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Golden Underwear

Last Edit January 18, 1999 Reformat 4/16/2016

My ongoing war with laundry, running colors, and the rascally ink pens.

      My underwear is now a soft golden color.
It did not start out that way. It used to be white.
      But, when you wash a brand new tangerine robe with other clothes, and you are used to colors and fabrics that do not run, strange things can happen.
      Especially when you are in a hurry. Working Moms are always in a hurry.
      I always throw everything into a pile and wash it all together. I wash when they run out of clothes. Or the pile shows evidence of having a life of its own. If it's trying to move, clean it. I approach doing dishes the same way.
      I've done that for years. Why I used to have the exrtra-large washer-dryer combo. Saved time.
      Never mind the old way of doing things. Endless sorting. Commercials that told us how to do it. Clotheslines stretched in the sun for maximum whitening.
      Whites in one pile, wash in HOT water. With bleach.
      Colors in another. Maybe one or two others. Pastels and brights. Warm water.
And dark clothes in another, cold water for them.
      My aunt used to bleach the bejeebers out of anything white. In scalding hot water. It wouldn't dare be dingy.
      It wouldn't dare live long either. Translucent cotton.
      But I have always been pressed for time. Always had 4-5 loads of wash. It takes dynamite to get sheets off the boys' beds. They eat in them. Dribble in them. Study in them. The dog climbs in them.
      My mother would have pitched a fit. I did - the big dogs stayed outside. The cats did too until they created Advantage and fleas could be controlled.
      And the boys had school clothes and other clothes - school clothes past their prime. They rolled in dirt. Sat in it. Played hard in it.

      And we lived in San Diego for 11.5 years in warm weather, light weight fabrics,
      And I have had fabrics and colors that don't run. Modern fabrics. Polyester. Double knit. Jeans.
      And washed EVERYTHING together in warm water, cold rinse.
      It usually works.
      Of course there is the occasional incident with a pen.
      When they were younger it was crayons.
      The ink or dye would be artfully arranged across the entire load in the dryer before the culprit was found. The inside of my dryer is never pristine.
      I became inured to underwear that had colorful marks. Slips and bras no one should ever see. But then, I wasn't allowed to date so nobody did!
      And I eventually kept my clothes separate from theirs. Certainly my work clothes. Blouses and such.
      I learned.
      There was the adventure with the red shirt. That ran.
      My older son took exception to wearing pink underwear to junior high.
      Can't understand why. My pink slip and bra seemed rather nice.
      Pink socks were not popular either with the boys.
      Clorox was.
      Some things can be rectified.
      Others cannot.
      My older son, when a senior, put a pen through the wash with all of his new school clothes.
      I learned how to remove ink.
      Hours and hours of practice. I was getting good at it. But there was so much.
      I gave up and replaced the clothes.
      Second time. The airlines had lost his suitcase and I had replaced them just in time for the airlines to find the missing bag. So he now had lots of clothes.
      Ink is difficult.
      Not the little thin lines. The thick blobs that you get when a pen comes apart. And then bakes in the dryer. It's the baking that sets it.
      I repeated this routine recently.
      I always asked the younger son, "Do you have your pen?"
      We had spent several trips to the stores to get that pen. In the right color.
      I have one in purple that he thought was blue. He can be very fussy and demanding. Very organized. Sometimes.
      And when he is trying to be organized, I will move heaven and earth to help him.
      So I tried to protect the special pen.
      He mumbled the last time I asked this question.
      It was one of his moody days.
      Couldn't be bothered with mother days.
      I was tired. I couldn't feel the pen.
      I was more concerned with not rewashing his wallet. He has some of the cleanest money.
      So I washed his dress pants (1) and dress shirts (3) he wears to work with the pen.
      Beautiful. $150.00 worth of clothes trashed in one wash.
      Now, I have cautioned, "If it's on the floor, it gets washed." Good thing I have a decent salary (even if underpaid)
      And if I don't wash it, he will stand in his briefs and tee shirt and bellow "Where are my clothes?" as he did recently. At 219 lbs, 6'2" , he can bellow. (I have also had the bellow while he stood barely covered in a too-small towel dripping wet.) (I keep trying to teach him how to use the weshing machine.)
      And I taught him that on these days he had to take whatever was not walking by itself across the floor and put it on. This was after the pen incident so I was not being very patient.
      This in spite of the fact that he can wash his clothes by himself. He has demonstrated this when I am not at home. He really can run the machine.
      But I mostly do the wash. For the sake of expediency. For the sake of peace.
      But actually so I don't trip over the mound as I walk to my bedroom. Four weeks after surgery I move better. I am almost to the point of doing exercise. But stumbling over laundry is still tricky. Twists my back. Pulls my stitches.
      The boys have never used a hamper. I buy them. I put them in strategic places. They get used for everything but clothes. And the clothes go on the floor. Sometimes right next to the hamper.
      I finally realized that they are copying me. I pile up what I have worn during the week. I pile up my own laundry. But I have been known to use a hamper when they haven't run off with it. And I do my own wash. And I usually try to keep my underwear away from theirs. At least the bras and body suits. And slips.
      I am an expert at ink. When I saw the latest pen disaster I went out and got the right stuff. Turns out SHOUT concentrate works best. Six washes later, I decide he can now wear the pants (khaki) and the shirts (2 dark blue dress) and maybe the Docker blue jeans style shirt where the ink plopped right in the center of the back. The underwear? I will run a bleach load.
      My clothes? Who cares.
      I am pleased with myself. He is not pleased with me. What 17 year old ever thanks his mother?
      I have also bought him new pants, new shirt, new belt and new tie. In contrition.
      Because he feels it was my fault. I should have known.
      He dresses at work. Tie, tie tac, belt, slacks, dress shirt. He looks adult.
      Close to it. And he is. Close to it. Scary. My baby. Grown up.
      I am pleased to buy him dress clothes. He looks nice in them.
      He still goes to school in rumpled jeans and gray tee shirts.
      That's OK. Intelligent kids dress in white, gray, and black. The gang members have taken the colors. And we haven't corrected that situation yet. There is something so wrong about that. So I don't complain when they wear gray and black and white to school.
      I was pleased that I had rescued his clothes, and was merrily doing another round. Another week. Another mound.
      I had a bright tangerine chenille robe from QVC. Size 1X that I can wrap around myself twice. Great for these cold Northern California evenings. A present to myself.
      My old robe was ratty.
      Mothers never repair their own clothes. Unless it's a quick sew-up of a seam using whatever color thread is in the sewing machine. Black. Boy scout green. Whatever.
      Like a plumber never does his own house.
      And my blue robe, size large, was tattered and worn. Seams popped. And it didn't go around my belly. (Does now.)
      And was always washed with the rest of the laundry.
      So in went the tangerine robe with my three white body suits, and a few other items.
      Including 3 pairs of my sons jockey briefs, 3 pairs of socks, my nightgown, underpants, and a bright purple shirt. And a few bath towels of uncertain age. And one white tee shirt. My younger son is fussy about his tee shirts. No pockets. Not see through.
      The bright purple shirt is just fine.
      The three body suits ( you know how much they cost) were bright yellow-orange. As were my son's briefs. His tee shirt. And his formerly white socks. And parts of my flannel nightgown.
      Bright yellow-orange.
      Enter Clorox. I don't care that it is not for "delicate" things.
      I removed the purple shirt and socks, his gray socks, the robe and anything else that did not pick up the color and bleached the bejeebers out of the rest.
      Shades of my Aunt Emma. I learned well.
      It toned down the color.
      My bath towel and my body suits are now a softer golden flesh tone. Suits me.
      But I don't think my son is going to go for the golden Jockey briefs.
      Not to high school.
      Covered the ink up though.

My younger son Johnathan died February 25, 2005 at 23 1/2 years of age - Chemo and Leukemia. I can still see him standing in his room in that towel asking where were his clothes? Because I was trying to teach him to do his own laundry. I had not washed his things that day. I also remember him picking up and checking the shirts on the floor to find one he could get away wearing. Boys will do anything to get out of chores! Love you, baby!

My older son is now 40, married, has an apartment, and does his own washing. I understand that he has managed to destroy his own clothing - with a pen. More than once. Oooops! That was not the lesson I was trying to teach!




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