I’m back to washing my own clothes again. I don’t know why I got the idea that paying someone to do my laundry is going to give me more time to do other things. Sure, some people think it’s more convenient to just go to a laundry shop and bring that bulk of dirty clothes and weigh ’em up and pay for the services. Sounds convenient, I know. But along the lines, I realized I won’t include my underwear in that lot. No sir, I will not let other people see the skid marks and stains that may or may not be present , but you can never tell. There are times I am such a slob I may have worn the same pair of briefs a couple of times. You aware of the Side A and Side B mythos? Ask a college student from Recto and you’ll get an idea.
So yesterday I woke up and just looked at the pile of tees, denim shorts, jeans and socks on my one laundry basket and asked myself, how did I let this molehill get so big, the clothes are spilling and the basket is bulging. After much thought, and two mugs off coffee, and after checking if the water will be available for the rest of the day (I am renting a matchbox of an apartment on the third floor, no water pumps, you get the idea, and yes it is Quezon City) I began with the whites.
Always start your washing with the whites.
The entire procedure is a combination of science and tradition, handed down from generation to generation. My mother, bless her soul, nearly fainted the first time she saw me attempting to wash my own clothes back in high school. Not of shock, but out of sheer, ecstatic laughter at what I was doing wrong then. You must understand, my mother was a gentle soul, but when it comes to household chores, no one comes close to being a stickler for details. And so I learned the intimacies, the methods, soaking really dirty clothes overnight, using your hands instead of a brush, arranging some on a flat surface for the sun to do its work on tough stains.
But of some of these methods are not for city living. So, since college I may have pieced together some really practical ways of getting my clothes washed and dried quick enough and efficient enough for my lifestyle.
What lifestyle? Lifestyle is for the privileged and the rich.
I can’t afford a lifestyle.
It’s why I always end up washing my own clothes. No lifestyle. But a life, nonetheless.
So, after sorting out the whites from the colors, the socks and undies, the pants and shorts, and putting on a playlist of Metallica, Megadeth and Greg Howe, I moved with a purpose. Gotta do this on my own. I’m a man on a mission. Never again will I let another do my washing for me.
This is a man’s job.
These are MY clothes.
I get them dirty, I have to wash it myself. There’s no better person to clean after myself but my own. I’m the one who wore these clothes, I’m the one going through life in them, the fumes from cars and jeepneys of everyday walking and commute, the spills and splashes from food at the canteen, coffee stains and spit from laughing at jokes shared with friends, anger and frustration, grease from rails, cigarette smoke, whispers of repressed lust, copious glances at desirable women, guilty dreams, piss stains on the crotch, the whole day embedded in increments and dust particles, good ideas and bad judgement, clinging silently on the threads and cloth I wear everyday. And they weigh these garbs. Have to wash them all off. No more paying for laundry. No more asking other people to clean it up for me.
This is my shit. I clean it.
Oh, there a lot of ways nowadays to get your laundry clean – a premium laundry service for a fee, new and improved detergent that takes a way the stain just by soaking, fabric conditioners to leave your clothes smelling nice even at the end of the day, these and more, may promise you sparkling, better smelling clothes,and all that hype. Truth is there’s no better, sure-fire way of cleaning the dirt off than with using your own hands.
And by the end of the whole washing, with my hands numb and looking like prunes, legs stiff from standing at the sink, sweat on my brow, hanging the last of the lot on my terrace clothesline (yes, even with the cramped space, I get a terrace, how can you top that?) I look at the dripping clothes, clean and neatly spaced for optimum drying and wind/air prospects, I dry myself and light up a cigarette, and make coffee, for a job well done.
Have enough clothes again to dirty up on the coming work week.
Then I noticed the apartment needs some sweeping, my books are in shambles, and have to fix that table for a reasonable angle for drawing.
No rest for the wicked.