Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Between work and performing, not much has been going on at my house but the most mundane of banalities, laundry. My husband and I have an agreement: while he completes law school, I do the breadwinning and housecleaning. Once he becomes a successful lawyer, we’ll hire a housekeeper and I’ll stay at home eating chocolate bonbons and gestating an heir. Until then, laundry is an unfortunate fact of my life.

I don’t mind doing laundry. I’ve long ago grown immune to handling smelly, sweaty clothing. Once clean, I take a peculiar joy in folding clothes. (I’ll always be thankful to the military boyfriend who taught me how to fold tshirts into perfect little squares and to Martha Stuart who taught me how to tame those pesky fitted sheets.) Like painting, however, it is the time I must spend doing the laundry that I mind. I could be spending that time doing exciting things that my blog readers might want to read about – installing a pet door, painting the kitchen cabinets, tiling a floor!

I don’t make much laundry. I spend my days in “dry clean only” clothes (that I take great care not to sweat in or otherwise dirty) and my nights in the same pair of pajamas all week. I do work out at lunch, but my exercise clothes are small and lightweight. The bulk of the laundry pile comes from the laundry-making-machine: Mike. When I grew up, we had to wear our clothes at least twice (except socks and underwear) before we could throw them in the wash. While Mike sees nothing wrong with that practice, he has problems instituting it. This is probably because he flings all of his clothing into a giant pile on his office floor and then couldn’t tell you what he wore yesterday or last month, let alone how many times. His clothes are also very BIG. He isn’t a big guy, but he wears a surfeit of jeans, courdoroy pants, sweatshirts, and cotton sweaters. Balled up, one of his outfits equals three of mine. So, adding his laundry to mine quadruples the pile, instead of only doubling it.

The simple solution would be to have Mike do his own laundry. But then the ink blots, holes, bleach stains, and funky smells that were so common on his clothing when we met would return. He doesn’t mind wearing the damaged clothes, but I mind having a husband that looks and smells like a hobo.

One great thing about having a basement is that you can turn it into one great, big laundry pile. I would love to add a laundry chute to our house, a la House in Progress. For now, our laundry chute is the basement stairs. Because Mike insists on undressing on the first floor, this is quite convenient for him (although not as convenient as the floor of whatever room he happens to be in). Now, if only I could figure out how to toss my dirties down the attic stairs, through the dining room, and then down the basement stairs, we’d have no need at all for a real chute!

Laundry is a truly Sisyphean task. As soon as I have conquered the week’s pile, another has begun to grow. I must persevere. Only two and a half more years of law school and then, chocolate bonbons here I come!


Blogger Brit said...

After four year of marriage and six years of living together I have to say the laundry thing does not get better. Scott has the same propensity to stop, drop clothes and roll on in to the computer room. Why must they undress as anywhere and everywhere? I don't know, one of the mysteries of male hood. Why are there socks inthe bottom of my bed whenever I change the sheets? How will I teach my nine month old to put his clothes in the hamper when I can't teach my 31 year old the same trick?

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, neither of you are trying hard enough. Granted, since both my parents worked, my brothers and I assumed various domestic responsibilities and outside chores. But even coming into my marriage 'trained', my wife still had to REtrain me in methodology: 'There's MY way, and the WRONG way!'

It took many years of reprimands and caustic comments to fine tune my performing mundane banalities appropriately, but we now have a smooth operation of such.

As for your 'agreement', the breadwinning part is fine, but chores should be jointly shared and often rotated. Plans and expectations fit in the category of chaos. In other words, don't count on that housekeeper just yet. Train your mates accordingly. Yes, I realize you are dealing with men - and in fact, at our house, my wife and daughter steadfastly assume the addage, 'Men are always wrong' - but your persistence in training them properly, and to expect an equal partnership, will reward you many times over.


5:22 PM  
Blogger Scott in Washington said...

You used "surfeit" in a sentence (probably with a straight face)... cool.

In regards to your "truly Sisyphean task" maybe you should try applying the same punishment Zeus 'visited' on Prometheus.

3:24 PM  
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