Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lord of the Rinse

They say you never really know who your friends are until you’re in trouble. And by ‘they’, I mean, of course, Anton Casey whose best friend is the entire city of Perth.
            They also say you never really know who your friends are until you have to ask a big favour. And in Sharyn’s case, the occasion presented itself a few days ago when her washing machine broke down in the middle of the rinse cycle.
            Saffy later said you could just tell it was an emergency by the way her handphone rang. “It just sounded a little bit shriller, you know? Kind of like Amanda sounds when she hits the chorus of ‘My Heart Will Go On’!”
            “Hey!” Amanda yelled from inside the bathroom.
            “I’m just saying!” Saffy said cheerfully before dropping her voice a few octaves lower. “That woman has the hearing of a bat!”
            “I heard that!”
            Anyway, about Sharyn. The woman was in a major flap and you could hear her excited chittering on Saffy’s handphone.
            “Uh huh…oh dear…” Saffy said in soothing tones. “That’s terrible! Yes, of course, you can. Just come over whenever. I’m not doing anything. Just watching American Idol and wishing Harry Connick, Jr was my husband…Yep, no problem. See you soon! That was Sharyn,” Saffy said as she clicked off her phone. “Her washing machine just broke down and she’s in a major panic. Her son’s basketball uniform needs to be ready for tonight’s game and her good for nothing husband’s suggestion is that they just buy a new set.”
             “So, what’s happening now?” Amanda asked.
            “She’s just coming over with some laundry.”
            Five days later, those words still haunt us. One of the things that single people never think about is just how much laundry a family generates. Each of us does our own little pile of laundry every few days. Some of us have less than the others. Saffy, for instance, who only ever wears skimpy tops and even skimpier bottoms can do an entire week’s worth of laundry and still only fill the machine halfway. So, it’s not a big deal.
            When Sharyn showed up at our front door, she was followed by her maid, her husband, and three children, each of whom was completely obscured by the huge laundry bag they were carrying.
            “What is this?” Saffy bleated as she stood aside from the open door.
            “Our laundry, lah!” Sharyn panted as she dropped a laundry bag that was just over half her size in front of our washing machine. “You think, what, my gold bars, is it?”
            Saffy’s bosom struggled to inflate but the effort was too much. “How can this be your laundry? My year’s laundry wouldn’t be this much!”
            “You got children, meh?” Sharyn said as she turned the bag upside down and out spilled an entire department store’s worth of shirts, bras, skirts, underwear, socks, blouses, trousers and even sports trainers.
            On cue, her maid, husband and children upended their bags to reveal bedsheets, towels, bathmats, school bags, more sports trainers, gym gear and curtains.
            “You wash your curtains?” I marveled.
            “You wash your shoes?” Amanda said, her eyes wide as she looked at the little hills on the floor.
            “Abuden? Before we have washing machine, I have to wash all by hand. Can die, ah, I tell you! Imagine in the old day how you have to go to the river? Wah liau! Ay, where is your washing powder?”
            “But why do you store up your clothes for so long?” Saffy said as she absent-mindedly handed over the container, her mind still unable to comprehend the sheer volume of laundry.
            “Where got long? This is only one week! Wah, so little washing powder, ah?”
            Our machine spun and twirled till late that evening. I stopped counting after the sixth load as I had to pop out to the nearby provision store to buy more laundry powder.
            Saffy said that she always used to make laugh when Sharyn said she was spending the whole day doing laundry, somehow imagining that Sharyn was down by the river bashing clothes on the rocks. “I’m not laughing now,” Saffy said grimly. “It’s no wonder your washing machine died!”
            “Wah,” Sharyn said, “you save my life, ah! I buy you lunch later. But first must buy a new washing machine. Only just buy a new one, some more! So lousy, the workmanship! Nah, hurry take this home to dry, then go to Best Denki!” she said passing a clean load to her husband.

            Amanda says if this isn’t a clear-cut argument for not getting married she doesn’t know what is.

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