Posts Tagged ‘socks’

Making Assumptions

September 21, 2011

I found a sock in the laundry room.

It was a woman’s sock, ankle high with a black and white argyle pattern. I found it wet and clinging to the inside of the washer when I started to load my clothes in.

Naturally I removed it. Then I contemplated what to do next.

Two of the dryers were engaged. Was it possible that this lone sock belonged in one of them—that its mate was tumbling dry alone?

Yes, I thought it was possible.

Should I open one of the dryer doors and toss in the sock? That would be easy to do. The sock’s owner would be none the wiser. In fact, putting the stray sock in the dryer might be a good deed. Unless…

…Unless I picked the wrong dryer.

It was possible that the sock belonged to the person whose clothes were in the dryer. It might even be likely. But it wasn’t certain.

If my assumption turned out to be incorrect, I would have made things worse not better.

I placed the wet sock on the folding table in the laundry room, finished loading my clothes into the washer, started the wash cycle and left.

When I returned to fetch my clothes from the washer, all the dryers were empty and the argyle sock was gone.

Did the person who picked up the sock also empty the dryers?

It’s possible. It might even be likely. But I’m not prepared to make that assumption.

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Laundry Day #13

August 16, 2011

Inventory:

Sheets: 6
Pillowcases: 10
Towels: 5
Socks: 8
Underwear: 19

Temperature: Hot

Cost: $6

What have we learned?

Guests came to stay and now I’m washing their laundry. Well, not their laundry precisely, but the laundry left here after they departed: three times my usual load of sheets, pillowcases and towels. Plus socks and underwear—ours, not theirs—because they required a hot-water wash and this was a big one.

If you consider laundry to be drudgery, the thought of washing things soiled by others would only add to your displeasure. I don’t see things that way. Providing overnight guests with clean sheets and towels, and a comfortable place to use them, is part of my role as a host. I wouldn’t object to preparing and serving a meal for company, nor to cleaning up afterward. Why should laundry be different?

Laundry says you’re welcome. The sheets will be clean for you anytime you want to come and stay.

Laundry Day #12

April 8, 2011

Inventory:

Shirts: 15
Pants: 4
Pajamas: 2
Socks: 36
Underwear: 6
Tablecloths: 2
Napkins: 5
Dishtowels: 8

Temperature: Warm

Cost: $4.75

What have we learned?

There is so much laundry hanging in the bathroom to dry it has created its own microclimate. Outdoors it’s cold and damp. In the living room the air is dry. In the bathroom, hot and humid.

Today’s wash was darks: jeans and T-shirts with a separate load for tablecloths, cloth napkins and dishtowels that are now tumbling around in the dryer with the socks and underwear, creating yet another microclimate.

The calendar might insist that it’s spring, but laundry tells another story entirely.

Matchless

March 7, 2011

I lost a sock.

In the catalog of life’s disappointments this registers somewhere above breaking the point off a favorite pencil and far below stepping in gum. Yet, I am disappointed.

I liked the socks formerly known as a pair: brown and white striped body reaching just above the ankle and a solid brown heel and toe for accents. Although I’d owned them for years—possibly as many as ten—they were in good condition, their elastic still stretchy, their soles free of holes. I own many pairs of socks (probably more than I should, really) but I wore these frequently. Now they’re gone.

Well, not they exactly, but he…it…one. I couldn’t even say which, for socks are interchangeable in that way. First left, then right—the ultimate in apolitical. Socks don’t mind which feet they cover—not like shoes, which will tell you right off if you’ve put them on in a way they simply do not wish to be worn.

It would have been possible for a neighbor, upon finding my stray sock in the washer or dryer (for I do believe the sock disappeared in the laundry room) to tack it to the bulletin board beside the other matchless socks. I might have seen it there and taken it back. (It would be highly unlikely, but incredibly exciting, if my sock ended up here.)

But no one found my sock, or if someone did, he or she probably tossed it in the trash. I’m certain no one would have mistaken my sock for her own.

There will be other socks, but none quite like this one.

Laundry Day #10

February 2, 2011

Inventory:

Shirts: 12
Pants: 7
Pajamas: 2
Shorts: 2
Socks: 18
Underwear: 6

Temperature: Warm

Cost: $3.25

What have we learned?

It’s February. The weather forecast calls for “icy conditions with periods of freezing rain.” So why am I washing shorts?

You might think it has something to do with going to a gym or exercising, but then you don’t know me very well. These were shorts for relaxing in the sun. I just returned from a long weekend away where the weather was balmy, my sandals came out to play and my coat stayed in the closet.

Then, you might well ask, why the pants and socks? And indeed, why the long-sleeved pajamas? I confess they were laundry leftovers from before I went away. My plans to empty the laundry hamper completely before my trip were waylaid. Still, I left myself enough room for the vacation duds, shorts and all. Now they’re back where they belong waiting for spring, and so am I.

Confirmation

June 18, 2010

When you work at home by yourself it’s easy to lose perspective. Certain things—laundry, for instance—can take on inflated importance in your life, absorbing so much of your attention that you forget other people might not place quite as much focus on them as you do.

Once you’re aware of this, the inverse (or is it the converse?) becomes true: You begin to assume that the things that occupy your attention—laundry, for instance—are of little interest to others.

Reassurance comes with confirmation—a serendipitous moment when you discover that there are others who see the world (or at least one tiny corner of it) the way you do. It came for me on pages 53 and 54 of the Random House trade paperback edition of Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart, when the character Misha, a wealthy Russian, describes living with his middle-class girlfriend in New York City:

At first I insisted that a professional laundress wash our socks and underwear, but Rouenna taught me there was something simple, methodical, and pleasing about doing it yourself. She taught me all about temperatures and detergents and how to treat “delicates.” … I’ll always associate self-laundered socks with democracy and the primacy of the middle class.

It’s a mistake to assume that everything in a novelist’s work is autobiographical. Writers of fiction make stuff up—that’s what they’re supposed to do. But in this case I want to believe that Gary Shteyngart experienced some sort of epiphany during the drying cycle one day, filed it away in his mind and rekindled it on the page. What I do know is this: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Washin’ in the Rain

April 26, 2010

Rainy days are tricky for laundry. If you hang yours out in the yard to dry, the dilemma is clear. Yet even if you use an electric dryer you might still have a sense that the laundry isn’t entirely dry, particularly if it’s been raining for a few days and everything seems to be a bit damp indoors and out.

Nevertheless I did my laundry on this rainy day—the second of what looks to be a string of them. Now I feel all cozy inside.

There’s a big pile of freshly dried laundry waiting for me, and T-shirts and pants hanging on the drying rack for later. If I’m feeling ambitious I might take out the ironing board or sew on a stray button, but it’s more likely that I’ll put a good movie on the TV, fold the towels, pair up the socks and smooth out the sheets.

When things look gloomy outside, laundry helps you focus inward.

Laundry Day #6

April 10, 2010

Inventory:

Sheets: 2
Pillowcases: 4
Towels: 5
Pants: 7
Shirts: 12
Undershirts: 3
Underwear: 23
Socks: 32

Temperature: Hot/Warm

Cost: $6.25

What have we learned?

It’s been a while since I did the wash.

I will confess that I don’t document every Laundry Day here. (How much laundry could one reader stand? I think I’m already testing that limit.) I also don’t write about every Laundry Day on the day it occurs, although I do present them chronologically. Nevertheless, it has been more than two weeks since my last Laundry Day post, and the lag has been about the same in real time.

Laundry reminds you when you’re slacking. The hamper overflows; your favorite items of clothing are unavailable (unless you’re willing to wear them wrinkled or less-than-fresh); you’re down to the few pairs of underwear and socks that you’d prefer not to share with others.

At first, you might approach these conditions with a sense of abandon. “Who cares about the laundry?” you think. “I’ll get to it when I get to it. I’m too busy/tired/stressed out/inert to give this my attention.”

That attitude might serve you for a while, but eventually it will be superseded by a sense that you’re not meeting your obligations.

The dirty laundry seems to tsk-tsk at you each time you walk past. “What? More?” it sniffs as you toss another soiled shirt on the pile. “There’s thermal underwear at the bottom here, you know, and we’re well into spring. Are you ever going to take care of this?”

The answer, you realize, must be “Yes, I am.” For the sooner you attend to the laundry, the sooner you regain authority over your life.

When it’s washed and dried you can toss it on the sofa beside you and attend to it while you watch television or listen to music or talk on the phone. Laundry doesn’t mind. All it wants is a little notice and care, and it will repay you with a sense of well-being; it will wrap you in warmth and softness and you’ll feel better for having given it your attention.

Laundry appreciates your attention.

To Everything There is a Season

April 7, 2010

We mark the passing of the seasons through laundry: Socks turns from black to white and back again; sleeves grow longer then shorter then longer again; fabrics shed weight and texture, then fatten up.

Bright colored T-shirts and (in a month or so) sleeveless blouses drip dry from the shower rod. There are the requisite black Ts of course, but they hang alongside melon, lime, and raspberry—the flavors of the season. Pumpkin, red, and gold would seem incongruous now.

Everything takes a little longer to dry now that the heat has been turned off, but the air around the laundry rack is cool and moist, and the scent of fabric softener creates the illusion of having my own clothesline in the sun. If I close my eyes I can picture the fabric rippling in the breeze. And in the morning, the day seems brighter when I’m greeted by a drawer full of freshly laundered clothes.

Like the food we eat, the clothes we wear—and launder—change with the seasons.

Laundry is in sync with nature.

Laundry Day #3

March 7, 2010

Inventory:

Sheets: 2
Pillowcases: 2
Towels: 5
Pants: 3
Shirts: 14
Pajamas: 1
Underwear: 18
Undershirts: 3
Socks: 43

Temperature: Warm/Hot

Cost: $5.00

What have we learned?

Optimism is sometimes rewarded.

The sock that went missing recently turned up in today’s laundry. No doubt it was languishing in the hamper waiting for its turn in the wash cycle. It has now been reunited with its mate.

I’m not by nature an optimistic person. Far from it, in fact. Yet I’m attempting to retrain myself to expect better from myself and for myself, and to appreciate the little pluses—sometimes very little pluses—that occur from time to time.

Recovering a stray sock might seem insignificant, but it’s something. Like finding a penny on the ground when you’re walking down the street. On its own it’s not worth much at all, but find enough and they add up.