Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Mathematics of Laundry

With four people in the house, including a grubby preschooler, we have to do a load of laundry about every other day. Laundry in Mexico is interesting, at least my version, because we have no dryer, so everything goes on the clothesline for my over-analysis of whether it has been cleaned to a worthwhile state.

And I am the only one who does laundry--the sole portal through which all filth must pass, which drives me to some puzzling conclusions about what happens with laundry.

I'm not talking about the lost sock syndrome over which so much has been written. It's everything else that winds up on the clothesline. Like the other day, after hanging it all up, I tried adding it all up. Why was it that Genevieve's only piece of clothing drying on the line was her giant green tank top that she wears as a mini-dress, accompanied by eight pairs of underpants? Am I to believe that, over the course of two days, all she wore was a saggy tank top and four pairs of underpants per day? It seems unlikely and uncomfortable.

Then there's Steve who, in this hot weather, seems to enjoy wearing two or three black T-shirts per day, no pants, and an extraordinary number of socks that I do not even bother to match up.

Max is more predictable. Lots and lots of pajamas and shorts, but no shirts. I know his habits, loving to jump into pjs as soon as possible, alternating from this routine only to wrench on his too-small Ninja costume to see if it has magically enlarged to accommodate him in the past week. He, too, seems to wear a lot of underpants, if the clothesline tells no lies.

This is what I am left to wonder, is if the clothesline is just an abstract symbol, representing the chaos theory of our weekly lives, whittled down to the essentials, the socks, the underpants, whereas the embellishments, the hand-knit sweater great grandma made in the sixties, the light-as-dandelion-spores shirt I bought in the market, get sucked into the black hole of the laundry that will never be washed, never worn again. My dirty laundry broadcasts my failures--no, that's too strong of a word--my never-realized intentions. But maybe that's okay? I mean, it's just laundry.


Xerography Debt said...

I've noticed something similar when folding the laundry. I also have to do the wash about every other day with the three of us and all the animals. I wonder how is it that my pile is so small? Have I been forgetting to change my clothes?

Garnet also loves pajamas and when I work from home often declines the invitation to get dressed. I figure he has the right to stay in pjs for as long as he wants.

Serena said...

I'm glad to know that it's not just me. And yay to the pjs all day revolution. Jenny and I always said that we would hate living at a nudist colony, but we wouldn't mind a giant t-shirt colony.

Xerography Debt said...

I think I would like a community that endorsed fluffy robes all the time. Sometimes I force myself to get dressed, only to put the robe back on top of my clothes.

D. A. Rupprecht said...

I find here in South Africa that clothes don't ever get dry in winter. I suppose in Oaxaca you don't have that problem, it's tropical?

Serena said...

Hey, D.A., I'll be laundry in South Africa is a bit of an adventure, too.

Oaxaca city is pretty dry until rainy season hits. Then, you have to be prepared to rip your clothes off the line at 3:59, because the downpour usually comes at 4:00 on the dot, ending by 6:30 or so at the latest. In these cases, I wash the night before, let the stuff sit in the washer all night, and place clothes as early as possible on the line in hopes that they dry by 3:59.

Jeannie said...

Cute! What a fun post.

I'm gonna try wearing 4 pairs of undies at one time tomorrow and see where it gets me. Although, I have so much laundry to do I'd be hard pressed to find 4 clean pairs. :)