the case of the pink streaked heap

there, there, don’t you feel better already about your monday morning?
bet you didn’t find a heap like this piled on your basement floor over the weekend. my disaster, friends, is your dodged bullet. i offer up my misery in the aim of making your monday just a little bit, um, rosier.
you can now whistle your way through washday monday, with a wee little laundry chip on your shoulder. you can feel smug even. you can think: dang good thing at my house we know how to do the laundry. good thing at my house we’ve got “no trespassing” signs plastered all over the dryer. no interloper of exotic hue would think of sneaking in the wash at my house. otherwise we’d be left like that pathetic chick who forgot to check the pockets.
here’s the sorry tale:
it started out a saturday with slender shred of hope for turning things around. the rains had stopped. the long, sad week was over. i thought i’d spin a load or two, make sure the little soccer dude was not sans shorts–again. nothin’ to it; i do some hundred loads a week. or so it seems.
i had no inkling what was lurking in the not-so-soggy wash.
until i opened the dryer door, reached my hand in the dark black drum, i was clueless.
oh, how quickly clueless crumbles.
rather like the red crayon that took a ride, round and round and round, in the hot, so-hot-it-could-melt-you-if-you-were-a-crayon dryer insides.
that little crayon must have thought it was at the carnival, don’t you think. squealing, laughing, tossing round and round. must have thought it was really funny as it banged, mightily and often, into the little bundle formerly known as my undies. must have let out quite a scream as it skidded over the now-pink black dog t-shirt, the brooks brothers boxers–tee hee, i can hear it now–the socks, the socks, the sweatshirt and the little gray sweatpants that started it all.
there is a pocket in those size 5-6 sweatpants. a little pocket. not big enough to hold anything much bigger than, well, a half a crayon. a half a red crayon even.
good thing these days i always have a camera at the ready, otherwise i might have wept when i pulled the first handful of dried, caked-on pink with streaks of bloody red from the dryer. the more i pulled, the more my eyes grew wide. then wet. oh lord, i cried, in the middle of an otherwise mild-mannered morning.
you know how your brain doesn’t quite click click click all the time? like, say, when you are holding red-streaked undies, thinking what the heck? but then, this little flicker of a brain wave shakes itself from slumber, shouts in your other ear, yo, mama, remember the other day, when your blessed mother tapped on office door, shoved cupped hand through door ajar, showed off red waxed specimen, said something to effect of, “honey, look what i found in the laundry. that would have been a disaster.”
cluck, cluck. oh, yes, a disaster, you remember saying swiftly, as you turned your eyeballs back to the keyboard before you.
eek. it dawns on you: you are, standing here in cool dark pink-streaked basement, deep in the middle of aforementioned disaster. you stick your head in the dryer, and you see that you now have a pink dryer drum.
you realize that that red crayon you saw the other day was only the half of it. its twin took quite a tumble.
you go berserk. you call your very smart neighbor, thinking maybe she too has tried to dry a crayon. with poor results.
you get, instead, her husband. he’s a guy who spends his life designing something called artificial intelligence. maybe he’s the guy for you. he, intelligent man, artificially intelligent man, tells you to google it. this reminds you that the time you had the bats flying all about your belfry, he and your loyal bat-fighting husband cowered in front of the computer, bike helmets on their heads, tennis rackets at the ready, googling “bats, how to chase away.”
oh well. what’s to lose. you google “crayon in dryer.” poof. you get the word. congratulations, lady, you have just scored one of the top seven laundry disasters.
your computer tells you so.
hmm. they recommend wd-40, which last you checked had something to do with squeaky wheels, or at least you think so, since you’ve never really used it.
you toddle off to the neighborhood hardware store, an old-fashioned place with workers who seem to have faced every disaster in the books and always have a fine idea for how to fix things.
you tell the nice lady behind the counter why you’re there. she shakes her head. she goes to get her brother in the back. he too shakes his head. but he adds this: “horrible. horribly bad.”
he says never mind the wd-40. what you need, lady, is floor stripper.
huh? floor stripper in my all-pink dryer? you think this is slipping fast into the toxic waste dump of your life. you picture yourself descending to the cellar in puffy spacesuit, the kind they wear when clearing noxious poisons in the filmstrips about what to do in case of nuclear spill.
the nice man insists. you, dutiful, take home your stripper. and a pair of pink rubber gloves. going with the color theme, of course.
you are deep inside the dryer drum. the hot dryer drum, mind you, inhaling noxious stripper, rubbing hard, when suddenly you hear little feet stomping up above. the little one and his papa are home from saturday morning t-ball. they let you know that they are back. they ask what you are doing in the basement.
you tell them that a crayon, it seems, crept into the dryer.
the little one, sounding jolly, even proud, shouts back: “that red crayon was mine!”
how, you ask, did it wind up in the laundry?
“oh, it just fell in my pocket,” he says nonchalantly, as if kindergarten is a place where art supplies take flying leaps all day. dive-bomb into pockets, small dark places where mothers on the move might not think to look.
and so, you spend the next two hours stripping crayon out of your dryer drum. because it’s a beautiful saturday morning. and you can think of nowhere you’d rather be than with your head stuck in a dryer, getting dizzy as you rub.
the pink laundry, you soaked and soaked. you sprayed and soaked some more. you ditched the undies. you now own your teenage son’s fine pink black-dog t-shirt. and the boxers? except for lasting bits of crayola red, polka dots to remind you of the day you forgot to check the pockets, they are resting comfortably in the bottom of a drawer.
and you, head cleared, are recommending this: keep on hand a quart of floor stripper, for you never know what lurks at the bottom of a pocket.

moral of the story: hmm, you tell me. or rather, just tell your favorite laundry disaster tale. or perhaps you’d rather talk about 101 ways to put floor stripper to good use. have at it.

a very very special birthday to a little angel turning four.

and it’s monday, check the lazy susan. she spins anew.