Dear Sophisticated Darlene,
I’ve been reading your site for eons, okay, really, just for two days, but I’m super duper impressed with your wide array of sophisticated knowledge. I hope, hope, hope that you will pull my question from your frilly, ribbon-ensconced, satin-lined hatbox to answer in next week’s advice column. I have a question for you about, oh, it pains me even to type this word, a question about clotheslines. What is with these country folks who think it’s a-okay to hang their laundry outside?
Cherishing you &
Wondering in Washington.
Obviously miss Wondering in Washington has me mixed up with someone else – some wise and wonderful woman who oozes forth a classy and refined diversification of housekeeping talents, probably not seen since the likes of June Cleaver and her Leave It To Beaver days.
Oh well, I’ve been called worse. But, since I aim my pistola at paper plate targets, err, since I aim to please, I’ll go ahead and answer her query here in my very own advice column:
Simple Stuff You Should Already Know!
If and when miss Wondering in Washington abandons her quagmire of high-class socialites and joins us in the lineage of ladies with laundry lines, she’ll be ready.
Clothesline Etiquette -n- Rules for the Beginner:
1. These are hard and fast. Set in stone. Don’t mess with ‘em or the earth may tilt off its axis and we’ll all land in our wicker baskets (Ha! I bet you thought I was gonna say something else right there).
2. Wash your skuzzy, dirty clothes. From all of my experience, it is safest, easiest, and best to do it indoors. You can use a regular washing machine, be it a top-loader or front-loader, it don’t rightly matter; you can use your granny’s old wringer, or you can scrub it on a board in the bathtub. But, do not, I repeat, do not, slip into the city pool via moonlight for what we country folk refer to as a Two-fer-Deal.
Apparently neked diving and laundry washing creates a neighborhood ruckus when the lady of the house dons her birthday suite, pours copious amounts of detergent into the pool, and repeatedly cannon balls off the high dive, all while yelling, Calgon, take me awaaaayyyyy! Oh, it’s true, with this method you can wash fifteen pairs of Wranglers at a time, but sister, a night in the pokey with your black plastic bag full o’ soggy laundry just ain’t worth it. Trust me. I mean, don’t ask me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
3. After you wash your dirty clothes (indoors), you may refer to it as “laundry,” but not before. Before it’s met the soap-suds-n-water, it’s just a bunch of stinky ole socks and dingy dungarees.
Tote your wet laundry outside. Put the basketful on the ground. Proceed to fasten the clothespin hanger thing underneath your armpits with orange (or blue, as it may be) baling twine. If you cannot tie a slipknot, tie what I fondly refer to as a knife-knot. Be sure to keep your pocketknife in your pocket.
(Bonus note) Remember to place all undergarments on the outermost edges of the line, making sure to pin your husband’s whitey-tighteys and your son’s red and blue rimmed Spidey underwear, so that the saggy parts all face your neighbors and/or the street. You sure as shootin’ don’t wanna look at that all day.
4. If you’ve run outta clothesline room and still have sheets to hang out, just toss ‘em into the nearest tree. Better yet, if you live in town and share a fence line with someone, drape your sheets right over that property boundary line. You might have to secure the edges with a wee bit o’ duct tape, but be considerate about it—when you are finished, leave the sticky stuff on the fence for your neighbor’s use.
5. Now go away. I mean it. This is partial off-grid living business is tough. You’ve worked hard and you deserve a break. Load ‘n Go… to the movies; or better yet, go to your husband’s work and press a cardboard sign up to his window that says Honey, I sorted, soaked, and hung up your underwear today. I love you bunches. Truly yours, your lovely lovable laundry lady.
(Bonus note) While you are out and about and the radio crackles with a severe high wind warning weather alert, stop at the store and buy new sheets.
6. If you opt to stay home whilst your laundry flaps in the breeze, you must frequently go outside and bury your nose in the linens and sniff away, sister. The ozone-fresh smell is a pleasing aroma to any woman. If your kiddos are home with you, do not, under any circumstances, allow them to copy you, otherwise you’ll be washing those fresh jam-hand-smeared pajamas again.
7. Whether or not to fold laundry at the line as you place it in your basket or cram it into said basket and fold it indoors, is a contentious clothesline topic. The more disorganized among us lean toward the latter. Well, some of us climb a ladder, but we are talking about the later latter, not the rung-ed ladder right now, lovely laundry ladies.
Alrighty then, whichever option you choose, be sure to shake all manner of spiders, bees, stinkbugs, and homemade pirate swords from your clothes. There is nothin’ more alarming than to witness your husband run through the house at dawn’s early light whilst he screams, smacks at his backside, and strips off his work clothes because something bit, stung, sprayed or poked him. And if you haven’t yet used the pot and/or drank your morning java, this can be quite an invigorating way to start the day.
8. No, I’m not ignoring Wondering in Washington, I’m just setting the stage for a direct approach to that gal’s questions. What is with these folks who think it’s a-okay to hang their laundry outside? As if my how-to public service message wasn’t enough, please continue to the list below.
- It’s a free! It’s a solar-powered drier. Get with the greenie program.
- It’s purty to see all them colors flapping on yonder breeze. Some folks hang modern art on their interior walls, but the more sharable among us, consider our clotheslines to be nothing more than outdoors art.
- It’s downright neighborly to gawk at one another’s laundry lines because it decreases speculative gossip. Here are some examples: (a) The extra living room blanket – the mister most likely spent the night on the couch. (b) An entire set of child’s bedroom linens (and the pillow and the mattress) – John Junior did more than eat way too birthday cake last night. (c) Fifty-three towels – the mister musta misread the do-it-yourself toilet installation manual. Again.
- It’s good exercise. What’s better, Sweatin’ to the Oldies or Sweatin’ with the Undies?
‘Nuf said. End of story. Period. Hasta la pasta. Hi-ho Silver, Away! Until next time. I lied. I’ve got one more thing: Countrified clothesline laundry ladies unite!
Whether you are an experienced clothesline laundry lady (or man), a nonchalant laundry looker or a clothesline creeper, the Tweetspeakers have this going on: