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Joel Klebanoff: Stuff & Nonsense

To worry is to be. To be is to worry.


I hate housework, absolutely hate it. Holding world-championship medals for both indolence and procrastination doesn’t help to get domestic chores done either. What’s more, even if I were a raving male chauvinist, which I’m not, because I’m single I still wouldn’t have a wife or live-in girlfriend to try to slough them off to. Besides, not being a raving male chauvinist, I’d feel horribly guilty trying to convince my wife or girlfriend—if I had one, which, as I said, I don’t—that it was “women’s work.” I’d still try because, did I mention, I hate housework, but I’d feel guilty about it.

To make matters worse, what little housework I do, I invariably do abysmally. That’s not by intent, but out of inability or, possibly, because the universe hates me.

For example, when I try to iron clothes they end up more disheveled than when I started. For that reason, I usually buy “permanent-pressed” clothes made from the most artificial of polyesters. In the interest of fashion, NASA approved this material to be left on the moon should NASA or anyone else ever go back there. NASA also recommended that moon landings be abandoned after that mercy mission.

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but, despite their alleged permanent wrinkle-freeness, these garments come out of my dryer in a state that would cause prunes to refuse to be seen in the company of such crumpled creatures if prunes were, indeed, sentient beings. Obviously, this is a figment of my imagination. If prunes were sentient beings they’d commit suicide if forced to sit next to my “stay-pressed” shirts and pants after they’ve exited my dryer.

New Sheets

I bought some new sheets a little while back because the newest of my old sheets were woven from fibers extracted from reeds that were personally harvested by Moses from the banks of the Nile just before he fled from the Pharaoh. The oldest of my old sheets were originally discovered under a bush by the first near-human species to evolve from our ape ancestors. Nobody knows how those sheets came to exist.

My old bedding had sentimental value, as well as archaeological, historical and religious significance, but it was becoming threadbare so I felt it was time to replace it.

Not having bought bedding in a long time, I didn’t know what to look for. The most prominent, common descriptor on the in-store marketing material was something mysteriously called thread count. I had no idea what that meant, and I felt pity for the near-slaves in third-world countries whom I felt certain were forced to sit in cold, dimly lit rooms counting the threads in every sheet, but I made the assumption that a higher number was better.

Then I looked at another number on the packaging—the price—and adjusted my evaluation criteria somewhat.

In the end, my decision came down to another listed feature. I had narrowed it to two brands of sheets. One said “wrinkle resistant.” The other said “no iron.” I chose “no iron.”

I figured that “wrinkle resistant” was a far weaker claim than a guarantee that I would never have to iron the sheets. That was a mistake. It turns out that the manufacturer wasn’t promising that the sheets would never hold a wrinkle and, therefore, I wouldn’t have to iron them. It was simply giving me permission to not iron them if I didn’t mind sleeping on and under severely wrinkled sheets.

Every time I pull the new sheets out of the dryer I hear some prunes in my fridge praying to never become sentient.

Nevertheless, I still don’t iron the sheets. I may change that policy if I come to think that I have a chance of ever getting lucky again, but for now I’m single and I sleep alone, so I simply live with horribly wrinkled sheets. What the hell do I care? I’m sleeping most of the time when I’m in the sheets’ presence.

By the way, my dryer has a “Wrinkle Care” button. When I push it, a light on the front panel comes on. I think that’s all the button does. Naturally, I’m joking. When I push the button, my dryer creates a nourishing environment that allows wrinkles to form, flourish and grow to their full potential.

Wrinkling isn’t the only problem with the new sheets. With my old sheets, every once in a while they’d wind themselves up into a ball in the dryer, with the result being that whatever ended up in the interior of the ball remained wet and wrinkled no matter how long it stayed in the warm, tumbling dryer.

The weird thing is, this didn’t happen every time—only once in a while. There didn’t seem to be any pattern or trigger that determined whether my old sheets would ball up in my dryer. My current working theory is that they had their own horoscopes that directed their destinies.

Things are different with my new sheets. Now, every time I dry them I have to open the dryer every five minutes to free whatever has been trapped inside the tightly compressed sheet-ball that formed there.

Sundry Chores

Doing laundry isn’t the only household task that challenges me. I hate vacuuming. To eliminate that chore, I bought two Roomba vacuum robots, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. The one downstairs works fine. The one upstairs, on the other hand, loves nothing more than to beach itself on the base of a floor lamp and stay there until I come to free it.

I have a theory about this too. The upstairs Roomba sleeps in the same room as I do. I think it’s protesting against that arrangement. I snore.

Roombas don’t do stairs. As a result, sufficient dust has now accumulated on my staircase that I have been able to fashion a really cool slide out of it.

Roombas don’t do furniture either. I don’t dust often, but when I can no longer remember what pieces of furniture lie under the dust accumulated on them, I’ll give them a good dusting.

Why is it that, no matter how diligently I perform this activity, after I’ve thrown away the duster and hauled the dozen or so large cartons full of dust to the dumpster, there’s always at least one swath of each piece of furniture that still has a coating of dust on it? Of the possible explanations listed above, the only one that seems to fit here is “the universe hates me.”

And I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t wipe down my kitchen countertops as often as I should. Nonetheless, I’m convinced that the following shouldn’t be happening when I do: The sponge that was bright, clean, and one of a selection of neon colors when I started always resembles nothing more than bitumen from the Alberta tar sands when I’m done.

You can’t tell me that’s a natural occurrence. That’s not quite true. You can tell me that, but I won’t believe you.

I could go on, but as I intimated above, I would kind of like to get lucky at least once more before I die. I have a feeling that this line of conversation is not helping me in that regard. On the bright side for any of you women who might be willing to spend long enough with me to fulfill this desire of mine, I’m usually pretty good at taking out the garbage. I rarely suffer a major mishap more than once a week when doing so.

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Categorised as: cleanliness


  1. I can relate to the sheet-balls and passive-aggressive Roomba. My current husband was a bachelor for 47 years, and he still has some “interesting” habits, e.g. he will never heat up anything in the microwave, he drinks Pepsi from a Tupperware bowl, and definitely doesn’t notice pet hair. Personally, I have a one touch house-cleaning policy: use something, then put it away. Clutter makes me a little nutty, and it’s also dangerous!

    • I didn’t realize we were married. That sounds like me. I don’t even own a microwave. There a few small differences. One week from today I’ll have been a bachelor for 60 years. I don’t like Pepsi, but if I did, I’d have no problem drinking it from a Tupperware bowl. And I don’t have pets, so I don’t have pet hair. Apart from that, your husband and I are twins.

  2. Janene says:

    Ha ha! Excellent post. I, for one, never buy clothes that must be ironed. I hate it, too! And that comment about the threads of your sheets having been harvested by Moses? Classic. I’ll remember that. My son’s comforter must be from the same harvest. Still he refuses to part with it. You can see right through the fabric to the batting.

    • Thanks, Janene! I’m thrilled on those rare occasions when someone enjoys my writing. Maybe your son and I should form an antique bedding club. There might be some interest in that from people who can’t afford new bedding, can’t be bothered to go out and buy new bedding, or can’t bear to part with their current bedding.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ironed in ten years. Nor do I intend to.

    I also hate housework. My now ex-husband used to be a stay at home dad and (theoretically) did housework. Now that I’m divorced, despite the fact I do the barest minimum of housework and I have two children who delight in making whole items into fragments and sprinkling them over the floor, my house is much cleaner than it was in the ten years someone was theoretically taking care of it.

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