Paula Johnson

ESSAYS

A NEW SPIN ON LAUNDRY

A dry wit—or dry Martinis—may make you fun at parties, but the real key to happiness is…dry clothes.

A few years ago, my sister and I bought a 1938 duplex. The renovation is proceeding at a snail’s pace, but that’s not the problem. It’s that we can’t seem to keep all of our appliances operating in unison. Maintaining two households under one roof simply doubles the chances of always having something essential on the blink.

Last week was a triple-header. I discovered my toaster oven sucked, my vacuum cleaner didn’t, and my hair dryer could double as a blowtorch.

As I put my Conair 1500 to work—making nachos—I realized that living with terminally-mature appliances requires an extra dash of ingenuity. It was time to channel the spirit of MacGyver (or at least find the channel airing reruns) and figure out how to solve my problem using everyday resources. Heck, MacGyver used to defuse nuclear warheads with little more than a wad of Juicyfruit, a past-its-prime rutabaga and several coins from Belize.

However, my biggest challenge wasn’t getting my hair dry (the nachos were great, by the way), it was getting my clothes dry.

My elderly Kenmore conked out months ago, most likely traumatized by the fact that we ripped out every cabinet in my laundry room. The purchase of a new washer/dryer has been delayed by our raging “Side-by-side!” versus “Stackable!” debate, so we had been hanging wet clothes outside on sunny days and zipping to the laundromat in foul weather.

But no more. I’m no longer at the mercy of weather or traffic when I have wet clothes. Why? Last weekend I converted my small bathroom into a walk-in clothes dryer. MacGyver would be proud. And you thought walk-in humidors were the next big thing.

It was the “let there be light” episode in our little restoration comedy that sparked my laundry breakthrough. A few weeks ago, our handyman spent a full day installing new light fixtures throughout our duplex. Two of everything. Just like Noah’s Ark. Only hard wired.

The wattage in my bathroom now rivals Dodger Stadium; I fully expect to hear the roar of the crowd when I finish flossing. But it’s the peppy little 32” ceiling fan that’s getting the real workout. I just hang my soggy clothes on the shower rod, adjust the wall heater to BLAST FURNACE, set the fan to GALE FORCE and shut the door. Two or three days later, my clothes are ready to wear.

It’s a perfect solution except for one tiny thing: my 9’ by 6’ bathroom requires an entire box of those dryer sheets.

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