My husband has a strange affliction: he’s physically unable to complete a load of laundry. Surely, someone somewhere has categorized this terrible disease, given it a kingdom or phylum or Latin-sounding name in the name of science.
Don’t get me wrong; he’s great about starting the wash. Especially if it happens to be a load of his own clothes. Where he breaks down is in the physical moving of the laundry from washer to dryer. A day or two later, I’ll discover his load of laundry molding in the washer.
There’s another way this disease manifests. Even if Ken has promised (come hell or high water) to put away the clothes after I wash (and dry) them, he cannot. That’s right! His physical ailment impairs him from doing so. I don’t know how or when this disease struck my able-bodied husband, nor do I want to shock you with news of how often he suffers these flare-ups. But suffer he does.
Case in point: our recent trip to California. We returned from visiting the in-laws a little over a week ago, at which point I did an emergency three loads of laundry to get us through the week. When those loads were dry, I placed one pile of clean, not-very-wrinkled adult shirts on the edge of the bed for Ken to hang up and put away. Let me tell you that this went against all my ad hoc rules for what clean laundry sits in what laundry bin, where, but I was feeling a little generous that day and thought, hell, let the guy live a little and have a few clean shirts that don’t look like they’ve been slept in. Plus (evil cackle), I’d decided to do a little experiment and see who would put away the laundry first.
I usually give in first when it comes to this kind of thing, but for once, I decided to put on my game face and see which of us would cave first. A straight-away opened before us, and I was pretty sure I could take him. I adjusted my helmet and buckled up.
For the first two days, we both pretended the pile of shirts wasn’t there. At bedtime, we pulled the comforter away from the contested area, then nudged the sheets aside with our feet. When the enemy wasn’t looking, I stole glances in his direction. What untold evil plans lay behind that quiet facade?
By day three, I was running out of reserves. My backup team had failed to arrived, and I was beginning to question where and when I might ever find the finish line. In a moment of weakness, I broke down and confessed–told my dearest one that I was playing chicken with the laundry and, yes, damn it, I was going to write about it! In between tears, my hands flew to my mouth to keep me from spilling any more trademark secrets.
Oh, dear reader, what do you think my dear husband did? That’s right. He laughed.
I crawled into bed, mortified by what I’d done. How did I ever expect to win an invisible game of chicken if I couldn’t even keep a secret? A chess master, I clearly wasn’t. A two-year-old (Me, me, me! Want, want, want!) trapped in a 40-year-body, absolutely.
But wait. The next evening, after another taxing day of reload and repeat, Ken smiled at me before bedtime.
“What?” I asked. “Do I have toothpaste on my face?”
He shook his head. “Notice anything?”
I looked around the room. The usual stacks of books, paper and laundry cluttered the floor, the bed was rumpled (don’t even get me started on a man’s inability to make a bed, much less keep the octopus-like sheets that are constantly threatening to strangle me), and my work-out clothes were lying on the edge of the bed, where I’d left them. “No.”
“I put away the laundry!”
I looked at him in shock. “Thank you,” I sputtered.
Once the lights were out, a dawning sense of dread slowly began to settle in. This could mean only one thing. I might have won Level 1 of Laundry Chicken, but would I be able to maintain my drive and strength when it came to Level 2? Or would I (shudder) have to break down and put away the still-full suitcases choking our front hallway?
Tune in next week for Suitcase Chicken! Guaranteed suspense, horror and romance!