April 6, 2020

The Horror of Laundry

• By John F. Chisholm •

I don’t like thinking of myself as a procrastinator. There’s so much to do on any farm that those who put off until tomorrow what could be done today soon discover themselves sunk in an ever-deepening morass. Those undone tasks add up with light speed. I know. When my wife and I moved onto this farm thirty-two years ago, that was the situation. We knew going into the purchase that there was a huge backlog ahead of us. We still underestimated what it would take. Drastically. In fact, looking back on everything required, it took more than anyone could imagine, correcting all those issues.

Nonetheless and even with that experience, there are certain tasks that I put off, not just until tomorrow, but for as long as possible. ‘Never’ has a nice ring to it in their regard.

After rebuilding this farm, what could that possibly be?

Laundry is the example that springs to mind. It’s certainly on my death-is-preferable list. I don’t merely procrastinate doing it, I avoid, evade and wear the same clothes twice in order to put off washing a single load.

Don’t call me inexperienced. Of course I’ve done laundry before. Where else could I have contracted this lasting, deep-seated aversion?

Before moving here, I imagined my repugnance was directed toward coin-operated laundromats. Alas! It took only one, at-home load to show me that error. Because we do have a washer-dryer combination on the premises here. They’re all hooked up and ready to go.

I stay out of that room as much as possible. I’m told that the units are perfectly safe and serviceable. Never mind. I don’t even care to be in their proximity. Using them is my definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

There’s something about heavy, drenched fabrics knotted around a washing machine agitator that does more than repel me. It revolts me. To the core. In fact the mere thought of touching that slimy, detergent-soaked bolus is more than I can bear.

Remember, too, that my wife and I raised two children. Cleaning up after them wasn’t always pleasant, clean or even healthy. All that was nothing compared to washing their laundry. Wendy bailed me out there. Yes, I’m well aware just how much I owe her.

Today, the biggest problem comes when my wife leaves on trips. Laundry becomes an issue quickly. She leaves careful, written instructions on separating colors, adding the proper amount of detergent, using the correct wash cycles with the exact water temperatures needed for each material thrown in on top. Ha! I purchase new, clean, underwear, T-shirts and dungarees to last the requisite period until her return. Then I dream up other, far more pressing tasks ― like getting the septic tank pumped or mucking out the sheep pen ― to do instead. Perhaps my tractors need greasing. Is there a motor requiring rebuilding? Time I replaced that section of rotted sill, isn’t it? And so on until my wife comes back to discover two weeks of laundry waiting.

She doesn’t like that. Who can blame her?

Not me, that’s for certain.

The last time that happened, she glared and called me, “A procrastinator.”

That hurt, I won’t deny it. Still, putting off all that laundry until her return was the smart thing to do. In truth, it was the only thing. I was busy with hundreds of other tasks. Really. It’s not as though there was nothing to do. I promise, I wasn’t idle.

Still, I don’t like thinking of myself as a procrastinator. But laundry is a task to be avoided at all costs. Putting it off isn’t really procrastination. No.

It’s survival.