There’s brilliant book of short stories that Steve Martin wrote in the 70s called Cruel Shoes. I fell in love with the bizarre title story in about fifth grade, which essentially began and ended with the same thought: “Well, that’s every shoe in the place. Unless, of course, you’d like to try...the cruel shoes.”
Thalia owns a pair of pants known as The Crazy Pants. And that Steve Martin line echoes in my head every time we’ve scraped her drawers for the last vestiges of something clean and presentable and are left with this stupid pair of green and raspberry tropical print, flared leggings that I bought in a momentary state of delusion, coerced by an expiring credit from a store I generally despise.
Well, that’s every pair in your drawer, Thalia. Unless, of course, you want to try…the crazy pants.
Friday, after two long weeks of no laundry, we were down to the crazy pants.
Saturday we were down to digging her jeans out of the hamper, smelling them, and justifying well – we probably won’t run into anyone we know anyway.
And so Saturday night, a night I generally can be found slumming it at Soho House with SJP or snorting blow off a stripper’s DDDs with Charlie Sheen, I committed to doing laundry.
I had two good hours before Nate left for work at 7:30 (Whoo. Night shifts.) and so I trod up one flight in our apartment building with two washers’ worth of clothes and got bizz-ay.
I walked back into our place in time for Nate to say, okay well…have a good night. Sage is down and I have to go.
Wha-a? No! Wait! don’t leave!
You suburban parents, you have no idea how lucky you are to escape this monstrous conundrum. Why, you can just leave your children in bed during naptimes, go downstairs one flight, maybe two flights to the laundry room. Or maybe it’s a whole McMansion’s width away. In any case, never once does some sanctimommy yell, BUT WHAT IF THERE WERE A FIRE? You take on static cling while your angels peacefully slumber overhead and never hear that taunting voice in your head, ARE YOU CRAZY, YOU COULD GET STUCK IN THE ELEVATOR. You can even fold an entire oversize load of clothes, doing battle with temperamental collars and demanding linens right on the dryer, all while feeling confident that no one in the playgroup would challenge your decision with OH MY GOD ISN’T THAT ILLEGAL?
Nate kindly agreed to wait ten more minutes, at least until I could get everything in the dryer. Worst case scenario, Nate grabs the clean, if wrinkled, clothes on his way back home at midnight and we pray that one of my creepier neighbors hasn’t left them on the top of the machine as he (rightfully) commandeers it for his own.
But when I raced upstairs, I had no idea that the digital readout would taunt me by flashing the word IMBALANCE, and that 25 minutes of wash time still remained.
I returned. Nate left. And about 20 minutes later, I did the crazy New York parent laundry move. God help me.
With Sage snoring and Thalia cuddled up in front of some Elmo movie on the verge of sleep, I raced upstairs, two at a time, (OH MY GOD WHAT IF THE STAIRS BROKE DOWN WHILE YOU WERE ON THEM) and hurled that heap of wet tangled clothes from one machine to the next like I was a Fear Factor contestant flinging an armful of snakes into a tank for the win. And the whole time, I’ve got fellow Brooklynite Mr. Nice Guy’s story in my head about how he not only left his kids while they slept one time, but got locked out of his apartment in the process. I figured at least that can’t happen to me – I didn’t even bother to lock the door.
Panting, I flew back into our apartment maybe 3 minutes after I had left. Thalia hardly even noticed my return. My laptop remained on and untouched next to her as I had left it, as I became aware I had done so semi-intentionally, with the fleeting (if entirely implausable) theory that my two year-old could bang on enough keys to trigger some sort of emergency signal to the proper authorities should the need arise. Oh common sense, why hast thou forsaken me in my time of need.
As I write this now at 8:48, both kid are sleeping. Nate is serving grilled baby octopus with shaved fennel to fancy people. And my laundry grows cold and untouched in the dryer.
Or so I hope.
I’m not going back up there to find out.