You Got To Know When To Fold ‘Emby
Maggie Van Ostrand
Kenny Rogers sang, “Ya got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em
… “ in his hit, “The Gambler,” he was singing about more than playing cards,
he was singing about housekeeping.
With all that’s going on in the world
today, I should probably be more upset about unchecked crime, crooked politicians,
and the faltering economy. But no, I’ll leave those worries to people who can
do something about them. What really concerns me is my laundry, and that I’m unable
to fold it as well as my daughter. She really knows “when to hold ‘em and when
to fold ‘em.” Nobody does it better, not even the dry-cleaner.
Paula (that’s not her real name; her real name is Susan) can fold T-shirts into
a perfect rectangle; one so perfect that whatever printing is on the T-shirt front
is precisely centered in the final fold. She can fold fat and fluffy towels so
that the ends come together perfectly without using a ruler (like me), and those
she folds could be used in a Vogue ad for Cannon Towels. In fact, Paula can actually
fold fitted sheets. I’m not making that up. In the few minutes it takes her to
finish doing it, you can’t tell the difference between the folded flat sheets
and the folded fitted ones. Her corners are as crisp and sharp as the edges of
a new envelope. If she ever saw the way I fold things, she might politely say
I taught her how to do it. I wouldn’t bother correcting that lie because we’d
both know that my finest housekeeping hour was figuring out that I could avoid
vacuuming by simultaneously opening the back and front doors and waiting for a
breeze to blow out the dog's furballs. And I could never even figure out why dust
stops accumulating after about two inches.
Everybody has something they
can do well, and sometimes life is simply trying to figure out what that thing
we do well is. For me, if I can eliminate things I can’t do, what’s left will
be my answer. I can’t do calculus or anything else with numbers; I can’t open
jars without either a wrench or a man, and I can’t figure out why auto mechanics
can talk to men without looking at their chests the way they look at ours. I can’t
always understand exactly what poets mean in their poems, can’t cook these days
without a pair of scissors, some pliers, and a box of Band Aids, and I don’t get
how a battery works even though I read the explanation in an encyclopedia.
However, I may be getting closer to finding out what I can do well because now
I can also eliminate folding laundry into a decent shape. Instead, my laundry
comes out like a bag full of deflated soccer balls left out in the rain. Not only
that but, when I do the wash, it takes me much longer than most because I’m constantly
having to stop and pluck out bits of disintegrated Kleenex which had been hiding
in pockets. This is progress? In my own mother’s day, they used hankies so if
they remained in pockets, they’d get washed at the same time.
was right about holding and folding but next time, he should consider lyrics by
Erma Bombeck, who once said, The art of never making a mistake is crucial to motherhood.
To be effective and to gain the respect she needs to function, a mother must have
her children believe she has never engaged in sex, never made a bad decision,
never caused her own mother a moment's anxiety, and was never a child. My mistake
was in not teaching Paula how to fold laundry the way I do.
Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
July 3 , 2009
Homes & Housekeeping
Texas | Columns