A prime example of my domestic ineptitude would be my history with laundry. When I was a kid, Mom did the laundry, and the most I had to do was gather it from my siblings’ and my rooms. When I was a child, Mom asked me to put the clothes in the washing machine. I readily agreed, and I carted the laundry with me to the basement. Mom loves to tell the story about how I came upstairs a few minutes later and bewilderedly asked her which one was the washing machine. That was more or less the end of my laundry career. Every now and again, if Mom was really desperate for help, she’d ask me to sort the laundry into lights and darks. I even struggled with that. That green shirt could be a light OR a dark, and I wasn’t about to be the one who screwed up the laundry. And don’t even get me started on clothes with multiple colors: stripes were the worst.
It should be no surprise, then, as I grew older and started buying my own clothes, I paid close attention to the labels. Not labels as in brands: labels as in washing instructions. I avoided anything and everything that said “hand wash” or, even worse, “dry clean only.” If my clothes were wrinkly, oh well: rather than iron them, I would wear the wrinkly clothes and hope that no one noticed.
My laundry troubles only grew when I went to college and discovered that I now had to PAY to wash my clothes! I learned to hoard quarters and ration clothes carefully: you saved your best clothes for the weekends and wore all the other junk during the week. You wouldn’t want to be caught in something less than wonderful at the local skeezy house party! Like any other college student, I brought along loads of laundry every time I came to visit my parents. I had never realized what a luxury it was: I didn’t have to pay to wash my clothes there, and I didn’t have to babysit my laundry for fear someone would remove it prematurely from the washing machine so they themselves could take over. The college laundry room was a brutal place.
The following year, the campus did away with the coin-operated machines and laundry was free! What a wonderful year that was. I washed my clothes on a regular person schedule of once a week, as opposed to the college person schedule of “whenever I can find enough quarters” or the more dire “whenever I run out of underwear.” You still had to watch your laundry in case someone snaked your machine, but it wasn’t nearly as painful since it was free. That was definitely the best of my sophomore year of college.
During my junior and senior years, I lived off-campus in a house with a number of my friends. We had a washer and dryer in the basement, so I felt as though I could continue washing my clothes whenever I darn well pleased. And here, I wouldn’t have to sit and watch my clothes! How wonderful! Or so I thought…
It didn’t take long before I realized that something wasn’t quite right with the dryer. The straps on some of my tank tops looked a little singed. Odd, indeed. I kept on washing and drying my clothes like I always did, until the day that the tank top straps were practically burned in half. Some of my other clothes had rusty-looking streaks across them… what on earth was the problem?! I asked my other roommates if they’d had the same problem, and they confirmed that the dryer was destroying their clothes, as well. The clothes would get caught somewhere in the dryer, and it would proceed to BURN them. I stopped using the Dryer from Hell immediately and began dragging my laundry to my parents’ house again.
The only thing that the dryer didn’t ruin was jeans. Since the material was so much thicker than all of my other wimpy college clothes, the Hell Dryer was no match for denim. I could continue to dry my jeans, but nothing else. One day, I decide to wash my winter coat with my jeans. It was thick; it could certainly withstand the wrath of the Hell Dryer. So I tossed my red coat in the washing machine with several pairs of jeans. My red wool coat. I bet you know where this is going.
When I pulled my clothes out of the washing machine, my coat looked slightly smaller, and all my jeans had a pink tint. Yes. Because I’m an idiot, I dyed my jeans pink. I immediately called my mom to find out how to fix it. After she stopped laughing, she told me that I was more or less out of luck. I could try washing them again (without the red coat), which I did. Sadly, the second time through the wash did nothing: I was stuck with a whole bunch of purply-colored jeans.
My laundry misadventures continued into my basement apartment in Plymouth, Minnesota. James and I lived in a converted garage underneath someone’s house (thanks, Craigslist!), so we had no washer and dryer. We were banished to, horror of horrors, the laundromat, which is just about my least favorite place on earth. James and I went to the cheapest place we could find, and unfortunately, “cheap” and “scary” go hand-in-hand in laundromat world. Whenever the time came to do laundry, we brought along books and tried not to make eye contact with anybody.
|Never trust a place with dryers bigger than you.|
One evening, I was in dire need of clean pairs of jeans. James wasn’t getting home until late, and there was no way I was going to the creepy laundromat by myself. Like any logically challenged individual, I decided that I was going to wash my jeans in the shower. The shower in question had no bathtub attached… it was just a shower. You can imagine how well this turned out. I all but flooded the bathroom trying to get my jeans rinsed out. Then, there was the question of how to dry them. I squeezed all the water I could out of said jeans, but they were still sopping wet and weighed about a ton. Since I am brilliant, I thought it would be best to hang the jeans on outside. Did I mention that it was February? James came home to find three pairs of frozen jean-cicles draped on the railing. I sheepishly explained my seemingly ingenious plan, and I thought James was going to suffocate; he was laughing so hard. Turns out I’m good at making people laugh when it comes to my laundry ideas.
And now, here I am, living in my lovely Sioux Falls apartment and STILL bringing laundry home to my parents. When will I grow out of that? Not until I have a washer and dryer of my very own. A washer, I might add, that gets all the soap out of the clothes (unlike the washer in Minneapolis) and a dryer that doesn’t burn anything (Morris dryer) or leave nasty little lint particles all over your partially-dried clothing (Sioux Falls dryer). Is that really too much to ask? It’s not for lack of effort that I reverted to my parents’ laundry room; I just have high expectations that none of my laundry facilities have been able to meet. Plus, I never have enough quarters.