My husband’s favorite old shirt still bears the battle wounds of the Great Crayon Incident of 2003. The scarred-for-life mark of the laundry near-casualty is however, not a deterrent—my man will wear the most cherished Reyn Spooner to the death. The story of the stowaway crayon is one of family lore. And the tale, replayed with fish-story accuracy each time the battle-weary shirt emerges from the closet, is the reason that not a single crayon has made its way into a pocket in many. many. years. Just as the shirt is scarred, so too are the crayon-toting psyches of my kids. Emotional scars, people—it’s the shit we moms LIVE for. *curtsy*….. My work here is done.
The stories have instilled quite a productive terror within our clan. Crayons now remain at home. And only at home. I learned a similar lesson when I was a kid. It’s amazing how poorly crayons fare in the back seat of a car. I swear, people, Southern California summer heat is pure magic. It turns crayons into rainbow unicorn vomit. And as impressive as it is, dads are surprisingly unimpressed by unicorn vomit. And consequently, dads become very screamy at the sight of it. I’ll bet if they had been glitter crayons, he’d have been more impressed. Because everyone knows unicorn vomit has sparkles. That’s probably why he wasn’t impressed—no sparkles.
Over the years, I’ve applied the crayon exemplar to all things laundry. The litmus works with anything I consider putting into my pockets. “Should I forget to take this out of my pocket, what would it do to a load of laundry?” From that question forward, I proceed with ample caution. I found however, after I washed my phone, that my litmus required amendment. “Should I forget to take this out of my pocket, how yelly would my husband get?” That was a scene I don’t care to replay. Although, oddly I still get more grief for the phone that accidentally bumped into the bedroom wall. In my defense, it was totally the phone’s fault for being in my hand when I was really pissed. It should have known better. That phone was really stupid. It deserved to die. You’d think I’d get a little support for ridding the world of stupid phones. Jeez. My husband can be so short-sighted and judgy.
I’ve told him that he too should learn from the crayon incident. Over the years I’ve had to rewash laundry fouled by a wide range of pocket goodies, including Chap Stick, chalk, pens and an impressive array of candy. My husband pockets candy like a squirrel hoards nuts. We’ve even had gum in the laundry, which fortunately stayed within its wrapper. Because unwrapped gum in the wash makes an impressive mess. By mess, I mean shit everywhere… think hard boiling an egg in the microwave. If the microwave was a washer and dryer. And the egg was six sticks of warm gum, tossed like a cluster fuck salad. We had been very lucky not to have a mess like that.
Until last night.
Yup. That’s what I said. The nightmare of laundry-doers everywhere descended upon us. I hadn’t noticed until after the load was ready to come out of the dryer. There, on the edge when I opened the door… four balled up sticks of gum within their wrappers, perched there, as if to tattle on the rest for not having remained sheathed.
Shit shit shit. Please God, let this be all of it. *pffft* As if a deity of any kind would be concerned with the well-being of my load of shorts. My momentary religious experience had no affect. Because as I pulled them out of the warm dryer, I could see the evidence. It was the Great Crayon Incident of 2003, all over again. Except this time, it was gum rather than red crayons. But of course not merciful gum that would blend into khaki shorts. Black gum. My husband left a handful of sticks of black gum in his pocket.
At that moment I grabbed the fireplace poker and whacked him over the head with it. Ok, that was just in my mind. I didn’t kill him. I didn’t even hit him. I’m not the murdery type. I really wanted to go all dad-not-amused-by-unicorn-vomit on him. But I just didn’t have the heart. He felt really bad, jumping into action, cleaning out both the washer and dryer… spotless and free of gum. It took him over an hour. He was deadass tired, and it was midnight before he was done. He was like Superman. I married Superman, people. Except ridding the world of nasty, black gum rather than super villains. And not the world. Just our washer and dryer. But he’s still totally Superman in my book. If Superman washed his gum.
There were signs of casualty amongst the load of shorts. Me and my badass skillz with an ice-cube and a knife managed to get most of the gum off of everything. However the black gum did leave permanent reminders scattered all over his shorts. Now he has something perfectly matched to wear with his red, crayon-stained Reyn Spooner. Lucky for him I only had one pair of shorts that suffered permanent damage. The stains will probably fade over time—unlike the memory of the Great Gum Incident of 2013. I’m hoping my family suffers from PTSD from this for years to come. There’s nothing more useful than a painful I-fucking-told-you-so incident to forever rid the laundry of gum. And crayons. Then again, maybe not. But a girl can hope.
I suppose at some point in the future we’ll find some humor in this. We may even rerun the story of the Great Gum Incident of 2013 every time one of the battle-scarred shorts emerge. Probably no laughs for a while though. It’s difficult to recall gum in the laundry with warm fondness. There’s really nothing good about it. Except perhaps that my last load of freshly dried underwear smelled minty fresh.
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