By Brandon York aka Uof LnMU

When I got divorced, I made myself a rule: I would display memorabilia wherever, whenever, and however I wanted to. (No, this isn’t going to be a divorced guy rant, all appearances to the contrary.) I moved out and got a reasonably sized apartment, and made the conscious decision that I would end up “living the dream”: My new living room sports a team-signed Real Madrid jersey, flanked with signed photos of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali—one corner is devoted to the Reds, another to the Bengals. I also have a wall of memorabilia from the college teams I support. And lest you think I’m not geeky enough, my office is entirely Star Wars themed.


And I have a girlfriend. Who doesn’t look like a troll. (At the risk of seeming sexist, this article is mainly geared toward the guys. It’s been my experience that women who collect really don’t worry about guys think about their hobbies. They possess that not-so-insignificant aspect of personality that causes men to look past almost all foibles and flaws. Boobs.)


I took the cue from Quentin Tarantino. (In the interest of full disclosure, I would generally not endorse taking life lessons from Tarantino…unless you are a big fan of profanity and gun play.) In an interview I’d read with Tarantino, he’d stated that if he was getting serious with a girl, he’d sit her down and they’d watch Rio Bravo, “and she’d better like it.” While perhaps it’s a bit crass to frame it in the way he did, collecting is a large part of who we are. Understanding collecting goes a long way to understanding us. It’s also a pretty apt way for discovering where the future “issues” lay. Hearing “You’re paying the back-up shortstop on the Reds how much for him to put his name on a baseball?” or “What are you going to do with all of this stuff?” or my favorite: “When are you going to get rid of this crap?” is fairly poisonous to the relationship.


Prior to the relationship I’m in now, I struggled through this sort of (frequently not-so-thinly veiled) commentary and the occasional “So, how much is all this stuff worth?” There are ways of answering that question…with varying results. In retrospect, the right answer was “A great deal to me.” (Of course, the rejoinder to that would be “Well, how much am I worth?” At that point, it probably ends poorly for all parties. No one gets between me and Peter Edward Rose. Unfortunately, the answer I gave was that it was difficult to move signed memorabilia if I was looking to sell it, but it was (paradoxically) expensive to obtain legitimate autographs. Fellas, if you find yourself ever trying to justify your collection, that’s not the best way to do it.


I no longer display my collection quite the same way that I once did, though. I have a little bit of a different aesthetic—more mature, I’d hope. I display a fraction of the signed photos I used to, and group my items much more thematically. I get to look at some of the things I have more frequently. I want to enjoy the impact that it has. It’s the whole “less-is-more” sort of thing, which I’d argue makes the impact of the collection seem a little more palatable to someone else’s aesthetic. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.)


The bottom line is that if you are concerned about how your (safe and sane) lifestyle will be seen by other folks, then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate who you are dating or running with. As long as the rent is on time, who really cares? At the end of the day the big question is how comfortable you are with yourself. My buddies know how much I love sports and Star Wars, and they don’t have an issue with it. (I suppose it helps to run with nerds.) They find it impressive to come on down and hang out in the equivalent of a sports bar–with much more edible food and cleaner bathrooms! If you think the girl of your dreams is going to balk at the sight of a wall of mini-helmets, what would be the difference if you didn’t have the minis? It would be something else. You would spend too much time watching sports, or you would breathe with your mouth open. If you are that “into” collecting, it is who you are. If they can’t get past that, they can’t get you. End of story.