I think about it all the time. I do it several times a week. I really want to do it every day. Everybody I know does it.
It’s dirty laundry and it’s in my face constantly.
I suffer from a kind of laundry phobia. Forget that adage about seeing the glass half empty or half full. To me, an empty laundry basket is reason to feel happiness. Joy. A sense of accomplishment. But it is always fleeting.
I know there’s others out there like me. But we remain silent in our shame.
I was talking to a friend who who confindently told me , “I did every single scrap of laundry. Clothes. Sheets. Towels. The bath mat. Everything.”
I didn’t want to hear this. My hand started to tighten around the receiver and I started wrapping the cord around and around. My knuckles were getting white.
I looked at my pile in the corner that must be, easily, three loads.
She works full-time, I work part-time.
How was it she was able to get every blasted load done and I wasn’t? Who did she think she was, June Cleaver? Did she do her laundry in pearls and high heels, too?
My daughter’s voice echoed in my head.
“You extremely need to do laundry. I have nothing.”
How could I allow it to pile up like that? What kind of mother was I? I was incompetent. Negligent. A total loser.
Sometimes I could get away without doing it by going to the store and just buying whatever it was we needed, like underwear or towels. Financially, it just wasn’t practical and it only gave me more laundry, so forget that.
The machines are just a few feet from my door. What was my problem?
The laundry police would find out about me, come into my apartment, observe the offending piles and question me.
Playing a game of Good Cop/Bad Cop, Bad Cop would say, “How many are in the household?”
“Just me and my daughter.”
He’d shake his head in utter disgust.
“But she’s a teenager,” I’d plead. “ She uses a towel once to wipe her face and throws it on the floor. She puts clothes on and decides to wear something else and heaves them in the corner! … I never know what’s clean or dirty…” my voice would trail off.
“Just the facts, Ma’am,” Bad Cop would say, like Joe Friday. He’d have that monotone voice along with the shoulders that never move.
Good Cop would look at me sympathetically and say, “I have teenagers, its tough.”
Bad Cop – “It’s not even sorted – you had no intention of doing it.”
I would hang my head in shame.
“And what’s that basket over there?”
“They’re clean towels. I haven’t had a chance to fold them yet.”
Bad Cop would fold his arms over his chest, shaking his head.
Even Good Cop would have to admit there was no hope for me.
“We gotta take you in.”
I’d go before the judge.
“All right! I admit it! I’m a laundry failure! I hate it and I don’t wanna do it! I’m a no good, detergent-challenged, rinse-cycle fearing, non-folding failure!.”
I’d break into tears and try to offer an explanation.
“I used to like it better when I used liquid fabric softener. But I could never catch the rinse cycle.. and now I have dryer sheets and they’re just not the same! I hate laundry! I despise its very existence!
People in the courtroom, all conquering laundry pros, would stare at me.
“Take her away,” the judge would say, throwing the book, or in this case, the box of detergent at me.
It would be all over. But someday, I know, I’ll be reunited with that great big pile in the sky of all those lost socks and everything will be okay.