Saturday, December 10, 2011

Airing My Dirty Laundry

I hate doing laundry.

It’s just so . . . needy. It annoys my inner soul. It annoys my outer soul, too—the part that hates being naked and forces me to sort and separate. Bah, humbug.

When I was a newlywed, I had a friend who sent all of her laundry out. I know! Who deserves that kind of luxury? Plus, I thought they only do that in Singapore or New York City or something. She didn’t sort anything—just piled it into giant bags, handed it off to a driver who magically appeared at her front door once a week, and the next day they brought it all back, clean and hung up. That woman was my hero. She had her priorities straight—life is too short to waste time folding underwear.

I, on the other hand, had devised an entirely different way of handling weekly washing. Since I didn’t have a dryer, all our clothes hung outside on a clothesline under giant oak trees. Where they stayed indefinitely. It looked like a garage sale in our backyard. Whenever we needed something to wear, we went outside, searched along the clothesline and brought in that day’s outfit. (I’m pretty sure even Jeff Foxworthy would drop his dentures at THAT redneck confession. I’m so embarrassed.) Then I set up the ironing board and my husband did the pressing. Did I mention I also hate ironing? Well, it was (and still is) an act of self-protection on his part—he thinks it’s tacky to wear uniform shirts embossed with the brown outline of a sole plate.

In my own defense, we lived in sunny Florida at the time, so all those laundered clothes smelled sweet and fresh from hanging out in the sanitizing sunlight for days at a time . . . which lightened their color somewhat . . . and provided creature comfort for tiny life forms. Hmm. I guess that didn’t do much to rationalize anything. To my horror, twice Rob and I were awakened in the night by the sensation of tiny feet crawling on our sensitive skin. That’ll jolt you out of a deep sleep. The first time it happened, I instinctively grabbed my assailant and threw what turned out to be a giant palmetto bug (known in these southwestern parts as a sewer roach) across the bed where it landed feet first on the bare back of my comatose husband. Wow. I didn’t know firemen could jump that far.

Two weeks later, I flung a two-inch centipede from my neck in a move that should have earned me a brown belt in ka-ra-te. My sensei would have been proud. Rob was just grateful I missed his innocent body that time. Honestly, I think the clothesline should have been located far away from the oak trees—to discourage hitchhikers—and closer to the house, making it easier to bring in petrified laundry.

I’m happy to tell you, though, that since I joined a twelve step program for sudsaphobes, I actually have clothing hanging in my closet. It’s not generally the stuff I need on a daily basis—those items are hanging in our laundry room—but winter coats, outdated shirts and formal wear definitely give the illusion of a proper closet. The other night I told my husband he didn’t need to go down the hall to locate his socks because I moved the clothes baskets into the living room in case one of us wanted to practice folding. Now he can conveniently search for his shorts while he watches Monday night football.

Hey, at least they’re not hanging outside under a tree.

(Photo courtesy of nick see's photostream at


  1. Love this Eula! I had no drier for a couple years - just got one a few months ago. No trees out back, but lots of wooden folding racks in my living room. I swear, you and I are long lost sisters!

  2. I know right?!! And I've noticed there's a whole 'nother sisterhood of us laundry haters out there who definitely outnumber the few who swear that washing clothes is relaxing for them. I'd be happy, though, to help friends like that relax by providing them with a few more loads to launder. ;)