Laundry Day

February 12th, 2013 posted by W. Bruce Cameron

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cow As usual, I’m the one who was blamed for the recent family crisis, even though, as readers of this column well know, I am a sensitive and humble husband who is right pretty much 100 percent of the time. I do admit that when it comes to the system that runs the laundry at the Cameron house, I have been a tad…oblivious. By “system” I mean, of course, my wife, who takes care of washing clothes for the rest of us without complaint—until recently, as you will soon see. My oldest daughter has never mastered the tricky mechanism required to open and shut her dresser drawers, with the result that her clean laundry winds up right where my wife has stacked it—on the bed, where it tips onto the floor and mingles with the dirty clothes residing there. “I have nothing to wear!” she’ll shriek every once in awhile, despite the fact that she is standing ankle deep in her entire wardrobe. When I get tired of this ransacked condition and advise her she can’t go to a friend’s party until her room is cleaned up, ignoring her claim that “these are the most important people in my life I PROMISED I’d be there,” she’ll take care of the problem by gathering up everything and trucking it down to the laundry room, even if my wife just washed it that very day. For my youngest daughter, the issue is the competency of the laundress. “I told you that this blouse has to be washed separately,” she’ll scold. “You’re supposed to soak it in rain water and then dry it with cotton balls!” Apparently everything she owns was hand-sewn by movie stars out of butterfly silk, and my wife is constantly “ruining” things by not treating them with gentle cycles and soft murmurs. My son never gripes about clothes—as far as he is concerned, the laundry area could be converted into a video game room. He generally wears the same outfit until it becomes toxic; the EPA has been to our house twice to see if his clothing should be awarded Superfund status. Often, peering at the condition of his attire, I realize he has more dirt on him than I have in my yard. Cleaning his apparel causes the washing machine to make a grinding, gritty noise, as if sand has gotten into the bearings. Against all this, my complaint seems a pretty mild irritant: I’ve begun noticing that whatever wash cycle she is employing, my wife is causing my pants to shrink around the waist. “You’re shrinking them so bad, I can barely button them,” I grumble. “Look at this!” She regards me wearily. “Those are new pants. I haven’t even washed them yet,” she advises. “What’s your point?” I demand. Sometimes she can’t seem to stay focused. “Meaning, I couldn’t have done anything to shrink them. They came like that.” “Defective trousers?” I sputter. How much more am I supposed to endure? She pokes me lightly in the stomach. “No, they’re the right size,” she claims. “So you did shrink them!” I accuse. Now, even though all I am doing is serving in my prosecutorial capacity as the man of the family, she completely over-reacts. “You know what? You’re right. I must not know what I am doing. So from now on, everyone in the family has to wash their own clothes. I am through doing laundry!” At first I believe this is a bluff. Each of us have our family responsibilities, after all—for her not to take care of the clothes would be like me no longer bothering to decide what we will watch on television. But when, after a few days, it becomes apparent that she has no intention of calling off her unauthorized labor action, I summon the children for an emergency session of arguing over who should take over laundry duties. We decide on a system based on blame and denial. This leads to a minor disaster in which everyone’s clothing somehow becomes pink, and a demand from my children: How are you going to get Mom back in the laundry business? I don’t know, but I suspect it will involve a lot of chocolate.

W. Bruce Cameron is a national humor writer for the Scripps Howard News Service. His brand of humor can be found at or by free subscription (just drop him a line at mailto:[email protected]

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