If it’s Monday, it’s laundry day.
When we got married, I joined the Hub in Virginia. There I learned how to quilt, say y’all without laughing, insult a Yankee to their face but end with bless your heart, and make a cider beetle*. But mostly, I learned about mold. In the frequently 100-percent humidity of Virginia, any cloth item which became even slightly damp was prey for the pervasively virulent but surprisingly pretty pink mold. Everything — from a hand-towel used one time, to the entire inside surface of the car — would develop a delicate and rapidly spreading pink rash. Laundry was serious business.
I also learned that in proper Southern households, Monday is laundry day. Red beans and rice were the go-to dinner choice as they could simmer away during this all-day chore. I did get my friend Susan’s family recipe for Red Beans & Rice (just ask me!) but opted for a big American washer and dryer set that could handle the industrial-strength laundry needs of our rapidly expanding family.
But some years ago, I made a big mistake: I let the Hub move to England before me. By the time I arrived, he had already acquired the household basics. “But don’t worry,” he assured me. “I did just what you would do and got them on sale.” Oh, yeah, I was scared too. Luckily, he equated little and cheap with “on sale” so most of the
POS dollhouse-sized crap items barely outlasted their six-month warranties, with only a few exceptions. His adorable little fridge can still chill almost a whole six-pack.
Then there was the washing machine he bought. Actually, it was a combo washer/dryer, and it made its home in the kitchen. This, like roundabouts, was a design decision that seemed incomprehensible at first but whose merits eventually won me over. For laundry, the kitchen proved a convenient location for the Hub’s tiny washing machine because its optimal load was about one pair of jeans. Or—if you wanted them to come out dry—one leg of a pair of jeans. This amazing mechanical feat took about five hours per load. So basically, I ran the thing 24/7, taking the (still-soggy) clothes out and draping them over every available surface. Then each and every board-stiff, crunchy item had to be ironed. No really. Everything. (Use your imagination. Yup. Those too.)
I tried to explain to the Village Brain Trust (ie Village Coffee Morning regulars) that very few Americans ironed their dishtowels. Or their knickers. A few admitted that they had heard such crazy talk before, but dismissed it as blatant anti-American propaganda. “I saw them ironing on Frasier,” I was told. More than once. Actually, once they learned I was from Seattle, they asked if I’d ever met any of the Frasier cast. The show apparently attained cult status in the UK, perhaps because of its ironing expertise. When I confessed that I’d never seen Frasier, I think several of them wondered whether I was actually some kind of foreign spy. Maybe from Wales.
How Americans Iron–
Like my dog, the washer was prone to fits. Every few months, my
clothes washer wrinkler nemesis would regurgitate all the water in its tank, and have to be emptied by hand, usually when something urgent was occurring in the kitchen (like this).
⇒Digression: I had a philosophy professor back in the day who said two things I remember. One was that cogito ergo sum actually means “I am thinking, therefore I exist”. The other was that it is impossible to hate inanimate objects. I disproved the first statement the first time I went to a professional football game , where I discovered that it is completely possible for large numbers of people to exist quite convincingly without doing any thinking at all. The second one went when I realized that what I felt for that washing machine was no less than pure, unadulterated loathing.
But I must have been banking some serious karma, because finally a miracle happened. The washer broke. The repairman who gave me the terminal diagnosis said that most people don’t dance at such news, and he usually sees very little singing. Then he told me I was in luck because it was Black Friday and there were sales going.
⇒Okay, another digression. Sue me. Here in the UK, they are a bit Black-Friday-challenged because a Thanksgiving holiday celebrating the Pilgrims’ successful escape from religious persecution in England has never really caught on here. So they can’t really have Black Friday shoppers trampling each other the day after Thanksgiving to get into Marks & Spencer for the doorbuster deals. Not to mention the fact that it’s England: they’d just queue up in an orderly fashion and if anyone attempted to jump queue, they would look at him very severely. There might even be throat-clearing.
As far as I can tell, they choose a random Friday in the lead-up to Christmas, and put washing machines on special. But here’s the good part. They have washers AND dryers. Cogito, ergo volo siccis vestibus! (I am thinking, therefore I want dry clothes.)
As a writer, I’m all about the HEA. (Happily Ever After) I’m not saying I’m obsessed with my new washer and dryer. It’s just that I’m so enchanted by the concept of doing an entire load of laundry in less than an hour on my American-style washing machine and SEPARATE tumble dryer, that I roam the house looking for anything which might have touched the ground or human skin and thus needs immediate laundering. When the kids visited over the holidays, they told me I had a problem, and wondered if there was a 12-step program for compulsive launderers. Just because I tried to get them to give me the clothes they were wearing “for a quick wash”.
Cogito ergo quidam iudicent. (I’m thinking some people are so judgey…)