If you’re even remotely self-aware, you have the opportunity to learn something about yourself every day. For instance, I’ve recently discovered that I am extremely anal as it pertains to laundry. After much consideration, I’ve decided that it’s a curse.
My wife is quite the opposite. She can throw a load in the washer and blithely continue on about her day. Try as I might to respect her technique, after the spin cycle, every moment the damp clothes remain in the idle washer, my anxiety grows more and more severe. My brain devises a convoluted narrative like: “Dylan, the clothes are down there in the dark basement, damp and alone. The wrinkles are beginning to set, Dylan. If you don’t do something, they’ll be there forever, and, when you put them on, you’ll look like a hobo. Everyone will know how neglectful you are, Dylan. Everyone!” Eventually, I’ll start to pace and whimper, and finally, I’ll cave, bolt down the steps two at a time, move the clothes to the dryer and weep, dabbing at my shameful tears with a Downy dryer sheet.
I don’t know how long the last load was moldering in the washer but, suffice to say, when I pulled it out, it contained leg warmers, acid-wash jeans and a Hypercolors tee shirt.
And my neurosis is even worse with the dryer. I need to be there when it buzzes. Sometimes I’ll even arrive before it’s done, in which case I’ll stroke the dryer and speak to it in gentle, soothing tones.
I’ve seen television shows where, during the morning rush, the father opens the dryer door, pulls out a fresh, clean shirt and puts it on. Preposterous! If my laundry remains in the dryer overnight, it comes out looking like a child’s paper mâché art project.
Which brings me to another revelation: I’m afraid of irons. I’m not afraid of injuring myself or anything, but I am simply clueless when someone puts a hot, hissing chunk of electric metal in my hands. The few times I’ve tried, I ended up ironing in more wrinkles than I removed. And my wife will attest to this, I can’t bring myself to let someone else do it for me. If I have wrinkled shirts, rather than ironing them or asking my wife to, I will gradually move down the shirt line until I find one that isn’t. I’m not above sporting a pajama top to a restaurant.
I couldn’t tell you the source of this mania, but, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s the result of the many years I spent doing my laundry at laundromats. I know many people view laundromats as a kind of purgatory, as sexy as a bus station and the sole domain of a certain economic stratum, but, back in the day, I fancied myself something of a Laudro-Master. I could wash six loads (four of which occupying the double-load machines), dry them wrinkle-free, hang the shirts on hangers and fold the rest in 75 minutes. Every time.
And I’m beginning to develop a similar science at home. For instance, when doing multiple loads, I know that for the smoothest, uninterrupted transition between washer, dryer and hanger or dresser, I must let the first load dry for 15-20 minutes before starting the next load in the washer. If this method is adhered to, there will never be a time when the washer load sits for more than 5 minutes.
For more information about how Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can benefit you, feel free to drop me a line. If I don’t get back to you right away, it’s only because I’m re-washing a load that remained in the dryer too long. (I’ve actually done this.)