Like any decent husband, I do my fair share of the household chores.
I empty the dishwasher when the dishes are clean, I take out the garbage before it evolves into a life-threatening biohazard, and, when I spill macaroni and cheese on the sofa, I spray Windex on the stain without even having to be asked.
Plus I do my own laundry. The steps are simple:
1. On Sunday, scoop up everything smelly off the bedroom floor, carry it to the basement, and put it in a giant pile.
2. Cram as much of that pile as possible into the washing machine.
3. Pour in one lid-full of the bright blue goop from the large orange bottle, being careful not to accidentally drink the liquid.
4. Turn the dial to Normal, and push “go.”
5. Watch whichever episode of World’s Deadliest Warrior happens to be on Spike TV for 40 minutes until a loud buzzer goes.
6. Remove the wet stuff from the washing machine and put it all into the dryer. If you see or smell smoke, stop the dryer and clean out the lint trap thing before the house burns down.
7. Repeat the process from step one until there’s no more pile.
Like I said, easy stuff.
However, I live with a wife and two teenage daughters, who are all members of the extreme opposite female gender sex, and when it comes to their laundry, the rule in our house is clear:
I am not allowed to touch it.
And this rule is totally fine with me, because female laundry is a completely different animal than male laundry. Female laundry is a complicated business that requires a Ph.D.-level intellect, an acute awareness of the subtle differences between various fabric types (beyond basic cotton and denim, that is), and an in-depth understanding of each setting on the washer and dryer that isn’t marked “Normal.”
I don’t fully understand the entire process, but I’m an observant fellow and from a safe distance I’ve watched how it gets done. I believe the steps go something like this:
1. Walk around the house and determine which clothes need to be washed. Some garments will need cleaning; some will able to be worn again. The untrained male eye will never be able to tell which is which.
2. Move the clothing downstairs and start separating it into special piles. Sometimes you sort by colour; sometimes you sort by fabric. Sometimes there are special “sub-piles” where you sort by both. There are always unusual exceptions that make this step even more challenging than it already sounds.
3. Put one of the piles into the washing machine. Sometimes you add the blue goopy liquid; sometimes the white. Sometimes you add the little scented bead things. Sometimes the water should be hot; sometimes cold. Once in a while you use warm. Some things get pre-soaked, but only for a specified time and that time varies per garment. Be warned that the things that are considered “delicate” never seem to be the things you’d most expect.
4. Don’t take any time to watch Spike TV, as there’s always another pile to sort.
5. When the buzzer goes, remove the wet clothing from the washing machine. Sometimes it goes in the dryer, but often it goes on a rack. Despite your first instinct to the contrary, the rack is better, because even though spreading out all the clothes takes much longer than shoving them all into the dryer, you avoid the risk of choosing the wrong of dryer settings, which can be, I’m told, absolutely catastrophic. I’ve heard stories, and believe me they are not pretty.
6. Go back to step one and repeat for the entire rest of the day.
7. Oh, and the most important thing: don’t even think about touching anything that is silky, has lace, or is measured by cup size. There’s not a guy on this planet who knows exactly how any of that stuff is laundered.
I have no idea how much detergent it takes to wash these. My guess is about six cups.
At some point later, the female laundry finds its way upstairs and into little folded piles that sit on a generally unused sofa in our living room. We have a busy household and, truth be told, it’s pretty typical for clean laundry to sit on this sofa all week long.
Until this evening, that is, when I randomly decided to do my family members a solid and carry all the clean laundry upstairs to be put away into drawers and/or closets.
Loving Wife was grateful for the help, until about an hour later when the lack of folded laundry gave her a fresh, unobstructed view of our aging sofa.
Without its characteristic layer of protective clothing, it has become obvious that this sofa doesn’t really match the rest of our living room furniture, so guess what? Yours truly just got roped in to spend next weekend shopping for a new sofa.
There’s an important laundry lesson to be learned here, and I’ll definitely be thinking about it all next weekend as we go from store to store to store to store endlessly testing out couch cushions.
Personally though, I’m not too worried about finding something to match our other furniture. It shouldn’t be too hard a task. I’ll simply be looking for a sofa that looks good with a pile of folded towels and t-shirts draped over it.