Even Sapir, Jerusalem
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003 http://adamkhan.net/rambles/i-love-laundry
here it lies, within my big wicker laundry hamper, awaiting processing. True, there are some disorderly aspects to my laundry life. Items which don’t smell enough to merit washing are piled up outside the hamper, a messy and slightly distressing arrangement, representing as they do to me a disorderly life. But let us also leave them, just as I do, for we are dealing here with the laundry, not the out-of-the-laundry.
Ah how pleasing it is to have mine own washing machine. When I moved into this new place, a washing machine was even more urgent than a refrigerator. My Mum, as she is so good at doing, found me a used one for about $100, and arranged its delivery. There it sits in the bathroom, its top covered for added decoration by a zebra-patterned black-and-white towel, which, come to think of it, she also got. If I was a proud man I’d erase this whole entry right now.
I got no dryer. Although I love gadgets, I prefer small ones with magical functions, and to me a dryer seems superfluous, merely a speeding-up of what will happen anyway by letting nature take its course. Besides, I don’t know where I’d put it, and I don’t fancy a skyscraper in the bathroom by stacking it on top of the washing machine, losing what is now fabricked counter-top space. [Update 6.5 years later, Sunday, April 4th, 2010: I did get a dryer (also found by my Mum on the Ra’anana list) and used it as a divider between the kitchen and living area and it was great.]
Now, the laundry hamper fits strategically in the spot between the bedroom and the bathroom, convenient therefore to both fill and empty. To empty, it is simply dragged a foot or two into the bathroom, and we commence loading. The smell of the washing powder is strong and therefore quite evocative; without any particular memory dominating, it nonetheless brings back all the places I’ve lived. The cycle has begun!
Although I like quiet, I find the noise of the washing machine reassuring. Whereas the fridge is quieter, it’s annoying because I never know when it is going to click on. The washing machine, though, is reassurance that I am maintaining the cycles of domesticity. Perhaps that’s why women tend to detest laundry; it reminds them that after all this time, they are still doing the bloody laundry. But for me, and possibly for other males, it is an exercise in independence, which is but a step away from freedom. Strange, eh? For men laundry can suggest freedom, for women, captivity.
So yes, the sound of the washing machine means that my home is indeed getting the modicum of manual intervention it requires from me. If all isn’t right with the world, not even in my world, at least the laundry cycle is functioning.
Then, when the machine’s role is over, I must mildly exercise my stunted time management muscles and evacuate the soggy clothes from the machine before they sit too long, otherwise they go smelly and I must run the cycle again, a pointless waste. This does happen occasionally. But let us be done with such unpleasantness, and move along to the next stage: the transfer of items from machine to washing line!
For this express purpose I purchased a sturdy plastic creamy yellow laundry basket from Keter, the inexpensive Israeli domestic plastic products company whose stock I would recommend if it’s public. This goes on the floor in front of the washing machine, and the mass is pulled out and by dint of gravity falls into place.
And now to the piece de resistance: I carry the basket to the kitchen window and place it outside on the window ledge. Then I go out the house, around the side, and there is my laundry line, complete with basket next to it, ready to be placed. I don’t know why but I love this part. First, it’s an incredibly picturesque spot. All I hear are the birds chirping, and there is no one around, and just a view of the hills of Aminadav Forest in the background and the grape vine in the foreground. Sometimes I prepare a cup of tea for this clothes-hanging ceremonial, though I haven’t yet learned to hold the cup and place the laundry at the same time, and it’s unlikely I ever will.
There are few things I find more peaceful and tranquil and mildly exciting than this activity. Perhaps riding the bus from the long-term airport car park to the departure terminal providing I have arrived in plenty of time? No, that mixture is very different, less peaceful, more exciting. Getting into the car for a nice, relatively long journey, complete with a fresh set of tunes in the MP3 player and a hot beverage? Again, a bit higher on the excitement, and a bit more abstract, because the laying of the laundry is very sense-oriented. You’ve got the wetness, and of course, the smell of cleaned textiles contrasting with the smell of outside.
Removing the dry items from the line is unfortunately an anti-climax, less exciting than placing them, but the cycle does hold in store one more pleasure that is more than mere epilogue: ironing.
I seldom bother ironing trousers, but I find unironed shirts rather contemptible, and I always iron mine. The ironing board is pulled out of its ingenious storing space — stuffed into the gap between the fridge and the wall — and the iron, a Black & Decker I’ve had for about ten years now, is also extracted from its garage, unwrapped, and plugged into the industrial-looking transformer, as we’re not in Illinois anymore.
Many claim to detest ironing whereas I like the notion of searing hot metal smoothing damp wrinkled fabric. I also find bare-chested ironing to be macho. Maybe it was the TV ad that got to me, for Lee jeans I think it was, but still, the ad was merely tapping into a feeling that is already there. It’s like how I used to wear pink in high school: I thought it was very macho, proving I had no qualms about hints of cross-dressing — though I realize now that I am not quite macho-looking enough to get away with it, and people thought I was a homo.
Indeed, I’ve even offered to iron guests’ shirts, though neither my Dad nor Juan Carlos took me up on this strange and confusing offer.