Have you heard the tragic story of the little girl who was accidentally killed when she hid in the dryer and her unknowing mother scorched and tumble-fried her with the load of cottons? I heard this story from my own mother, one of the most mild-mannered and honest people I know. However, at some point I did start wondering if it was all a scare tactic to keep me and my younger brother out of the enticing mini-amusement park ride which beckoned to us from our own laundry room.
It worked, this scare tactic. I’ve always had an abiding respect for the dryer and his sister, the washer. They are the most noble of all appliances. They are the Prince and Princess of Utilitaria, that most practical territory of our lives. They reign because, “Life is Dirty.” It needs a cosmic google capacity, mega-heavy duty washer. (Feel free to insert your own profound metaphors here; e.g., a unit that only washes in blood, etc.)
So what happens when Prince or Princess breaks down? Well, life gets even dirtier. I learned this amid a month of personal chaos, in which we moved across town, my son totalled his car, and my hyper-competitive husband started his own business. Princess Washer going bouncing-off-the-walls psycho on me was just the icing on the cake – or should I say, “the fabric softener in the rinse cycle?” Of course, I blamed the Big Three events for my even more sleepless than usual sleepless life. After a month of hand-washing, borrowing friends’ washers, and trips to the laundromat, we finally got around to having Psycho Princess diagnosed. Our friend, Kelly, successfully exorcised her demons, and I’m wondering how to go about petitioning that he someday be named the Patron Saint of Utilitaria. Princess has been redeemed from Psycho Princess Purgatory, and that means that I have been, too, I guess.
Upon her redemption, amid a bizarrely euphoric laundry binge, I realized that I’d misdiagnosed my own inner spin cycle. I had wrongly believed that my angst stemmed only from the move, the wreck and the business. Rather, it was probably because I hadn’t been able to do the laundry! Never again will I underestimate the cathartic sorting and cycling, folding and putting up of laundry. And I’ve discovered an anecdote to tell my own children: “When Mommy starts stressing, bring her a pile of laundry to fold.”