I’ve recently instituted a new policy here at the hovel. It’s called “Do your own freakin’ laundry!” This is a policy that I feel is self-explanatory, in that the title of the policy and the actual policy are one and the same.
If my was objective was to be obtuse, I could have used a tactic employed by governments the world over and called it something like “Revised Guidelines Regarding the Division of Labor in Relation to the Agitator-driven and Gas-generated Hot Air-blowing Machineries Located in the Basement Act of 2013”. (Be it duly noted that the RGRDLRAGHALBA, will replace the GRDLRAGHALBA, enacted the 4th day of November, 1989, which placed sole responsibility for those machineries located in the basement squarely on the shoulders of the female head of household). I could understand, had I engaged in this kind of obfuscation, why the members of my household might be confused by the new policy.
I did no such thing. To be fair, I neither consulted any of the folks that would be adversely affected by the institution of this new policy prior to enacting it nor were they given anything even remotely resembling “plenty of notice”. Unlike the government, which at least pretends at something called democracy, here at the hovel we make no such claims to democratic rule. It’s a straight up dictatorship. Sure, we aim for benevolence, but it’s not required.
I realize that I’m generously calling it a policy, rather than what it truly is — an edict. I am doing this in an effort to seem a little more, well, benevolent. Because, really, nobody likes a bitch. Further, no one has any sympathy for a lazy bitch. So, let me just assure you that this new policy does not stem from outright laziness on my part, rather the enactment of this policy was designed to light a fire under Fangette. Much like her father, who thinks that gourmet meals, such as grilled cheese and soup, just make themselves, Fangette has been operating (for quite some time) under the delusion that I enjoy spending my days hunting and gathering. More specifically, hunting for whatever item of clothing she has misplaced, but that she desperately needs in the immediate future, and gathering together that and other items, so that I can then spend untold hours of my days, weeks, and months, laundering those things that I have managed to unearth from the atrocity that is her bedroom floor. Just last week I spent close to an hour trying to uncover where in that black hole one very important (to her) lacy ecru camisole had gotten itself to. Ultimately, with a little detective work and the employment of my trusty flashlight, I was able to uncover the mystery of the missing lacy ecru camisole. It was under her bed, wedged between the never-opened telescope from the Christmas of 2008 and some outdated and, more than likely, incomplete board games. (Anyone up for a rousing game of Candyland?)
That, ladies and gentlemen, was it. My dustbunny covered self decided right then and there that she, at almost 17 years old, was capable of doing her own laundry. (I also found myself wishing that the skills I have acquired throughout my many years of diving under beds and couches, rifling through discarded gym bags, and ferreting through closets to uncover lost belongings were more marketable!) When I advised Fangette of my decision to stop doing her laundry, one would have thought that I had asked her to take the old washboard off of the kitchen wall, haul her dirty clothes out back to the creek (really it’s more of a stream, but a body of water is a body of water) and bang her clothes against it with a rock. That was not my expectation at all. I reminded her that we have machines that do that sort of thing now. And that all that was required of her was that she take it down the stairs and throw it in said machinery. Believe me, she knows this. She’s a smart kid. She’s been watching me do it for years.
Thus far the peasantry, as I have come to think of Fangette, has resisted The Laundry Edict of 2013. I’m fairly certain she didn’t take it seriously — until last night, that is. Last night she came in from work and pitched an absolute fit because she had no clean clothes. A fit, mind you, that I valiantly chose to ignore. Mainly because that’s just the type of behavior one comes to expect of us lazy bitches and also because it was after 11 PM and, really, who wants to engage an angry adolescent on the heels of her five-hour movie theater concession stand shift who is in a snit about laundry? Not me, I can tell you that. Ultimately, though, the slamming of drawers and banging of doors became too much for poor old Fang who was, at this point, threatening to get out of bed and “take care of this nonsense”.
Rather than listen to the two of them duke it out (metaphorically, of course — this is, after all, a non-violent authoritarian regime), I rolled out of bed to have a “talk” with Fangette. It went rather well, considering the lateness of the hour and the mood of the participants. She made her usual circular arguments regarding her busy life (school, work, social media commitments — okay, I added that last one, but still); I listened patiently, but stuck to my guns — explaining, once again, that a large part of growing up entails being responsible for, among other things, one’s own personal hygiene, which includes clean jeans and sports bras. There were some jabs as to whether or not I had been the best role model and, I’ll admit, I haven’t always been the poster child for cleanliness and organization, but no one in this house has ever gone out into the world wrinkled or unclean on my watch.
I left the conversation feeling like we had reached an agreement about more than just laundry. Further, we had done so calmly and in a reasonable manner. I was convinced that at least for a short while she would cooperate by obeying the edict, which gave me hope for greater things like, for example, a more harmonious household. What I didn’t count on was the possum.
Yeah. You read that correctly, the possum. Or opposum. I have no idea if there is a scientific difference between a possum and an opposum or whether the difference is just semantics. Here’s what I do know: A possum forced the repeal of The Laundry Edict of 2013. And, it’s all my husband’s fault.
Don’t misunderstand me, he had nothing to do with my coming face-to-face with the beady-eyed creature outside of the laundry room. Okay, maybe it was more like snout-to-shin — it wasn’t some genetically-engineered giant possum for heaven’s sakes. He can’t be blamed for the existence of the possum of the driveway or the fact that I nearly had a heart attack outside of the laundry room. No. It’s what he did with his knowledge of the possum in the backyard that ultimately led to my daughter’s adamant refusal to make use of the laundry facilities.
Listen, I get it. There’s very little that’s funnier than telling the story of your wife being surprised by the unexpected appearance of a possum. If the shoe was on the other foot and he had been the one to stumble across the possum armed only with a blue plastic Ikea bag full of clean laundry, you can bet the farm that I would have run, at something resembling world record pace, to get to my phone so that I could tell the story to whomever I could get on the horn. Once I’d stopped laughing my ass off, that is.
I was trying my best to keep him quiet, so as not to alert Fangette, who was in her room, supposedly studying. (Well, at least she hustled off there on that premise when I had asked for her help with dinner earlier! For all I know she’s heading up a black market gun-running operation in that hot mess she lives in.) Fangette has an uncanny ability to appear in those exact moments when she is not wanted. Tonight would prove to be no different. She burst into the living room and demanded to know what was so funny. Fangette almost never quietly appears in a room; she also rarely makes polite requests.
I attempted to play it off, to distract her with the promise of some succulent Thai chicken — to no avail. As for Fang, well, he was just obliviously ignoring my signals. He was, in fact, behaving as if he had never seen the “Shhhhh!” sign in his life.
And, honestly, he may not know what the “Shhhhh!” sign means. I don’t know what he did in school. Slept? Daydreamed? He claims to have had near-perfect attendance, which I can believe because it has carried over into his work life — Fang is one of those infuriating coworkers who almost never misses a day of work. He’s the guy that has to be told to go home when he’s sick. He’s not punctual, necessarily, but he’s reliable in that everyone knows that he will, eventually, appear at his desk. Fang is one of those people who gets points for showing up, but not necessarily for paying attention.
It’s often shocking to me what he doesn’t know. One of his favorite retorts when I am exasperated with his lack of basic knowledge on almost any subject is “if that’s true, then every little school boy would know it”. I have spent countless hours explaining to him that most little school boys do, indeed, know things like where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (Ford’s Theater), where the Revolutionary War began (Lexington and Concord), and what Einstein is famous for (The Theory of Relativity). He is neither stupid nor was he poorly educated, he just doesn’t pay a stick of attention. I often find myself in situations where we will go to, say, a restaurant. He often says things like, “Wow! This place is great. How come we haven’t been here before?”, which leads me to enumerate not only the number of times we have been there before, but other relevant things regarding the venue, such as, which menu items we previously enjoyed and with whom we enjoyed them. Seriously. This is what I’m up against.
Not surprisingly, Fang missed the “Shhhhh!” sign, the dagger eyes I was pointing at him, and the finger across the throat that, I think, universally signifies “shut the fuck up already!”. Fang would never make it out alive in a clandestine operation. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Fang spilled the beans about the possum. Fangette took this information and used it to her advantage. She pounced on it like the possum would have pounced on me had it not been for the giant bag of clean laundry that I very quickly managed to put between my leg and its teeth. I’ll bet you didn’t know that possums had razor-like teeth, did you? I didn’t. Generally speaking, when I think of possums I envision cute little furry things hanging by their furry striped tails somewhere deep inside of the forest while smiling. That’s right. They’re just happily hanging around. I blame this on children’s books and their infuriating need to anthropomorphize dangerous critters. And, really, it’s my own fault, given that most of my knowledge of aardvarks has been gleaned from reading or watching episodes of “Arthur”. I’ll bet, in nature, aardvarks don’t hang around with rabbits or bears and haven’t learned lessons of tolerance from rats.
As a result of my near-miss with the possum and my husband’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Fangette will not be venturing out to the laundry room any time soon. I hold out hope that she will, at the very least, hunt for and gather up her own clothing. I just pray that she never sees a mouse under her bed. Because if she does, whatever clothing winds up there will remain there forever. Because I won’t be going under there either. On the bright side, the mice could always use whatever discarded clothing items they find to make Cinderella a new frock.