My husband rarely does laundry. I’m not even sure he knows how the machine works. I’ve walked past him when he’s been “doing laundry” and it looks more like he’s playing the slots in Las Vegas: pressing a lot of buttons and hoping for the best. Also: I have seen him take coins out of the machine after a wash.
My husband did laundry last Saturday. I was busy working on a prop* for my cousin’s** wedding (this coming weekend!) when he offered to do a load of laundry. Of course I said yes*** (because then I don’t have to do it).
“You need any help?” I called, wanting to be sure he separated the colors from the whites, which sounds like segregation – but isn’t – because I’m only referring to laundry.
“Nope”, he said. He sounded confident. I didn’t want to sound like I was questioning his abilities, so I decided to keep quiet.
I heard the washing machine door open, a few beeps, then the sound of the water pouring into the machine.
“Everything good?” I asked, because I just couldn’t help myself.
“Yep.” He rounded the corner, with a smile on his face. It was a smug smile, usually reserved for games of Trivial Pursuit. (He is really, really good at Trivial Pursuit – even the Canadian edition.) It was the kind of smile that said, “You thought I didn’t know how to use the washing machine, but I do. So there!”
I thought about giving him a look that said, “Oh yeah? I do your laundry every other time, you ungrateful sack of potatoes!” but instead, I went back to prop-making. The husband sat down in front of the television to watch basketball.
45 minutes later there was a beep.
“Wash is done.” I said, even though I knew he heard it too. (I should stop doing that.)
“Yep.” The husband transferred over the wash. I heard the dryer whir to life.
“All good?” I looked up from my prop.
“Yep.” The husband poured himself a glass of water, then returned to his spot in front of the TV.
45 minutes later there was a beep.
I purposefully said nothing (and you know what? I was proud of myself). The husband got up, and went to the laundry room.
I looked up from my prop, still holding a glue gun. “What?”
The husband rounded the corner, holding a tiny navy blue sweater. I looked at the sweater. I put the glue gun down (carefully) and walked over to the sweater to get a better look.
It was my brand-new navy-blue J. Crew sweater that I had only worn once, for less than 30 minutes!
“Is this yours?” He asked, but I could tell that he knew.
It was at that moment that I remembered” the “incident of 2006”.
The husband had a new sweater once. It was black, angora, with a crew neck. I was young, and in love, and didn’t know my way around Maytag appliances. I washed everything in hot water, including his sweater. Then I put it all in the dryer. I told him it was an “accident” and begged his forgiveness, but it was no use. Forgiveness never came.
Suddenly, it all became clear: the offer to do laundry, the smug smile, the glass of water. This wasn’t about helping around the house – this was revenge.
My husband held the sweater out to me, like I should take it from him and put it in a shoe box, and bury it, and then have a small ceremony where I talk about how much I loved the sweater and how much fun we had together.
But instead of taking the sweater, I pulled my husband into an embrace. I was touched that he had taken the time to exact his revenge on me. The messiness was how behind us. We were even now. We could get on with our lives and marriage knowing that things were squared.
Then I saw my new jeans.
* an applause sign
** she’s a fake (real person, fake cousin)
*** I’m saying “yes” to everything (within reason): https://holdyourhorse.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/the-yes/