Today it finally happened. It was about 7:30 PM and I was putting the umpteenth pair of pajamas away; I glanced down at the laundry basket and realized that I was finished. That’s right (I hope you are sitting down): finished. Every shred of fabric* that we own, every t-shirt, every pillow case, every pair of pants, was washed, dried, folded, and put away (*with the exception of the bathmat, but I don’t think that really counts).
It has taken me six and a half years to accomplish this goal. After Tall was born, I quickly learned that Laundry is a competitive sport, one that requires hours of dedication, daily training, and relentless focus. And what, pray tell, happens if you dare to take a day off from the regime (pansy)? You will be regretting that (unfortunate) choice for days to come. There are no second chances in Laundry World: a lapse produces infinitely more clothing to wash and (somehow) less time to do it.
I had gotten myself into a nice little rhythm with some longer endurance-building stretches of Laundry (12 or 13 hours) interspersed with quick sprints (a simple load of whites here, a half-cycle of delicates there), but then Short joined our family along with his 26 suitcases full of doll-sized clothing. He instantly threw my system into a tailspin; it has taken me a full four years to recover (long enough to earn a college degree, majoring in—you guessed it—Laundry Sciences).
So back to today. I was tucking those StarWars jammies into their proper location (which would be the dresser, not, as popular opinion might have it, the laundry room floor), when there was a loud knocking, almost commotion if you will, at the front door.
You know what comes next: two men in dark neatly-tailored suits and Ray-Ban’s were waiting for me on the front porch with a limo in the background. I smiled at them. They smiled back at me. I immediately noticed that the younger one was holding a large trophy.
“Miss MOV?” began the older one (he seemed like he was in charge), “You know who we are, right? and why we’re here?”
I felt myself trembling; this was the stuff of urban legends. I had rehearsed this scene in my head a million times before, but now that it was finally here, I froze.
“I…. I….I….” I stammered, “I think I know why. I’ve read about you, or someone told me about you, or I had a dream about you, I can’t remember exactly, but, uh, yes, I know all about you.”
The two men looked at each other, pleased. The older one got out a camera. The younger one leaned in to me and said admiringly, “We would like to present you with this Laundry Dedication Trophy for completing ALL of your family’s laundry! People with children say it can’t be done, but you have proven them wrong, Miss MOV,” and then, “you should be very proud of yourself.”
I reached out tentatively for the trophy, which was shimmering under the porch light. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Would I be considered a braggart if I permanently exhibited it on the fireplace mantle? Should I have a special display case made for it, maybe one with mirrors on the back of the interior?
“Wow,” I managed to utter, and then once I could speak coherently again, I added, “I mean, wow.” I inspected the heavy trophy a little more closely. Now I could see that it was a gold trophy of a washer and dryer, intricately designed with little tiny knobs for spin cycle. My heart swelled with pride. I wiped away a tear.
The camera flashed and I immediately became self-conscious: this photo would probably be on the front page of tomorrow's paper. I automatically adjusted my (freshly laundered) baseball hat.
"That’s not all,” said the younger one, winking. He reached in his pocket and produced a beautiful large award medal on a thick red ribbon, similar to the ones worn by actual Olympic athletes, only instead of Olympic rings embossed on the front, there was a picture of a stray sock. “Here is your Special Laundry Medal. You've earned it.”
I leaned forward and let the man put the medal around my neck. Appropriate music was playing somewhere (I think it was the theme song for “Rocky”), confetti was falling, and doves were flying around in formation. This was truly My Moment, and I was basking in the full glory of it.
The older man shook my hand and murmured, “It’s been an honor,” and then he and his comrade and their lovely limo vanished into the cool gray dusk.
Almost on cue, a beat-up pick-up truck pulled up in front of the house, and Tall and The Husband got out. Tall looked especially grungy after his soccer game.
“I scored three goals, Mom!” he beamed. “Ugh, I feel itchy.” He started stripping off his uniform right then and there on the front porch. “Here ya go, Mom, I need you to wash these right away for tomorrow’s game.”
NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO-NO, don’t do that here, not now, stop! My mind was spinning.
Seconds later, the limo returned. I gulped: I was afraid this might happen.
The Husband looked at the black limo, and then back at me. “What's going on?” he demanded, his voice suddenly urgent. “And what are you holding?” he said, noticing my trophy for the first time.
“Yeah,” chimed in Tall, “and what is that shiny thing around your neck?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” I shook my head forlornly.
The older gentleman in the suit walked toward me. He frowned. “I need those back,” he said simply.
I couldn't bear the thought of being disqualified. I begged desperately, my voice beginning to take on an unappealing screechiness. “But……but.... I mean….. I don’t think the uniform should count!”
"Oh, it doesn’t,” he said coolly, as he snatched the trophy out of my hands. “We found out about the bathmat.”
(“Mom’s Ostensible Victory”)