There is little success where there is little laughter.

~ Andrew Carnegie ~

The Secret Art of Hanging Washing

November 4th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 23 secs

Have you mastered the art?

Yes, you’re right. What could I possibly know about the art of hanging washing?

I thought I knew. But then Ruth set me right.

“I’ll have to teach you as clearly you know nothing about hanging washing out nicely.”

Now fortunately I don’t have a particularly tetchy ego or I might have been miffed.

“What do you mean I don’t know about hanging washing,” I demanded. “How hard can it be?”

Famous last words.

Now you probably knew about this well before you were born. It wouldn’t surprise me. I was too young and silly to know. But this hanging washing out to dry skill is surely an obscure art.

When we were first married, I had my first friendly clothesline forays, which I felt rather proud of. That is, until afterwards when Ruth patted me on the shoulder and said, “Never mind, darling. You tried.”

I thought she was trying to be funny. But my education in the fiendish art of moisture removal was just beginning.

As the years past, intermittent tips came my way:

“You are a funny character. You’re meant to peg both sides”, “Love, it’s simple. Turn them inside out first and those outside in”, “Did a child hang out the washing or were you being silly?”,

“Peg both sides, not from the crotch!”,Love, bed sheets won’t dry doubled up. What were you thinking, silly?”, and “Darling, what have you done? The shirts are covered in poop!”

Aside from the fact that I hung the shirts out, I believe the birds were responsible for that whole business. But it was deflating to think even the birds had, “expressed their opinion” in such a negative way. But I consoled myself. You just can’t afford to be too proud. Get the knowledge of this art and you’ll achieve success.

So now, after decades, I think I’ve cracked it. The code I mean.

Washing goes out in correct basket: check.

Attach garments to line with pegs: check.

Distribute load to maximize airflow: check.

Wave arms and yell at loose-bowelled birds: check.

Gather dry washing before 2.45pm in winter to ensure optimum dryness: check.

See? Having acquired the knowhow, I have mastered the art.

For mere mortals who only use an electric dryer this might seem a curiously simple operation. But it requires a mind like a steel trap and the skill of a specialist to accomplish.

So last week, when I brought in another textbook load, I drew Ruth’s attention to the height of my laundry achievement. The zenith of sundried clothing lay before her feet, neatly filling a basket. I had done it and now I was ready for the praise and glory. After years of practice, from those early shamefaced days hanging washing crookedly, and letting it drag on the ground, I had come of age. Now I could perform precision pegging, juggle underwear blindfolded, and do perfect pajama origami folds. Finally, I was ready.

Ruth looked up as a tired smile crossed her face: “Love, you’ve finally done it. This is beautifully dry.”

Rolling this moment around in my mind I thought “At last. I had finally reached the clothes drying hall of fame.” Then my thinks bubble burst with a loud pop.

“But darling,” she said. “Why on earth did you hang these clothes out in the first place? I haven’t even washed them yet!”

I wonder how much an electric dryer costs…


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