Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Did The Washer Eat My Socks?

Washing machines are enough to make a person believe in the supernatural.  Did you ever wonder how you can put 5 pairs of socks into its bowels and retrieve only 3 1/2?  And how about all those extra pieces of ‘little people’ clothing that mysteriously find their way into your dryer? To be fair other moms are probably washing some of my children’s clothes.

It only seems fair to me that if the machine requires a diet of socks as well as electricity to maintain its life, then the manufacturers should list that information in its specifications.  Perhaps then my husband would know I’m not purposefully trying to make his life miserable by losing half of his socks.  The least it could do is take the entire pair rather than just one sock from each set I sacrifice to its gluttony.

The up side to these phenomena is the children’s clothing that strangely materializes out of thin air.  I know my children’s friends don’t leave my home naked.  They always appear to be fully covered when they depart after a day of play.  So where do these extra garments come from?  My children always deny any knowledge of who the true owner of these extra items might be.  They’re more than willing to believe the machine made them.  But they also believe in unicorns and fairies too. 

Looking at the situation philosophically, I should be thrilled that the vagaries of the washer provide lots of interesting coffee klatch stories.  At one such meeting I suggested that each of us put lost and found boxes on our front porches.  This way we could all mix and match our offspring’s outfits whenever we stopped by for a visit.  We could experience the pleasure of shopping without having to pay the piper.  The idea generated a lot of enthusiasm. 

Perhaps washing machines are really produced by fairy godmothers.  Having witnessed the price of children’s clothing these godmothers have taken pity and created a device that turns socks into kids wear.  Something like turning straw into gold.  Not a bad trade.  Now if I could just get my washer to produce designer brands. . . 

My husband may never get all his socks back but what we save on the purchase of children’s clothing will more than compensate him for new ones.  I wonder why Ripley’s ‘believe it or not’ has never picked up on this story.

From “Life At My House” by Bonnie Phelps.  First published in 1989 as part of a column I wrote for several California newspapers.

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