Love is a Whirlpool

August 19, 2006|Posted in: Uncategorized

I have a secret. An obsession. I’m in love. Tra la!

We’ve been moving, he from his house and I from mine, into one happy, united abode. And when two adults are moving into a house that will also teem with not two but five children of various ages, it soon becomes apparent that there is going to be trouble — with the laundry.

In my apartment, I didn’t have a washer and dryer — I’d sacrificed them to the greedy gods at Craigslist and bid them adieu after my man got a bit of a hernia hoisting them up the back stairs (naturally, I lived on the second floor). After that, I hauled three heaping helpings of laundry down the block to his house every weekend and sorted two houses’ worth of clothes into, um, probably 14 piles.

And that was how I spent my Saturdays and Sundays, and often Mondays and Tuesdays, around work and life and all that. Washy-washy, hot water with bleach, warm water with fabric softener, cold water only. Hand wash? Not in this household. Tumble this one dry, lay that one out flat. Hang these little dainties, and avert the children’s eyes when they pass by. Do not wring or twist. Cool iron. Dry clean only (oops — too late).

I read some years ago that the more our household appliances improve and develop, ostensibly to save us time and energy, the more our workload increases. When all we had was one dress for work and maybe one for Sundays, hand-washing them wasn’t so bad, in retrospect, anyway. Back then it was a drudgery of a different sort — with lye soap and river rocks and boiling water. Fun for the skin as well as the fabric.

But now, instead of one or two dresses, we have workout wear, sports uniforms with attendant grass and dirt stains, a whole mountain of blue jeans, a wilderness of whites, a tundra of T-shirts and the aforementioned dainty bits for every person in the house. When winter rolls around, the sweaters and sweatshirts make up another mountain range on the kitchen floor.

So we were moving, and the thought of moving the washer and dryer did not appeal so much to the man of the house. And the thought of washing all those clothes in those giant piles in the creaky old washer and the noisy old dryer did not appeal to me.

The secret love affair commenced.

Sunday mornings, I’d tear through the newspaper to find the Sears ad supplement, to compare its prices to Best Buy and Home Depot. I’d gaze longingly at the front-loading water-conserving washers and the Energy Star dryers. Oh, the shining whiteness of the enamel! The gleaming chrome of the handles! The technological efficiency of the knobs and dials! I gazed and crooned under my breath, “Someday, my darling, you’ll be mine.” I guarded the paper jealously, and held it close to my person, away from the prying eyes of the cretins who share my home. They could never imagine the joys that such appliances would bring me.

The closer we got to moving day, the more apparent it became: I couldn’t live with the old washer and dryer. Merely walking past them made me unreasonably angry and tearful. “I hate them! I just can’t take this anymore,” I wept. My man took pity (or gave in).

In a trice, I was in my car, speeding to the nearest Sears store. I walked directly to the appliance department and there they were: the perfectly matched set. Their sheen and aura beckoned me closer. A saleswoman, a veritable handmaiden to these rare beauties, stuffed a queen-sized comforter into the sweet mouth of the front-loading washer. My knees buckled. She indicated the special locking compartments for detergent and other unguents. Oh, the knobs, the buttons and the buzzers, how they thrilled my fingertips.

The attendant then showed me the special drying rack that fits into the dryer. No more clunking, banging tennis shoes going round and round! No more the snag and fuzz of sweaters in a tangle! I leaned my face against the cool enamel shell and a tear trickled down my cheek. I had to have them.

In another trice, they were mine.

A few days more, and my lovelies arrived at the new house. The footmen arrived and, unabashed by their task, tore away the protective cardboard coverings. There, naked, glittering and pristine as virgin glacial ice, my washer and dryer sat awaiting my touch. I gazed on them as a bride adores her wedding cake, nay, her very husband, her own precious firstborn. The gentlemen carefully trundled these gifts into my laundry room, and left me, alone, to behold the treasures I had sought.

In the silence of the still and empty house, I knelt before the circular glass door. I tugged and it opened. I placed first one, then another, towel into the opening, until the creature would hold no more. I clicked, flicked and pressed, and my lovely purred to life. I leaned against the machine and hummed softly to myself. My life is utterly fulfilled now, I thought.

It was the start of something very, very beautiful.

Advice to Aspiring Writers: Sex sells.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

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