Airing My Dirty Washing 0

I did the washing. The four words you don’t want to hear from your husband. I was only

gone one day. Why would he do that? After 8 years of zero masculine activity in the

laundry, why would my husband suddenly get an urge go pop on a few loads? What

happened? Did his football team lose? Was he curious to see if he really could live

without me? Did the constant rain force him to our washing basket? Was he trying to

impress a visitor? I thought that was an understanding we have. He mows. I wash. Sure

its old fashioned. But it works for us. I know I complain about how much more housework

I do, but I certainly wasn’t expecting him to do the washing. Thats’ off limits. The washing

is my territory. I’m not being sexist. I’m being jobbist. I do it better. I like to wash the

clothes, not actually ruin them. I separate colours. I hand wash. I know what can go in

the dryer. I put underwear in a bag. I check pockets. Here’s something radical….I read

the washing instructions! I know, imagine taking advice and actually implementing it! I

know he’s done the washing because the basket is empty. And I wasn’t the one who

emptied it. My heart starts racing. I’m feeling a little nauseous. I’m hoping my mother

came for a surprise visit. Perhaps Aliens abducted my laundry? But I know thats not the

case. I’m filled with terror. You know that moment when you know all is lost? Shit! My

favourite dresses are in there. I run from my bedroom to the laundry. It’s then when I see

the tell tale signs of an aborted attempt at washing. The lid is up. Some stuff is in. Some

stuff is out. Perhaps he never proceeded? I move in for a closer inspection. Too late. He’s

done a long cycle on cold. It looks like everything I’ve ever worn made it in there. There is

a wet and mangled mess hiding at the bottom of the tub. Black jeans encircle white lace

knickers, now that creepy grey colour you never see in the ads. The hooks on my bras

have found the perfect grooves to tear at my delicates. My summer dress, once falling

loose and sensual, able to lift in a sudden breeze is now a top. Perhaps i can give it to my

8 year old to use on one of her barbies. It’s when I open the dryer that I flip. My favourite

red dress. In the dryer. Who would do that? What kind of animal puts crepe in a dryer? I

tell myself to breathe. Remind myself that I love him. That he’s trying to help. Nothing is

more poorly received than help that was never wanted in the first place. I realise I have to

confront him. It’s going to be one of those moments that challenge a marriage. He thinks

he’s done something good. For a moment I think. Should have got a labrador. At least

they can’t operate a washing machine. So I say…’did you do the washing?’ It’s

accusatory. It’s an unusual tone to ask a question of a man who’s had a crack at the

housework. He says ‘yes…’ and then kind of like he knows what went wrong he says ‘I

tried to separate the colours and stuff’. Clearly the man is colour blind. If what I saw in the

washing machine was an IQ test he wouldn’t have his doctorate. At least not in washing.

I’m a bitch. I’m angry. So I say ‘well you didn’t do very well’. This is the point when I think

maybe our marriage is over. Maybe this is it. Perhaps I’m over reacting. But I’ve lost half

my wardrobe in a man-tastrophe. Maybe this is grounds for a no fault divorce. ‘Your

honour he didn’t separate the colours, put hand washing in the machine and he put my

dress in the dryer.’ I can see the gavel come down hard ‘unreconcilable’. I want to go on

about it. And on and on and on. You know when you can’t let go. When something that

should be small becomes big and it makes you so angry you become unreasonable and

boorish in your need to tell everyone over and over. Well thats why I am writing this. I’m

still not over it. I know its not mature. It’s not meant to be. Its a tantrum. Poor John. Then I

realise. Perhaps he is a bit like a labrador after all. You know how they chew your shoe

when you go to work. I’ve been travelling a lot lately. Maybe doing my washing was his

way of saying he misses me. This machine is fully loaded. If I was you, I wouldn’t leave.’

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