I was fuming. I spend a lot of my time fuming. Because of my husband. Know what I mean?
You don’t pay attention, I say.
When I fume, he does too and the cause of it, from what I gather, is this:
You pay too much attention, he says.
Neither of us is right, but both of us have our reasons. Reasons are a big problem in this house, but they usually get rinsed out in the wash.
Except lately, I haven’t been doing his wash for him. I don’t know how or why. I just stopped. He has the most clothes, wearable and unwearable, the most laundry, washed and unwashed, of anyone in the house. I think one has to do with the other.
My reasoning goes like this. Perhaps because he hasn’t – oh, in the last 13 years – had a weekly face-to-face with his laundry pile, he unduly cherishes his wardrobe, and unduly dismisses the meticulous task of caring for clothes.
Can I donate this to the rag pile, he says.
Trying to be helpful, he holds up a single pair of old socks.
Just throw them away, I instruct. He doesn’t like to give away worn out or outgrown clothes, and you know how I feel about that. He likes to buy new ones. I noticed last week he was sporting a handsome new sweater of a dense weave.
I picked it up while I was at the mall, he says.
I have a judgmental eye for those kinds of things. A judgmental eye for all kinds of things. I see that his old sweaters are stretched out and threadbare, but they are still crowding his drawers and closet. Still filling the hamper with to-dos.
Are you doing your laundry, I say.
He’s put a small load in on Sunday before I could start the heavy lifting. A few important things along with the new sweater.
Let me put it in the dryer, he says.
He is being responsible, cheery, chastened after one of my harangues. Washer cleared, I start my own load. About 30 minutes later, I open up the dryer to empty out his stuff. One glance at the surviving swatch of sweater and I turn it inside out to read the label he hadn’t.
Hand wash cold, it says.
Only some of you know what unexpected encouragement I took in finding those three words. Those three little words. Not because of what they meant about him: that he hadn’t paid attention, but because of what they meant to me: to take heart and keep going. To keep washing, drying, rinsing, and writing. To have faith, because I now have a new sweater that fits me perfectly!
It only cost $25, he says.