Woes of White Shirts and Family Homes

I have to wear a white button-down shirt to work. White. It must be white. That’s all. Long-sleeve, short-sleeve, one pocket, two pockets, no pockets, whatever, doesn’t matter. It just has to fit me, have buttons, and be white. Every man who’s ever had even a remote association with the workforce owns at least one such shirt. Most women do too, but their shirts are cut differently and the buttons are on the wrong other side! 🙂

So why is it so fucking hard to understand that these shirts must be washed? They are WHITE. They get DIRTY. Factor in that I am a gross and sweaty pig at temperatures over 21C (70°F) and…yeah. Pigs are, in fact, very clean. They wash themselves to get rid of their sweat and other stuff that makes mammals dirty.

Humans do so as well, but we have an extra step because the majority of time, we have an extra outer layer or two between us and nature’s cruel and twisted assault of various specimens of utter filth. Fashioned from any number or combination of a multitude of fibres and/or synthetic materials, these protective outer layers are referred to in common parlance as clothes, and collectively as an abstract entity – clothing.

We have a Maytag washer and dryer manufactured in 1991 at the latest. This means, of course, that we have had to replace a grand total of one part between the two in what coincidentally happens to be my lifetime, and that part was a rubber belt the washer uses to control the spin cycle – considered a wearable part under normal usage by any reasonable standard, and thus subject to replacement over the lifetime of the appliance itself. Just like how you ought to replace the serpentine belt in your car every three to five years – actually, they’re exactly the same thing, only the one for the washer is shorter!

So that’s fantastic. No telling how energy-efficient they are, but the washer (for example) is shockingly good on water usage, and is only several minutes slower than today’s fancy washers with their glass windows and LCD screens and shit. By that token, it uses much less electricity and has fewer parts to break…!

BUT here’s the thing. Though these two massive white steel beasts must meet the often-demanding needs of a family of six, only one person is allowed, by decree, to actually facilitate their daily operation – my father.

I wanted one of my white shirts washed several weeks ago. Foolishly, I put it in with the rest of the family’s laundry, and not until today did I finally uncover it, after being told that “if you put it down [the laundry chute], I washed it and I guess your mother didn’t fold it / give it back to you,” and after tearing apart my room and all the clean laundry everywhere looking for it. I found it in a pile of white garments on the floor of our laundry room, which also happens to be our “mudroom,” and as such frequently finds its floors covered with any amount of mud, dirt, leaves, water, or snow. Its floor is also where urine- and (thankfully rarely) shit-stained white hospital towels are tossed after being used to clean up after our nearly-two-year-old, very expensive, and definitively un-trainable inbred purebred dog. There was my favorite white button-down shirt, the one that fits me like a glove, the one that’s so comfortable, the stain-proof one…lying on the floor, underfoot, covered in dust, dirt, and debris from other dirty laundry, scuffed by dirty, careless shoes over countless weeks of neglect, and – worst of all – surrounded by other clothing in similar states, easily ten times dirtier than when they were brought to be washed in the first place, a decision likely made by their wearers at least a week and a half ago at least. As to why there was such a pile of filthy originally-white garments and such in the first place…the answer is simple, yet maddeningly illogical.

There weren’t (or still aren’t) “enough” whites to “do a full load” of laundry.

By that logic, there never will be. Here’s someone who consistently guilt-trips me into “contributing” to the family with various (often unnecessary) chores because I live under his roof and eat food he buys and, even if I do my own laundry (which he hates), am still using his water that he pays for…here he is, quite literally not contributing to the family either.

I rarely get so emotional in my anger. When I am angry, I usually just yell because something set me off really, really badly. But my passionate anger is different, borne from deep-seated resentment and feelings I rarely express for fear of being targeted to my very core and, if defeated, forever subject to being less-than-equal. This was nearly one of those times. He’s not home, of course, but I (literally) threw a fit, hitting the wall so hard I knocked some paint off of it, all the while feeling completely and utterly at my wit’s end, furiously frustrated by my heretofore consistent complete lack of power and my mother’s confusingly infuriating responses of “what do you want me to say?” or “what can I do, really?”

All this over a shirt. A shirt. To me, in my situation, it is a lot more than a shirt…it is representative of the sum of the daily struggles which drain me of all energy and motivation, which cause me to feel what can only be described as dread when it comes time for me to drive home from anywhere else, which make my house anything but a home for me, and why I feel more like an irrelevant and exploitable prisoner than a real, thinking, feeling person.