Forward Living: Coming clean about washing and folding

One Saturday afternoon, my stepdaughter Angela and I were sitting at her kitchen table kibitzing about this and that. While pouring me a cup of tea, she sighed and said, “Saturday is my laundry day and I dread it. I don’t know anyone who likes to do laundry.”

“Really, Angela?” I said. “I like doing the laundry, especially the folding part. Bring it on.”

Angela eyeballed me for a long moment, then replied, “Ceil, I love you and all, so don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re weird!”

Angela excused herself and disappeared into the laundry room. She returned a few minutes later carrying two large baskets of clean laundry and plopped them down in front of me. And so it began.

Being called weird is nothing new, what with loving winter and my water drinking peculiarities. (I drink water out of a favorite glass that’s inscribed with “Spaghetti Factory.”) However, this column is not about my weirdness; it’s about my fondness for doing the laundry. But wait, maybe to some folks, the laundry thing is weird.

As the oldest of six kids, laundry became my job. Mom would sing, “Celia, you have laundry” to the tune of one of her favorite opera arias. Laundry-loving isn’t genetic, since only one of my sisters also enjoys doing laundry. Another sister can take it or leave it, while the third will go out and buy new underwear when her laundry backs up. I haven’t a clue about my brothers’ laundry predilections. Obviously, Mom wasn’t crazy about doing the laundry, either; after all, she pawned it off on me.

By the time my sons, Greg and Jeff, came along, I was well versed in laundry dos and don’ts. Moreover, folding laundry proved relaxing. As my kids grew into their teens, chaos ruled; but nothing much changed in the laundry department, except that there was more of it. Control freak that I am, I suppose seeing their clothes neatly folded gave me some semblance of order. But before they left for college, they learned to do their own laundry. Nowadays, much to the delight of my daughters-in-law, my sons don’t mind doing laundry. Hmm. Maybe it is genetic.

Back when I was gainfully employed, it was mandatory that all medical personnel wear white uniforms. Saturday mornings found me in the basement starching and ironing my uniforms. I loved the sizzling sound the iron made and the smell of starch. (OK, weird.) Gradually, the whites gave way to pastel scrubs. I still passed an iron over them, but nixed the starch.

Frank is always neatly dressed, although when we first started dating, I noticed that he always wore the same six or seven shirts.

When I suggested that we shop for new shirts he said, “Nope, got lots of shirts — some I’ve never worn. Angela buys them for Father’s Day.”

The next time I visited with Frank in Rocky Point, I peeked (well, snooped) in his bureau drawer and, sure enough, I found rows of neatly stacked shirts. After some detective work, I discovered that he never rotated his shirts. He washed his clothes once a week and placed his clean laundry on top.

When I ran this laundry article idea by Frank, he joked, “What are you gonna say about me this time?

Before I could answer, he added, “And watch it, Ceil, you’re gonna have people ringing our doorbell with baskets of laundry.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“You never know, Ceil.”

Just then, the phone rang. It was Angela inviting us over for the following weekend. After checking our calendar, I called her back.

“Angela, how’s Sunday after church?”

“Ceil, can you and Dad come on Saturday?”

“I guess.”

Even though Angela considers me weird, we enjoy a close and loving relationship. But lately, I’m getting a tad suspicious about these Saturday soirees. Methinks it has something to do with her laundry.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.