Dirty Laundry (#53)


Dan Savage has a very funny and oh-so-true post about the myth of finding “the one:”

…[when] you meet somebody for the first time…they’re presenting their idealized self to you… Eventually, you get to see the person who is behind that facade of their best…what’s beautiful about a long-term relationship, and what can be transformative about it, is that I pretend every day that my boyfriend is the lie that I met when I first met him. And he does that same favor to me — he pretends that I’m that better person than I actually am. Even though he knows I’m not. Even though I know he’s not. And we then are obligated to live up to the lies we told each other about who we are — we are then forced to be better people than we actually are, because it’s expected of us by each other. –“The Price of Admission,” Dan Savage

When I moved in with my Chinese-American fiancé, his façade was peeled back. It began in the bathroom.

Andy had never left to toilet seat or toilet lid up when we had been dating. He was the only guy I ever dated who seemed automatically commode considerate. But once I moved in, well, Andy “forgot” to close the toilet lid. I grumbled, and reminded him, and he forgot again…until his fateful midnight trip to the bathroom ended in a hoarse scream of “Gah! Aliens!”

I ran into the bathroom, flipped on the light, and saw my black cat twisted upside down, interrupted in mid-drink from the toilet. Andy swore that Commando Cat’s black fur disappeared into the darkness, and all he could see were Commando Cat’s eyes, floating above the toilet and reflecting the hall light as an otherworldly, freaky blue.  You know.  Like an alien.

Because of course if aliens do invade, their first stop won’t be the UN or the White House. No way. They are going to stock up on water in random toilet bowls everywhere.

Andy always made sure the toilet lid was down after his close encounter of the feline kind. Midnight toilet terror must be pretty effective aversion therapy. All credit to Commando Cat. (Now, kitty, never drink out of the toilet again. There’s residual chemicals in there. Also, future face nuzzling shall be banned.)

I learned that Andy had a cleanliness facade.  Every time I went to his place while we were dating, it was clean and tidy. I have since learned that he does not, in fact, notice dirt and clutter, let alone clean them up. (I suspect he hired a cleaning lady.)  For example, Andy drinks 3 cups of coffee as soon as he gets up, and then takes two thermoses to work. If I walk into the kitchen after he’s had coffee, I might find a puddle on the counter, droplets sliding down the cabinet, a stain on the kitchen floor, or all three things. Andy, however, never notices any of the coffee residue, nor the dark brown dunes of coffee grounds on the kitchen counter.

He doesn’t notice cat hair on the carpet, either.

But what surprised me the most was the laundry. Or rather, the lack of laundry. Back when we were dating, I had to use a laundromat. Andy had a washer and dryer in his townhouse. He took away my bags of dirty laundry on Sundays. The next Friday, a basket of clean, neatly folded laundry was returned to me.

Well, those months of laundering turned out to be the biggest lie of all. My boxes weren’t even unpacked when I discovered there would be no folding of laundry. Hell, there was no more flipping of laundry, even, from the washer to the dryer. Andy would throw in a load of laundry, add detergent, start the machine, and then he was done. He expected some laundry fairy to swoop in and take over.

Yeah. Well, this laundry fairy got irritated. Andy didn’t always communicate. Sometimes I had no idea there was a wet load sitting in the washer, mildewing. The washer would have to be run again. Turns out the laundry fairy carries a strong strain of German blood that loathes waste and inefficiency. At the time, the laundry fairy was also leaving the house before 6 AM to fight hours of LA traffic, work out, work a full day, and returned home after 8 PM.

The laundry fairy resigned. One Saturday, after vacuuming, mopping up coffee spills, and collecting clean clothes to fold, I carried the laundry basket past Andy. He sat in a chair, either reading the news or playing a computer game. Relaxed. Happy. Enjoying his free time while I CLEANED UP AFTER HIM.

I did the only logical thing. I sat down next to him, and calmly explained my feelings of resentment. I politely, rationally requested that he help with more household tasks.

Well, that’s what I should have done. But it’s not what happened. Oh, no.

I dumped the laundry on his head.

Andy stared at me in wide-mouthed shock as underwear, socks, and tee-shirts rolled down his head and fell into his lap. He put down his tablet, picked up a tee-shirt, and folded it. He picked up a pair of panties, put them on his head, and said, “You know, honey, I always dreamed that someday women would throw their panties at me. This is just, um, not quite how I imagined it.”

For the most part, since that day, neither Andy nor I sit around on our butts while the other does household chores. I don’t, because I don’t wish to look like a hypocrite.

Andy doesn’t, perhaps because he’s afraid I might throw something heavier than panties.

Dan Savage says we become better people when we strive to be the idealized self we first presented to our partner. And I believe him. But if your partner starts to forget the exact façade he first presented to you, don’t be afraid to remind him of the person he claimed to be.

And girl, you throw those panties if you have to.

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Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “Dirty Laundry (#53)”

  1. If I threw panties, my husband would insist it were an invitation regardless of the torrent of frustration that follows. His vision of the idealized me is fixed, and unwavering. Lol.

  2. Yes, you show who’s the man around the house 😀 First impressions are usually the impressions that leave lasting impressions, but the more we spend time with a person, the more comfortable they’ll become around us and show us their true colours. After a few meet ups and drinks and more hanging out, usually the swearing and bad habits all start coming out and things get very interesting from there… However, I have to give Andy credit for not making excuses not helping around the house and with the laundry…and finally helping in some way 😀

    I’m no fan of doing the laundry either. But when I do, it’s usually once a month in one big load or two 😀

    1. Um, I think it’s more like I showed him who’s the PSYCHO around the house. It’s not one of my finer moments. But we all have dirty laundry, right?

      Yeah, Andy generally doesn’t make excuses. I almost wish her could actually SEE the dirt and make up excuses for not cleaning it — then there would be hope for the future. But he just doesn’t notice it, which seems unfathomable to me. I have a hard time accepting it. 🙂

      Okay, Miss Kwong, now I am intrigued. I want to hear about the dating of the swearing men and how that gets interesting…

      1. I think when it comes to doing the chores at home, we all turn a little bit psycho. We all try to get out of it because there is always something else we’d rather do…and when we do get around to doing chores, something we think we’re crazy for putting in so much effort towards it 😀

        Ah, I was actually referring to meeting people in Australia in general who swear in everyday speech and it’s pretty much in their culture to do so.

  3. [Hangs my head in shame!] I have no comment because my husband does the majority of the laundry. He has even said several times that we wants to write a blog post about it! However, we do share the majority of the shares evenly [he may do most of the laundry but I always do the dishes.]

    1. Ha! Don’t hang your head in shame! Hold it up high and proud. Because you picked a good one. 🙂 So if you do the dishes, and he does laundry, who does the cooking?

  4. I am not clear about one thing: when you were not living together and Andy was “doing” your laundry, who was actually doing it? Maybe there is a laundry fairy after all :DDD

    1. Good heavens, Marta. I never thought of that. I guess if there was a hidden cleaning lady, perhaps Andy was dropping my laundry off at a “fluff & fold” place!!!

      You have a devious mind. Well done.

      1. Why would I pay for ‘fluff & fold’, to have someone fondle my intimates? Shouldn’t they pay me?

  5. Didn’t you know? The aliens will land in the ocean to hide their spaceship, then covertly infiltrate the cities via the sewer systems, to emerge out of the toilets.

  6. oh no! Is this my future?!? I move in with my bf in one month due to apartment issues and is insistance of a year that I do so. Maybe he’s just baiting me to clean his crap too lol. Good thing it’s a studio!

  7. Oh God! Pouring the laundry over his head and he’s not mad! That’s a really good guy! And extremely rare to find.

    I threw a clean dry sock at some guy once and he burst into anger! I threw a shirt at him and his temper raised. It hit the roof.

    Or maybe this only happens with Western guys?

    1. I think some men take criticism better than others.

      Some cultures have more emphasis on “machismo” or disdain for “woman’s work.”

      Some men can rise above that sort of idiocy. Some cannot.

      I couldn’t say how much was cultural or how much genetic, but Andy certainly got that household chores should be shared. Wouldn’t have married him otherwise!

      1. Yeah, that’s true. And I certainly hate this kind of mindset. There should be equality between man and woman. But no, it’s as if we’re still in the Stone Age. -.- (Metaphorically speaking.)

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