Thursday, June 26, 2008
The Only Washboards I Want Near Me Are of the Abs Variety by Jenny Gardiner
[I wanted to be sure I had something to post this week but ran out of time to write something brand new, so I’m using something I wrote for my newspaper column this past winter but ended up not using. So sure, it’s 100• in the shade now, not 10• as stated below. But you get the drift…]
Damn that planned obsolescence. Curse that mentality of keep-the-economy-pumping-by-building-products-that-won't-last-so-that-poor-slobs-like-us-have-to-shell-out-big-bucks-when-least-expected-to-replace-lousy-appliances.
I’m feeling a bit domestically-compromised. As if I’ve been bounced back to an episode of Little House on the Prairie, a show I’ve never once longed to see, let alone live.
You see, over the weekend, not one but two appliances I’ve grown used to over the years decided to fail me. My weekend plans did not involve the death of appliances. It involved focusing on writing deadlines. Period. Instead I had a stovetop almost explode (thus rendering it unusable) and a dryer almost catch fire (thus rendering it unusable and leaving my middle daughter's pink laundry reeking of smoke).
“Okay,” I thought. “We’ll just call the repairman out here, it’ll be fine.”
Only the repairman doesn’t even answer the phone, let alone come out for emergency house-is-going-to-blow-up-if-I-use-my-cooktop service calls. So the weekend lapsed as I probed my memory to figure out what I could fix for meals that didn’t involve a burner and pots and pans. While I was trying to come up with creative ways to cook pasta, yet another appliance choked, gasped, and keeled over.
"The dryer broke," I told my son. I figured he'd grunt, recognize that meant "wear your jeans more than once before throwing them down the laundry chute" and that was that. Instead, my son, who's currently reading Thoreau's Walden and longing for the good old days in which human beings went without, said only, "Good."
I raise my eyebrows. "Huh?"
"Less energy drain. Better for the world."
Obviously he's not the one trying to fend through cobwebs in the basement to find places to drape a hundred soggy socks, a mountain of dripping bathtowels, and all that winter snow gear that might now dry by March.
Youngest daughter--who's happy to wash her clothes on a timely basis but hasn't quite gotten the idea of wrinkle-avoidance--kindly told me she'd done a load and spread all the clothes out to dry.
This morning I realized her clothes-scattering technique wasn't quite up to snuff. Shirts meant to hang were balled up on a drying rack, shoved in, on and around other wet things so that nothing would dry, but rather comfort one another in their spun-dry solace.
Did you ever notice that laundry looks worse when it's drip-dried? And if my family even thinks for one minute that I'll be pulling out that old relic, the iron, to compensate for that fresh-from-the-washer wrinkled mess, they're nuts. Once we were staying with a relative in Africa, and when his housekeeper washed my khakis and ironed the dirt stains into my brand new khakis I got a little bummed. Until it was explained to me that when they hang clothes out to dry, bugs lay larvae on them, and if they aren’t ironed, the larvae embed in your skin and eventually out pop creepy crawly things. From your skin! Now that would make me iron. But little else would.
Oh, and did I mention that we're in a town in which there is one--count 'em, ONE--person who can repair these products? A man who returns phone calls at the leisurely pace of a 90-year old one-legged retiree walking a golf course in 100° heat.
Note to able-bodied people with manual dexterity: desperate need for appliance repair people along the Eastern Seaboard. Yes, indeed. You’re more likely to get a quick appointment with a highly-trained medical specialist than you will one with someone who can fix a Maytag. I’m thinking it’s best to actually plan your appliance break-downs so you can have your appointment at the ready.
Now, I'm sorely tempted to get out my husband's toolbox and start trying to figure things out myself. If it didn't involve potential explosions and fire, in fact, I'd be doing that about now. Oh, that and the fact that I am incapable of following directions and would have failed a simple physics test had I ever taken the class, which I’ve avoided up to this point in my life. I still don't get how telephones work, so forget about stovetops and clothes dryers.
I guess I’d better just be glad I’ve got electricity in general, and stop whining about those major appliance failures. Never mind about that the trunk-load of groceries I bought, all for meals involving use of a stovetop. Never mind that I'm relegated to grilling outside. In 10° temperatures.
And I’ll try to pretend that I haven’t noticed how unevenly my oven heats and that my washing machine is making an ominous squeak.
I think I'll get back to those writing deadlines.