by this time.
The jeans you wore when you were 20: They're too small. They're never going to fit you anymore. You need to relax and settle down. Your stomach already has, which is why those jeans aren't going to fit anymore.
CDs or DVDs on display: Byrnes says these should just go in the garbage, but I disagree. At the same time, if this is the main visual element of your living room, you need to trim down your collection, burn it onto your computer, and put the rest in a closet.
Dust: Another of Byrnes', but it shouldn't be on the list. This isn't a choice people make. We don't shout "You can have my dust bunnies and Heather Locklear poster when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers!" I recognize that it's important to keep your house clean, and to dust fairly frequently, but dust happens. It's not a possession, it's a circumstance.
I mean, if we're going to be picky about it, piles of dishes in the sink and a toweringly-full garbage can should be on the list. But it should go without saying that you don't purposely keep these things. It should be the same with "dust."
(But while we're on the subject, would it kill you to just swish around a dust cloth once in a while?)
Crocs: They're fine for kids and people who still think cargo shorts are cool. But once you graduate from high school, you shouldn't wear these outside the house. Or inside.
When you think about it, there's a lot of things we're told we shoudn't do or have once we're an adult. Don't read comic books. Don't eat kid's cereal. Don't wear t-shirts with TV characters or funny sayings.
Except I like doing some of those things. I enjoy reading comic books once in a while. I still eat Cap'n Crunch whenever I can. And my favorite t-shirt says "witty phrase here."
So while Cassandra Byrnes may be on the money with a few of her items — inflatable furniture and beanbags — if you truly like the things you own, keep them.
Don't let me or anyone else tell you what you should have in your own house. If it makes you happy, own it, wear it, display it with pride. Do what you love, and quit worrying about other people's opinions.
I'm serious about the Crocs though.
You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.