Teddy Allen: All Washed Up

We’ve all been there, up Mildew Creek without a paddle.
Such is life when your clothes-washing machine goes 10 toes up.

It didn’t really die as much as it went on strike or was just terrible at its job. If my old clothes-washing machine were a football team, it would be the Dallas Cowboys, a mind-numbing imposter.

We inherited a “water and energy efficient” washing machine; it came with the house, same as the den and kitchen sink. And it looked like a washing machine, a little white cube with knobs and buttons and a big bin.

True to its branding, it was very efficient with water — but only because it hardly used any. And if you really think about it, water is one of the main things you need to wash clothes properly. So, the trouble was, this “pretend washer” wasn’t efficient at all in getting clothes clean. You know you’re in trouble when the clothes smell worse after they’re washed than before.

You know how a wet dog smells? There’s a charm to that smell if it’s on your dog from time to time. The smell loses its sentimentality if it’s coming from your blouse or blue jeans.

Ode to a Dried-up Washer

When your washing machine
Is all washed up,
It’s a dirty shame.
You’re out of luck
And in deep poo.
(You smell bad too.)

Even your friends and family want little to do with you if it’s 9 a.m., you’re working a desk job, and you smell like old eggs or last week’s trash.

“Honey, something stinks in here.”
“Yeah, sorry; I just washed a load of clothes.”

Something’s rotten in Denmark. Not optimal.

People could never have had this type of problem before the invention of clothes. You wore leaves. They got dirty or smelly, you threw them in the compost pile and picked yourself some new leaves, either in the yard or off the rack at The Leaves Store — “Got something in a Fig or a Palm? Size 16? Petite?”

But then some nitwit invented the snap brim hat, which led to cottage industries of neckties, pants, dresses, ascots, two-tone shoes and, eventually, the clothes-washing machine.

Sigh … It was a simpler time.
It’s been a while since I’ve bought an appliance. Maybe a toaster 10 years ago. This was different. This was Big Game Hunting, a safari.

Yet it proved as easy as studying online, then showing the nice man at the store a picture. He hit F4 and maybe a Shift, typed in the model number, looked up and said, “There’s one on the truck that just pulled up outside.”

If you ain’t got timing, you ain’t got nothin’.

Quick as he could say “Twelve months same as cash,” the deal was done. The delivery guys showed up two days later, unhooked the old and hooked up the new, did it all in maybe eight minutes, could not have been nicer, and hauled my old “washer that wasn’t really a washer” away for just $30.

“You’ll take this heavy piece of junk away from my house for just 30 bucks? When otherwise I’d have to borrow a friend and a truck and lift it and haul it myself? Glory!”

Would have paid twice that. Even three times, and I’m broke as that machine was.

For another $10, he said I could buy a “nice” plot in the Appliance Cemetery, between a busted coffee pot and a Frigidaire, and he’d bury her there. I told him I was good, to dump it in a ditch if he wanted. I’m a sentimental softie, but not in this case.

We are so spoiled, all of us. Used to, clothes-washing machines never broke down. Back then they were called “our grandmothers,” have a wash tub and washboard will travel.

Laundromats took off after World War II — talk about a lot of laundry to do — and in-house washing machines became less bulky and more affordable and, thankfully, ran on electricity and not on steam. Now they’re common as a ketchup or coffee stain.

Thank goodness for that. Especially when they actually work. I don’t look any better since getting a new washer, but I smell fresh as $736.06, plus tax.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


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