March 12, 2002
Laundry Detail


Monday night.  David and I are sitting in the middle of the bed, with the laundry basket parked between us,  tandem-folding two fresh-from-the-dryer loads. my wife: i think i'll keep himFor inspiration, we are each wearing a clean pair of women's Danskin underpants on our head.

[Don't ask.]

As we sort and fold, he tells me about a conversation he had with a woman in his office this morning. The subject of the conversation was rude people. David was telling her the tragic tale of the neighbor who snuck into our laundry room, this past weekend, and snagged the only working dryer right out from under him ... even though David had clearly gotten there first. (Then this person went off and left four big messy wet loads of laundry unattended for hours, effectively bottlenecking the process for everyone else in the apartment complex for the rest of the afternoon.)

"That's the kind of stuff that just drives me nuts," David told his co-worker.

She looked at him in surprise. "Don't you have a new wife?" she asked. 

When David replied that yes, he got married last summer, she said  -- and I swear to god I am not making this up -- "Then why are YOU doing your laundry?"

"How OLD is this woman??" I shrieked, when David told me about her comment. This sort of backward-thinking might be more easily understood (if not forgiven) if she were of a certain age or era or cultural persuasion. A sweet little old grandmotherly type, for instance.  Or an Osmond.  But David says no, she's closer to our age, late thirties/early forties, and that she's a married, working mom with kids who otherwise appears to be completely rational.

Except that she's running a decade or three behind the rest of the modern world.

David's courteous but emphatic response to her was, "Just because I got married doesn't mean that my laundry becomes someone else's job."  He told her that he has always done his own laundry, ever since he was a kid. His mother was a working mom -- a nurse at a local hospital -- and she taught her three young sons how to do laundry very early in life. Plus, he remained a bachelor until he was nearly thirty years old. Even a swingin' young punk rocker needs clean socks and underwear.

"Did you tell her that you do my laundry, too?" I said. I've never met this co-worker, but I already know she's probably not ever going to become my new best friend. How would she react if she knew that not only does David routinely take care of his own laundry, he often does his wife's laundry, as well?  (Although -- if it makes you feel any better -- he's not very good at it. I have an entire wardrobe of Barbie-size sweaters, thanks to Mr. *Hot Regular Wash/Hot Perma-Press Dry.*)

He said no, that was pretty much the sum total of their conversation. His co-worker seemed shocked enough to hear that The Man of The House was on more or less permanent laundry detail. He didn't want to add to her distress.

Later in the evening, after the laundry was folded and put away, I took a break from my critically important People Magazine article ("Rosie's Brave Step: She's Gay, She's Happy, and She's Very Much In Love") and wandered out to the kitchen. David had washed the dishes and put them away, scrubbed the countertops and the sink, wiped down the Ugly Pink Stove, swept the kitchen floor and hauled two bags of garbage out to the dumpster. Now he was getting a jumpstart on cooking tomorrow night's dinner.

"Your spaghetti sauce smells great," I said, lifting the lid of the saucepan and taking a long, appreciative inhale.

"Well," he said, "it's not as good as it could be. I couldn't find the Italian seasoning anywhere."

I reached into the kitchen cupboard above the drainboard. "You should have asked me to look for it," I said, plucking the jar of Spice Islands Gourmet Blend from its hiding spot behind the Lapsang Souchong and the bag of dried plums. "Now I feel bad."

He kissed the top of my forehead. "It's not your 'job' to keep track of the spices," he said. And he lifted the lid of the saucepan and stirred a healthy sprinkling of basil and oregano into his spaghetti sauce. 

"By the way," he said, as he stirred. "I'm going to iron a couple of shirts in a minute. If you've got anything you need to have pressed, bring it out here to me, OK?"

Maybe we'd better not tell The Co-Worker about this one, either. The shock might kill her.



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