I’ve always been the laundry guy in our house.
I’m good at it (even though it’s not that difficult), and I actually kinda like it. I wash copious amounts of clothes and dry them, leaving them in a big pile by the dryer. At that point, I turn on a good movie or a football game and mindlessly fold enough clothes to outfit everyone in Toledo.
But lately, laundry has become, well, complicated.
It used to be simple. When the big pile of clothes was waiting to be folded, I could do a simple scan, Terminator-like, of the piece of clothing, and determine which pile it went:
ME: To the towel pile.
SCAN: Bama shirt.
ME: Is it pink?
ME: Would it fit on our dachshund?
ME: Allie’s pile.
SCAN: 43 shiny black pants from Chico’s.
ME: Wife’s pile.
SCAN: Sock that is kinda grey and has what appears to be a crab stuck to it.
ME: Parker’s pile.
And so it went. I would dutifully scan through the laundry, processing each piece into distinct piles. I would then put up my clothes and the towels, and leave the other piles for the other owners to put up, which inevitably resulted in me saying something like, “Well, I’d love to take you to the birthday party, but not until you put your clothes in the dresser.” Usually, my wife eventually gets to go to the birthday party.
I kid. It was usually the kids who made it sound as if putting up clothes was like asking them to do a surgical swap of the dogs’ brains.
Of course, once we got into the groove where everything worked nicely in laundry land, nature decided to intervene. And it has everything to do with having a teenager in the house.
I will sit with the pile of laundry, and some parts are easy:
SCAN: It’s a Superman shirt.
ME: Fit on a Dachshund?
SCAN: Not unless it’s a really big Dachshund.
ME: My pile.
SCAN: Avengers shirt.
ME: Parker’s pile.
And then this happens:
SCAN: Black and white striped shirt.
SCAN: Adult woman size.
ME: But, our daughter is now taller than my wife…
SCAN: OVERLOAD. OVERLOAD
Yes, my wife and daughter now wear the same sized clothes, and I have tried a few times to correctly place them in the right categories, which invariably results in a morning of getting ready where my wife and daughter are explaining to me why they can’t wear each other’s clothes. Forgive me, but there is no reason I should know that my wife does not, in fact, have a middle school soccer jersey.
And, of course, there is one category of clothing that I don’t even try to guess what goes where. There is just a big pile of unmentionables in the floor. I tell my wife and daughter, “Yeah, y’all sort this out. I’m going to watch YouTube videos of football highlights and try to block this all out.”
As I knew this was inevitable, I have begun to bring in others to the laundry efforts. Mainly, that is my daughter, who is in charge of her clothes. She is responsible for putting them in the washer, and then running the wash a second time when she forgets they are there for two days, which you find out by opening the washer and having that sour smell of wet clothes that have sat in a closed up drum for 48 hours. It usually only take a couple of tries to get them to the dryer, at which point, with almost minimal (read: constant) prodding they are folded and put up.
I am sure I will get this all worked out eventually, and the laundry will be a breeze once again. I’m guessing it’s when both kids are off to college.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., where he lives with his wife and two kids. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at scmgibbons@gmail or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.