White Towels, High Heat

“Mom, what are you doing?” my daughter asks.

 I am kneeling in the upstairs hall, peering through the viewfinder of our SLR camera, taking photos of the laundry hanging over the foyer railing.  

“I’m taking pictures for my blog. I’m going to write about the laundry.”


“Right,” she says. She heads back into her bedroom, shutting the door quietly behind her. I couldn’t see her face, but I imagine she’s wearing that wide-eyed expression she pulls when she’s concluded that I am just plain weird.


Maybe my timing isn’t optimum. She has a friend over.


A few minutes prior, I had walked up our spiral front stairway and been met with a wall of damp white bath towels, ten in all. The girls hang them over the railing to dry after they’ve had a shower. Teenage girls require a minimum of two tent-size towels per shower and often another one thrown on the floor for good measure.


Heavy white cotton covered the railing from end to end, not an optimum look for the grand entrance to our house, but more than that: what I saw was not towels, but laundry. Heavy laundry, two loads. This is Friday night, mind you, 8 PM, my tired time. I had a romantic comedy in mind. Kevin Costner, who is way more fun to tangle with than ten pounds of one hundred per cent supima hygro cotton loops.


The kids might as well have just dumped the towels directly on my shoulders.


At least they hang them up and they’re not in a heap on the bathroom floor. Be grateful for small mercies, I tell myself.


And then it strikes me. The error in my thinking. These are just towels. No one is demanding that I wash them this instant. No one even cares, except me. If I dumped them in a heap on the girls’ bathroom floor, they probably wouldn’t even notice, so why am I getting so bent out of shape? I am the one who is the goddess-of-all-things-laundry, after all. They didn’t anoint me with that title. I did.


And that’s all it takes. The weight lifts, the pang of resentment skitters back to its dark cave. I smile, dash to the laundry room and flip the dials: Super. Hot. Heavy. Not really a bad way to spend a Friday night (given that I am married with two kids).  


I mean it is not that difficult, for heaven’s sakes. It is not as though I have to beat the towels against a rock or worry about frying them in the dryer like a pair of cotton pants. I can write a post or read a couple of chapters while I’m waiting for the wash cycle to finish. Besides, I love a basket of warm, freshly folded towels.


I skip upstairs and grab the camera, start clicking away. When I’m done, I gather up an armload and carry it off to the washing machine. Once the cycle is underway, I sit down at my computer with one last towel on my lap.


Tumble dry delicate the label says. Huh. And to think I’ve been cooking them on high-heat cotton setting all these years. 

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