Tales From the Fatherhood: Why the laundry can be so frightening

Thankfully, of all the things this existence can throw at you, not many can send me scurrying for the crawlspace. That short list includes, an impending dentist appointment, the thought of seeing any of my portly, middle-aged neighbors naked, and the sight of an overflowing laundry hamper.

My theory has always been the reason Target keeps selling new clothes is so you don’t have to wash the stuff you already have.

Since my lovely and longsuffering wife embraced the time commitment being a teacher implicitly involves, I’ve been trying to relieve her burden by helping out around the house. I tell her it’s a sign of my undying love, but the truth is something closer to wanting to stave off the kind of fatigue that encourages celibacy to rear its ugly head.

But before I was allowed within ten feet of the top loader, I had to endure the kind of mental boot camp and competency check that you’d expect from a major intelligence agency. For some strange reason, she seems to think that you can’t wash everything in the same gigantic load.

laundryPersonally, I think it’s great fun to fill the LG to the brim, stand back, and just as the high speed spin cycle sets in, start yelling, “Captain! I can’t hold her together – she’s gonna blow,” in your best Commander Montgomery Scott brogue.

But I digress.

So with my wife’s reluctant assent, I’ve been doing the laundry for the past year. And I can tell you with utter certainty, the first time you miss an errant piece of Kleenex, you realize just how important it is to check your children’s pants pockets.

How that diaphanous material manages to make it through the washer is one of life’s great mysteries. But rest assured, the second it hits the dryer, it turns into something right out of a bad science fiction movie. Think about it! If anyone could ever unleash a cloud of statically charged Kleenex particles against an advancing army, it would completely incapacitate them.

With that hard-earned lesson well in hand, I diligently went through all the applicable front pockets before embarking upon what would turn out to be yesterday’s laundry adventure.

But, before we continue, please let me state that whoever came up with cargo shorts has got to be a harbinger of the Antichrist. They have at least 347 pockets, compartments and zippers in which scheming teenage boys can conceal a variety of nefarious instruments that can turn laundry day into the 29th installment of Nightmare on Elm Street.

In this case, it was a purple ballpoint pen.

Just to taunt me, the device saved its payload for the dryer where it went off like a bag of dye on a hapless bank robber. Forget about black holes, what I wanna know is, how that bleepin’ little tube can possibly hold the amount of ink required to do the kind of damage I saw when I opened that dryer door. Harold’s purple crayon couldn’t wreak that kind of havoc.

The irony, of course, is, whenever I use a Bic for its intended purpose, trying to coax that dark fluid out of it is not unlike trying to coax a Kardashian to come off camera.

Of course, my first course of action was to go into a complete panic which, considering the situation, didn’t take all that much effort. Some of my wife’s favorite hard-to-find work clothes were in that load and I really do enjoy breathing.

The next step was to avail myself of the Internet’s readily available ink removal advice which certainly didn’t help my deteriorating state of mind. My God! I haven’t seen that much contradictory information since Fox News and MSNBC covered the same event.

Hot water, coldwater, don’t use hairspray, use hairspray, use vinegar, don’t use bleach, use bleach and so forth and so on.

Completely confused, I started calling all the mothers of boys I knew because girls would never do something as silly as leaving pen in their pants pocket. But even though they’d all been through the same scenario, they couldn’t remember what the specific remedy was..

Finally settling on hairspray and rubbing alcohol, I dashed off to Walgreens to purchase those countermeasures.

About ten minutes into spraying every single clothing bound ink spot I could find, I knew exactly how the guy who puts that little plastic tip on shoelaces must feel. Twenty-five minutes and three-quarters of a can of Suave Extra Hold later and every last stain had been saturated.

While I allowed that to steep, it was time to turn to the dryer drum which looked a lot like the hide of a purple leopard. Thankfully, the Net’s counsel of applying rubbing alcohol and letting it sit, worked like a charm. Though I will say there’s nothing quite like inhaling a generous dose of isopropyl fumes as you wipe down the inside of your dryer. The ensuing stupor reminded of what it was like to sit through all those county board meetings.

Between the pervasive alcohol odor and the lingering scent of cheap hairspray, my anxiety quickly shifted from “my wife’s gonna kill me for ruining her work clothes,” to, “my wife’s gonna kill me for hiring a five dollar hooker.” And she’d probably wonder what the heck we were doing in the laundry room.

Just when I thought my impending doom was a foregone conclusion, after setting the washer to “obliterate,” with one eye shut, I pulled out the reworked load and was shocked to see that 80 percent of the ink had vanished! After a third attempt, I’d actually managed to save all but one article of clothing.

So let’s add up just what I’ve learned from all this:

1. Check every bleepin’ pants pocket even if it takes two hours to effectively search a pair of cargo shorts.

2. Hairspray gets ink stains out of clothes which is particularly interesting information for a guy who hasn’t had much use for that product.

3. Rubbing alcohol is amazingly adept at getting ink off a dryer drum – as long as you don’t pass out in the process.

4. Killing your children really isn’t an option. As a good friend frequently repeats, “I love my children – I hate jail.”

5. After one more explosive pen, celibacy might not be all that bad!

Erma Bombeck! Eat your bleepin’ heart out!

2 thoughts on “Tales From the Fatherhood: Why the laundry can be so frightening

  1. Yes Jeff…dah…you have to check ALL pockets and cargo pants are the worse. Never had and ink explosion, BUT over the last 40 years of doing laundry day in and day out, I have accumulated at least $300+ The best is when you find a $20 bill…bingo!

  2. I didn’t have an “explosion”, but I did find a pen in a pocket of a pair of shorts when I took them out of the dryer. Thought everything looked okay, but the following week I realized there are small streaks/spots on some of my clothes. Looked in the dryer and found a little blob of ink on the back. It’s basically solid when the dryer is off, but must soften when it heats up. Gotta get that out of there before the next round. And yes, I do the laundry in our house and have for years. Hadn’t heard about the hairspray — but I did learn about hydrogen peroxide and dish detergent for red wine.

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