Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Monday, March 17, 2008

True Colors

My Mom never had The Talk with me. I had to find out by trial and error and I almost lost my socks. All in all, the first time I tried it, the results weren’t pretty.

I don’t know if it was the toddler size sweater I wore fresh from the dryer, or the “Just My Size” underwear clinging statically to my back as I strolled down the hall, but as people turned to stare and gawk, I felt like everybody knew that I’d tried it for the first time.

Dirty laundry. It’s a tough lesson to have to learn on your own.

A true friend would have told me about fabric softener. A few tips on Use and Care Instructions as a second language wouldn’t hurt either.

These days I’ve been doing laundry long enough to know how to handle my delicates, but I still have questions.

Exactly how do you wash a shirt that’s both red and white? If it says, “Wash in like colors” do you put it in with the reds or the whites? I’ve tried it both ways. Luckily pink is my favorite color, but now my husband won’t get undressed at the gym.

Deep down I understand why Mom never talked to me about natural fibers and the danger of shrinkage. But why didn’t she tell me that too much bleach would rot out the seat of your underwear like month-after-Christmas fruit? Was she afraid to tell me about laundry? Afraid that hot for whites would be too much for my tender psyche?

Not on your stain stick.

She didn’t raise four kids without honing her survival skills. The odds were good with four kids running around, that if she brought out the laundry products, somebody would be likely to try to remove the spots from the cat.

So she kept her pre-soak hidden on a high shelf and her spray starch tucked away behind the family Bible and never worried that we’d find it.

I shudder to think what would have happened to the cat if we’d found that starch.

Also, the old woman was shrewd. Except for choosing in favor of dessert and against doing dishes, I was never a decisive child. She knew that if it came to sorting cotton blends from washable wool, I’d just give up and stay home and she’d be stuck when me forever.

Why not let dirty clothes be a little secret lurking just around the coin-operated laundry?

And drycleaning just a mess that you clean up without a mop.

Smart woman.


political wife said...

Ah, the first time...I remember it so well. My baby sis on the other hand is a champ at much so, that she's considering charging her dorm-mates for a laundry tutorial when she goes away to college in the fall. LOL. At least one of us listened to Mom. (I've got laundry down too, now...but it took a lot of shrunken favorite sweaters to get that way.) :D

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady learned from an early age - man-made fabrics all the way!!
The Cowboy very occasionally decides he needs to do laundry on his own, and dumps everything together into the machine. Hot water. White T-shirts with grease-stained blue jeans. Says "it all got dirty together". Sigh.

Unknown said...

Hate to say it, Bag Lady, but I'm just like the Cowboy. Throw 'em all in the big, heavy-duty washer and let 'em fight it out!

Great post, Amy, as always!

Anonymous said...

I like my whites to stay white and colors to stay whatever color they are, so I don't usually just lump 'em all in together.

Though, let me tell ya, a legally blind chick (that would be me) doing laundry is sometimes an experience. :)