This Week’s Featured Dr. Wizard Post…
LESSON #23: COIN-OPERATED LAUNDRY
Unless you are either one of the chosen few college students whose mothers do their laundry for them every weekend or one of the rich few college students who can afford a laundry service at two dollars a pound, you will quickly find yourself engaged in a never-ending war of epic proportions. Your nemesis: laundry. Your only weapon: a roll full of quarters.
Now, let’s be clear here. There is no denying the fact that as an enemy laundry sucks. It’s clever, like an interior operative agent that uses your own desire to achieve personal hygiene against you. And worse, it’s indefatigable. The war against laundry is like a land war with China. Once the battle has begun, it will never, ever end.
You see, behind closed doors, while you’re busy in the library or the gym, your clothes are piling up in the hamper, plotting their attack. Stealthily, they wait for just the right moment (that Saturday night when all you need is a pair of clean underwear), then overflow the hamper lid and spill out into the rest of the closet, busting open the door and swelling from a small wave of socks into a crushing tidal force of hooded sweatshirts and gym shorts that threatens to overtake your entire dorm room floor. They will never quit; they will never tire. Laundry, like John McClane, dies hard.
So, what do you do? Well, the secret, as in any war, is to know your enemy. Laundry’s objective isn’t so much to outright destroy you as to slowly bleed you dry, sucking away either your economic or temporal resources. If you choose to fight the battle via proxy, with a laundry service, your enemy strips away your ability to purchase new CDs, to go out on the weekends, and to take your special friend on dates. If you choose to man up and fight the battle yourself, laundry seeks to suck away valuable time from studying and playing wiffleball. You must counteract this evil by fighting smarter, and thus I now give you the rules of college laundry:
Rule 1: Sort your clothes quickly into two piles – whites, and everything else. While, in general, I am against any categorizing that involves dividing white populations from things of color, laundry is an important exception. Miscegenation in the world is a good thing (there’s a reason that babies of mixed race are usually cuter than other children); but miscegenation in your laundry basket will just leave you with a bunch of pink undershirts.
Rule 2: Wash your white clothing with warm water, and your dark clothing in cold. The great myth surrounding laundry is that your clothes do the majority of their shrinking in the dryer. This, in fact, is not the case. Cold water is the best way to prevent shrinkage. (Ironic, I know.)
Rule 3: Make sure you are there to switch your clothes promptly from the washer to the dryer. You know the asshole that leaves his clothes sitting in the washing machine all day? Don’t be that guy – because two things are going to happen if you are. #1) Your clothes will end up smelling like wet dog, and in a desperate attempt to counteract this fact, you will douse yourself with Axe body-spray. Unfortunately, this will only lead to your clothes smelling like Sex Panther; and #2) Somebody is going to get pissed off that you’ve frozen the poetics of the laundry room, and they are going to throw your wet, dog-smelling clothes on the floor. This is entirely your fault. So either set your watch, or stick it out in the laundry room for thirty minutes and read one of those J-Stor articles you’ve been carrying around (see Lesson #20). As an added bonus, if you believe Hollywood films, the Laundromat is perhaps the world’s third greatest location to find a date.
Rule 4: When drying your clothes, use a fabric softener sheet. Otherwise, you will be plagued by static electricity and your underwear will feel like it is made out of wool. So be thankful that you haven’t been born in the nineteenth-century, when everyone’s underwear really was made out of wool, and embrace the fabric softener sheet.
Rule 5: Fold when you have time. That’s right. There’s no hurry here – especially if you purchase only wrinkle-free clothing. Go out, enjoy the sunshine, and fold your laundry later as you watch reruns of Sex in the City.
Rule 6: Well, actually…that’s basically it. Repeat regularly, I suppose. The bottom line is that laundry should take you no more than two hours a week if you do it right, and during that time you should be able to get a little homework done. You’ve just got to treat it as if it’s a chronic nuisance, that will never go away, and must be treated with penicillin – (oops, I meant a roll full of quarters). Following these 6 rules means that while laundry may not be able to be beaten, it can be controlled…
…which I guess means it’s not exactly as tough as John McClane. Seriously, have you watched Die Hard IV? Just when you think you’ve got him where you want him, he’ll jump a motorcycle into your helicopter. Can laundry do that? No, it can’t. So maybe the better analogy is to compare the chore of doing laundry to John McCain. Neither seems to be going anywhere, even though they both have a tendency to get old real fast.