By Sarah Albrecht, sitting in for Rene Allen
Given the heap of dirty clothes in the laundry room, either the kids have been mixing their stacks of clean clothes in with the dirty ones again, or science is wrong and there is such thing as spontaneous generation. Whichever is the case, laundry makes me empathize with camels. It’s something about those ponderous, shapeless burdens strapped to their backs.
Feeling like a camel requires coping strategies.
Humor helps, so several years ago I started keeping an alphabetical list of items I’ve found clunking around the t-shirts or banked against the dryer door like driftwood. I do check obviously jingling, crinkling, or bulging pockets, but, in spite of all the stuff that has come through the wash over the years, I don’t check the rest. Call it a streak of perversity, but that would be a lot of pockets. Besides, throwing all those boys’ blue jeans in the wash adds an element of risk to life. It’s not quite like bungee jumping, but it does make the heart race a titch—and my alphabetical list is almost complete.
“C”, of course, is for crayon, the red one left in my husband’s white shirt pocket after church. It ruined almost a whole batch of whites. I definitely should have checked that pocket, but who would have thought? Funny now, but it’s taken a few years for the memory to mellow. “N” is for the handful of nails my son found at a construction site. They made such a ruckus I thought the dryer was about to self-destruct. “T” is for tissue, disintegrated into fine, clingy pieces, and I have to admit guilt myself over this one.
Even the hard letters, the ones the kids agonize over finding in the alphabet game while we’re traveling—no sweat. J is for jolly rancher, although of course the washer dissolves the candy and only the wrapper makes it to the dryer. And Q? Quarter. Piece of cake. I have to make allowances for “X” and do something cheesy like “xtra.”
I made my best dryer discovery ever just a couple of months ago—letter “R.” It’s not that I always open the door with bated breath. Usually I’m in a rush and distracted, as was the case this time. I hurried into the utility room and flung open the dryer door only to find a mob of raisins waiting to stampede. Still abnormally plump from their journey through the washer, they tumbled out with bits of the snack-sized box they started out in. True, extracting the remaining raisins and box fragments from the rest of the clothes was a pain, but imagining the raisins’ journey as they rehydrated in the washer and then desiccated in the dryer seemed wildly funny to me.
One of these days the kids will be gone and I’ll add a final entry for “Z”—zero. Zero sounds sad and final. So until then? Yeah, I can deal with it.