May 11, 2003

Domestic Tranquility: My Spotted Record

I, the fashion maven that I am, have declared the 1960s are back! In particular that oh-so-special tie dye look.

Well, ok, I messed up. But it really wasn’t my fault. I followed my wife’s point-by-point instructions for removing spots from my girls’ tops and now I have, sitting in front of me, a pile of clothes with all these wonderful patterns.

I’ve convinced the girls they look cool and I’m reading them bedtime stories about flower children. I’ve got their interest but I will have to work a bit harder to convince my wife.

Here’s what happened: I washed the tops in the regular fashion to see if that would get rid of the catsup and other assorted food trails. When that didn’t work it was on to Step Two: fill the washer with warm water. Add 1/8 of a cup of bleach and agitate before putting in said spotted outerwear in to Autosoak (a 30 minute soaking before the regular cycle began). I followed my wife’s instructions to the letter. I set the dial to Autosoak, closed the top, and went to bed.

The next morning I awoke with much anticipation. I couldn’t wait to view my first solo spot-removing success. I opened the washer and there they were: still soaking in that bleach-infested tank. I’d forgotten to pull the washing machine dial OUT to start the cycle. The clothes had been stewing in that broth all night long. Well most of the clothes.

When I pulled them out, the parts that had been above water were the way they were before I’d put them in: bright and colorful. However, the rest of the garments were just a tad lighter than the night before.

The girls voiced a loud “AH OH” in unison. I pulled the tops apart and began looking closely at each. One, a yellow frock with blue sleeves actually looked pretty good. Really. The tie dye effect only occurred on the sleeves. The main yellow section apparently had been completely submerged and showed no pattern. I showed the girls how the mottles were like clouds. Yeah, like clouds: if you looked very closely you could make out animal and other shapes. I found a rhinoceros and they found a star and a pair of sunglasses. The other shirts were completely ruined.

What would I tell my wife? Well, I didn’t have to. When she made her nightly phone call, the girls immediately did it for me. “Dad wrecked our clothes but it’s really neat. We can see all sorts of shapes!” When it was my turn to talk she quietly asked if I had consciously made that mistake. “Did I consciously tie dye their shirts?” I replied. Did she think I tried to remove the spots in my sleep? Did she actually think I did it on purpose? Or was she being facetious: toying with my sense of manhood.

Sure, she could smirk. There she was in the mountains above Seattle being a “real” artist at a famous art school. Was she looking down on my domestic pastiche? I explained what had happened. It was an honest mistake (as are many artistic breakthroughs).

“Call my mother and let her take a look,” she pleaded. I think I’ll just put on some Jimi Hendix instead.

Happy Mother’s Day, dear. We’re doing just fine (although we miss you terribly). And don’t worry. I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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