Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
IRONMAN STREAK IN JEOPARDY - PART 2
In last week’s episode, I explained that my 43-year streak of never doing a load of laundry was in jeopardy. My wife had surgery and would need a month or so to recover. In the meantime, it was up to me to make sure our family had clean clothes.
What a tremendously important obligation. I had not had that kind of solemn responsibility dumped in my lap since the time almost 20 years ago when my softball team picked me to get the beer—a mere five minutes before the liquor stores closed. Everybody threw some cash into my first-basemen’s mitt (“No change, please, just dollar bills!”), and I drove away from the ballpark like Mario Andretti. I succeeded in my mission, with about 10 seconds to spare, although some of the guys were not very impressed (“Pabst? You bought Pabst?!”).
I was hoping I would never have to face that kind of pressure again in my life, but it was not to be.
At first I thought my two daughters and I could get by with the clean clothes we already owned. After all, every time I tried to store something away in one of our closets, there was never a single molecule of extra space since they are so jam packed with clothing. Each closet in my house looks like the inside of a Salvation Army collection box (including bags of trash, a litter of newborn kittens, and a guy nicknamed “Ripple” who has taken up residence there). It seemed logical that we could just wear this stuff—and finally clean out the closets at the same time (“Sorry Rip, you’ll have to find a new place to crash”)—until my wife was well.
On the other hand, if we actually did have enough clothing stuffed away in our closets to last three or four weeks, and if we piled up the soiled laundry somewhere each day—such as in the garage, or on the kitchen floor, or out on the front lawn (“Hey Rip, don’t sleep on that pile of clothes!”)—until my wife had sufficiently recovered, the shock of seeing a mountain of dirty laundry, plus the three of us standing there matter-of-factly waiting for her to begin cleaning them, would surely send her right back to the hospital with a massive heart attack.
As it turned out, we had nowhere near three weeks worth of clothing in our closets. It was more like three days worth, although for all practical purposes, it was actually three hours worth, since my darling young girls repeatedly screamed, “I can’t wear that in public! Someone might see me!”
My daughters’ problem was that 99-percent of the clothes in their closets were hopelessly out of style (“Dad, this is so 90s! Do you want everyone to laugh at me?!”). My problem was that 99-percent of the clothes in my closet were purchased back when I wasn’t auditioning for the Pillsbury Doughboy Poppin’ Fresh look-a-like contest. (There is a remarkable resemblance, although I am a bit more pale.) I’ve never been a big fan of fashion trends, but I must admit I do not approve of the “size-32-slacks-on-the-size-38-butt” look. Besides being quite unattractive and quite uncomfortable to wear, there is also the danger a burst button or exploding zipper could inflict shrapnel wounds on unsuspecting passers-by.
My next option was to wash the dirty clothes in our washing machine. I’m sure to most people this would be the obvious move. But you don’t understand. Try to envision spider monkeys being given the responsibility of operating a nuclear submarine (as, apparently, the Russian Navy tried recently). Well, that just begins to scratch the surface of what it is like when I try to use household appliances.
I finally came up with a sensible solution to our dilemma. Each evening my daughters and I dumped our dirty laundry in a local Salvation Army box (“Hi Rip, how ya been?”), and then went to the clothing stores to buy new outfits for the next day. We did this daily until my wife came home.
When my wife finally returned home, weak and tired but definitely on-the-mend, she was rather surprised and pleased to see that we were all wearing clean clothing and there were no piles of dirty laundry anywhere in sight. Unfortunately, when she was flipping through the mail and came to the MasterCard bill with all the charges from local clothing stores, we had to rush her back to the hospital with a massive heart attack.
Now I have to deal with this clean clothing problem for at least another six to eight weeks. Good thing VISA recently raised my credit limit. “C’mon girls, let’s go shopping. Daddy’s not about to let his Ironman streak be broken.”
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