So many words, so little time....

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

White Shirts...

I need to do laundry. Not just a little. I mean the dresser is empty sort of need. I need to do laundry like Blue Elf needs food. That means my traditional uniform of geeky t-shirt and jeans is being replaced today with something from the grown-up section of my closet. And since it's 80+ outside, it's a certain embroidered white cotton blouse. I only wear it a couple days a year, because that's all it takes to remind me why I don't wear it more often.

This thing doesn't just "get" wrinkles. It manufactures them to it's own fiendish specifications. No, that's not the best way to explain it. Manufacturing implies some sort of system or limits. This level of crease requires some sort of dark pact. I can just see it.

The moment I close the closet after hanging it up all straight and starched it begins the rite. By some sort of cottony osmosis it slouches to the floor, genuflects and then kneels in front of a secret shrine way back behind the shoe-rack and the outmoded monitor. In the deep dark of the night when the omens are most auspicious it begins to chant and offer up cedar and mothball scented offerings to its wrinkly masters. The dim light of morning peeks in the crack under the closet door. With its need sated by the Creased Ones, it is exalted and lifted back onto the hanger to revel in its return to it's natural corrugated glory and await my bleary-eyed summons.

With all the embroidery and my usual 5am stupor as I fumble it out of the closet and get dressed it's more than possible I'll get all the way to the harsh purple light of the cheap fluorescents in the elevator of my office building before I realize the state that it's in. By that time there's nothing for it but to keep going. I can try to steam it a bit when the walking group in my office hits the showers in the locker room after their daily stride-and-gossip sometime around mid-morning, but for now I have a meeting with the coffee machine and an errant mail server. I'm stuck in my furrowed shirt for the duration.

Then the trial-by-coffee begins.

There's that old truism about how if you wear white you'll always spill your coffee on yourself. Happens to everyone. What most people do not know is that this is not a passive problem. The shirt isn't just lying there across your chest waiting for the coffee to strike the first blow. They bow and square off at the center of the mat when you start to pour, and then every sip is a silent struggle along every tight corner, jostling step and distracted sip. Cup after cup, the battle will rage until one is consumed or one is stained.

Like any good soldier, it has its squad mates. It won't trust just any old garment. It needs a grizzled old veteran of many-a-skirmish and today it's got the best. The white camisole that goes with just about every outfit has it's back, as it has for many a sharp young prospect that has fallen before. Its ability to take even a full cup black coffee strike and then survive the Bleaching brings it back from ignominious defeat time and time again. Behind the scenes keeping everything together is the serviceable but perky white foundation known as "Wires".

The usual coffee and tea tag team called in it's own big guns. The whole seed German mustard from my lunch sandwich made a solid effort but missed its strike and hit the pants leg. There is little damage to the highly defended denim and what is there gets cleaned up with no trouble. An afternoon yogurt tried a drop off the left side of the spoon but was caught in the other hand.

The day done and the battles won, the shirt basks in the sunlight on the way across the parking lot. In the dishwasher sits the vanquished coffee cup, shaking its handle at an uncaring sky and vowing to return to fight the next day.

Once home, the weary combatants head off to the Dryvel bag to down a few, share old stories and maybe manhandle their way through a dryer-dance or two with that lacy demi-cup that everyone thinks is so hot while I shrug myself into that disgraceful old yellow sweatshirt I won't wear out of the house even just to get the mail and toss in a load of laundry.