Friday, September 23, 2011

Dry Town

Quite a few birthdays ago, Consort asked me what I wanted. I trilled, “I know it’s expensive, but I’d really love a drying rack!”

And then Consort ran away and fell in love with someone who wasn’t the dullest person on the planet.

The end.

Please understand, I didn’t just want a drying rack, I longed for a drying rack. Clothes which don’t suffer the indignities of the dryer last longer and look better. I live in a region that has a rainy season which lasts less time than a pint of ice-cream in my freezer, so you can dry your clothing outside all year. The gas bill would be less. There was no downside to a drying rack except that every time I decided to splurge and buy myself one, I’d get into a self-doubting spiral where I started to question whether I was worthy of a drying rack. Shouldn’t I just drape clothing over lawn chairs like the pilgrims did? Was I just yet another mindless consumer of goods, rampantly buying things like new socks, dental floss, and drying racks?

And then Consort ran away and fell in love with someone who wasn’t the dullest ruminator on the planet.

The end.

No, instead, he bought me exactly the drying rack I wanted. He even got two-day shipping so it could be here in time for my birthday, despite my insistance that cheap shipping was good enough for me, that two-day shipping was more of a Jennifer Lopez thing. The box arrived, I opened it, saw the tops of birch dowels, squealed in delight, and pulled it out.




The drying rack was stuck. I yanked again, harder.

(Because in my world, the first rule of physics is “Any object responds well to mindless force.")

The drying rack sprung halfway from the box; from within the box was a horrible sound, a breaking sound. I tugged more gently. Now, how to explain this. The drying rack is created so that when you’re not drying, it folds flat, which means it’s basically a series of hinged wooden X's. When they had put my precious in the box, one of the hinges on one of the X's got stuck on something inside. What it got stuck on I’ll never know, because my brutal yanking could bring down bridges, but somewhere between my upper-body strength and the stuck thing inside, I created something akin to a spiral fracture in one of the structural elements. I stared in dismay. I had dreamt of a drying rack for nearly a decade and broke it before I owned it for ninety seconds. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Consort, as he frequently does, fixed the problem I created, forming a sort of steel plate around the spiral fracture. Now the drying rack didn’t open without incident, but it worked well enough, drying my family’s clothing in pervasive California sun. It took some extra wiggling to get it into position, but I took that as the cost of being me, with the jerking and the hubris of thinking I was worthy of a drying rack. Besides, I consoled myself, someday it would fall apart because of this initial indignity, and then maybe I’d get myself a new drying rack. This time, I’d let Consort open the box.

More than a decade has passed. I think I’m strongly recommending this product, because it’s still with us. It’s working, but I can’t say it’s exactly attractive while doing so. I refer to it as Our Invalid. Every week, I tiptoe it out and gently unfold it. The assorted dowels hit the ground like ripe fruit in a windstorm. I reassemble it, gritting my teeth as Side-A, freed of the dowels, gracefully wilts against me as I’m trying to stabilize Side-B.  Dr. Bunstein views this as the high point of his week, because dowels sometimes roll under the hedge and they are very delicious. If I don’t weigh the clothing equally around the rack, it collapses on my foot, leaving wet clothing on the grass. Each week for the drying rack is a race against gravity and chaos. I’d complain more, but the gravity and chaos is of my making and, frankly, every week is a race against gravity and chaos for me as well. So we age together, not always attractively, but I appreciate its endurance and its quiet acceptance of my flaws. When it falls on me, it seems like the mildest sort of payback.

Sometimes, though, late at night, I click open the new drying rack page on my browser and I gently touch the screen, noticing how stable their drying rack appears, how whole. I whisper, “Someday,” and then I go to make sure the cats aren’t batting a rogue dowel around the laundry room.


Blogger Leta said...

Is this the same Quinn who lives with a rabbit even though she is allergic to hay? Who takes in stray animals and volunteers at shelters? I think you've earned a new drying rack. Heck, the universe *owes* you a new drying rack just because you ate a jar egg.

And then you can give Dr. Bunstein all the dowels and he will be so happy ...

11:59 AM  
Blogger knit one, knit two said...

I got one of those (inherited from my mom). Love mine for the same reason. But holy Hanna, I didn't know they cost that much!

12:01 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

I don't know. I think Jennifer Lopez is more a Priority Overnight Shipping kind of girl...

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Robin Raven said...

Still giggling. And I'm so lacking in any domestic skills that I didn't know those existed. I think it's so cute that I want one. Thanks so much for the fun read.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have one - but it lives in our basement because Pittsburgh weather is NOT conducive to drying clothes outdoors. But the DH wears wool socks that can't go in the dryer, and polypro y-fronts and undershirts that can't go in the dryer, and the DD has sparkly clothes that can't go in the dryer...

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Dear Quinn: You totally deserve a new drying rack. If I had cunning Sydney Bristow-esque skills, I would discern precisely the one you wanted and leave it on your doorstep.

Unfortunately for this clever-and-slightly-creepy plan, my CIA stalker skills are sadly lacking. I can't even find the gym without getting lost, because LA is confusing. I also can't understand why I'm going to the gym.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Shinny said...

Why don't you put up a clothesline in your yard? I live in crappy weather Wisconsin and get about 3 good months of use out of my permanantly having to mow around the giant metal poles with sagging lines. ;) You can also get the kind that attaches to the side of the house and you pull it out each time you want to use it and then you only have to have one pole to attach it to in the yard.
I do have two drying racks for my basement but they must not be nearly as fancy as yours since one cost me about $10 at Walmart and the other I got free at a rummage sale because it needed a little work.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I put up a clothesline. Wait. I take that back. My husband put up the clothesline. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I love the smell and the feel of the clothes after they've been dried out in the sun. However, I also got attacked by fire ants every time I went out to hang up or take down the clothes. My husband also dealt with that problem...cause I'm the helpless sort that just stood out there, screaming profanities at these tiny, evil creatures.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Liongoddess said...

I love my dryer rack. I would love to have a clothesline, but my landlord thinks they are Tacky and says "What do you want one for? You HAVE a dryer!" He doesn't get it that air drying is much cheaper in warm/hot months, better for the fabrics, and that draping things over 3 dryer racks, my car, and any other free space in the yard is just as tacky as the discreet line I asked to hang in the backyard.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Mary K said...

We have a retractable clotheline too! I love it and it has worked flawlessly for 20 years and still going strong. I have never owned a dryer. Wouldn't have a clue how to use one. I don't think I would know how to use a drying rack either.

9:41 PM  

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