Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Laundry Blues

When I was 14 years old, my mother, a recent arrival to the career track, stepped into the family room and announced to my sisters and me that she was finished doing our laundry. We nodded, then returned to the Bob Newhart re-run we were watching. From that day forward, we did our laundry. The funny thing is, though, that at no time between that day and now have I for once thought that my mom wasn't going to burst back into the family room and announce that she has returned to do our laundry once more.

Laundry is my job. It has been since Sandra Bullock and I first moved in together in 1992. Prior to that, I guess, it was my job too, since I was washing for one at the time. Since 1992, I have logged many hours in laundromats (1992-2001) and in our own laundry room (2001-present). I realized it was time to get our own washer and dryer the day I was at the laundromat washing the Jawa's colorful bulldozer and dump truck sheets and realized that everyone else was washing sorority sweatshirts. Now I do laundry at home, usually two loads every other day, though my new "job" has played havoc with my formerly airtight schedule. As I write this I am drying the last of three loads done today.

I think I am not alone in saying that, as a guy, I seek order and efficiency. If I were a CEO, I would be admired for these traits. Alas, I am no CEO. I have no factory in Des Moines to submit to my needs for a better widget. Instead, I have to direct the full force of my skills at laundry.

Back in the laundromat days, I had a system in which each load would be placed into the washer at 4 minute intervals. This way, when the loads were dry I would have 4 full minutes to fold before the next load was done. No build-up, no wrinkled clothes, one bemused Sandra Bullock.

Now that I do laundry at home, I've developed a system that eliminates one of the most annoying aspects of folding laundry: the multiple categories problem. We have limited folding space (usually our bed), and the stress of having to create 17 little piles -- one for my t-shirts, one for the Jawa's short-sleeved shirts, one for his long sleeved shirts, a special pile for Sandra Bullock's jeans, my workout shorts, the Jawa's pj get the idea. Eventually, you run out of space to fold. Unlike Sandra Bullock, I cannot produce a perfect fold in mid-air.

My solution is simple and is applied only to colors, not whites, because the white load is never big enough. I do a load of "above the belt" items, and one of "below the belt" items. This way, when I fold, I have only a few categories of clothing to worry about. Folding, and putting away, is made much more simple.

Amazingly, though I've done laundry for 26 years, I still have no idea what most of the buttons on the washer and dryer do. I push the button, and off it goes. That 99th monkey who's writing "War and Peace" could step away from the typewriter for a second and do this job. Not the folding, of course, but the actual washing. I am sure there are complex and rewarding benefits to using all of the buttons, and that I've only skimmed the surface of the joys of laundry. I am fine with that.

As for sheets and towels, now that I'm on board with Sandra Bullock's tri-fold method, I actually enjoy the sheet/towel load: very few categories. The sheets themselves, I find them ungainly and often impossible to fold correctly. The tri-fold works on the top sheets, but the fitted sheets give me fits. Still. I used to try to trick Sandra Bullock into folding them for me. Now I just kind of make little folds and hope that the finished fold at least resembles a nicely folded sheet.

Laundry. It never ends.

Please note that though I named this entry "The Laundry Blues," it is in no way an endorsement of the music genre enjoyed notably by Teva-clad baby booming hippies. The thought of one of them arhythmically stomping his way through some tasty Dr. John boogie sporting little shorts, tie-dye and small round glasses kind of turns my stomach.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though I've been fired I still find the mid air fold a thing of wonder that I never mastered.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folding midair is something only a woman can do.

6:48 AM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

Good lord. And I thought Sandra Bullock was anal. Btw, if she's Sandra, does that make you Jesse James? Can't believe no one else has mentioned that.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Lesley said...

No one folds like Sandra Bullock, as I believe I've enviously commented on many,many times.

3:17 PM  

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