"You have a monkey on your back," I said.
"I do not," she said, but she ran her hand over her shoulder just to be sure.
"You are hooked," I said.
"I am not."
"You are addicted," I said.
"The first step to recovery is to stop your denial," I said.
"I can quit whenever I want," she said.
"That's what all you fabric fiends say," I said. "You're a fabric junkie. You need help." I was offering tough love. It was the only way with her. Already she was spending money we didn't have. Already she was hiding fabric around the house. Already she was sneaking around the house day and night to visit her stash. And she talked in her sleep about Kona Cotton and the 1999 Hoffman Challenge and Debbie Mumm and Benartex and Moda and Marcus Brothers.
"You don't think I can just stop shopping for fabric," she said, challenging me.
"I don't think you can stop for more than a day," I said. Sometimes she did stop for a day, but it was a long, long day for her.
"Well, you're wrong. Many people have stopped. I can stop any time I want," she said. She stomped her right foot down hard and snapped her fingers.
"If you can stop, why do you have the Hancock's of Paducah catalog on the table ready to read when you eat lunch? Why do you have three more catalogs in the bathroom? Why is there a catalog in the shower? Why do you have the telephone numbers to PineTree Quiltworks and Quilt-a-way Fabrics tattooed on your right hand? Why is there a sale brochure in your left hand right now?"
She looked surprised to find she was holding a mailing for a "Sale of a Lifetime."
"I was just throwing it out," she said. She tried to look contrite. I took it from her. I would have to shred it, of course, or she would track it down. If I threw it in the trash, she would find it again like some scavenger going through the neighborhood trash bins. Even though the sale was in San Francisco, 300 miles away, the brochure was dangerous in her hands. If there was an 800 number anywhere in its pages, that was double trouble. UPS wouldn't have enough trucks to handle the deliveries.
"It's for your own good," I said. "You know that."
"I want to quit. I really do. Isn't there some anonymous support group or something?" she pleaded. "Isn't there some recovery program?" She had reached rock bottom. She was ready for a cure.
I looked in the Yellow Pages, but there were no recovery groups for people like her. I called the Betty Ford Clinic. No luck. I tried the Salvation Army. Their solution was for her to donate all her fabric to charity. Finally, I realized that to get clean, she would have to help herself.
"You have to do it yourself," I said. "I'll support you. But it's all up to you." I envisioned myself blocking all incoming mail, turning off the telephone, keeping her away from the quilting links on the Internet, taking away her car keys, and, finally, cutting up her credit cards. Hey, whatever it took.
"I have to do it myself," she agreed meekly, afraid of the unknown, but she was willing to go cold turkey and rid herself of the curse.
"I will take the pledge," she said, surrendering to common sense and steeling herself for the coming ordeal.
I didn't know there was a pledge, but the next morning, as she writhed in agony, hungry to open the two new quilt magazines that had come in the mail the day before, I saw she was holding a small wrinkled sheet of paper. I looked at the paper, and then I looked at her. She handed me the paper. In her anxious handwriting, she had written a pledge. I held it close and felt my heart burst at this testimony to her strength. How brave she was, my Darling Wife. There were ten steps to recovery on her list. She was committed, and I saw a bright future for her. I read it carefully.
1. I will not to think about fabric more than once a day.
2. I will no longer sleep with swatches of fabric in my hand.
3. I will throw away sale flyers and announcements immediately.
4. I will not play favorites and love one fabric more than another.
5. I will visit only one quilt shop a week and limit my shopping on the Internet.
6. I will not have other people buy fabric for me.
7. I will not hide fabric in the bathroom or guest bedroom or kitchen.
8. I will not "forget" how much fabric I already have stashed away.
9. I will use any fabric that I buy as soon as I can.
10. I will use up all my fabric before I buy more.
At the bottom was her signature and the date. April 1, 1999.
When I finished reading, she was laughing. Why was she laughing?
Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver
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