I was in one of those every-possible-item stores. You know the kind of store I mean: It has groceries, of course, and clothes, and hardware and electrical appliances and drugstore products and building materials and newborn layettes.
I was in one of those every-possible-item stores. You know the kind of store I mean: It has groceries, of course, and clothes, and hardware and electrical appliances and drugstore products and building materials and newborn layettes. Not to mention toys and outdoor furniture and flowers and office supplies and goldfish and jewelry and paint. I'm pretty sure that a person could find a nice selection of DNA samples in there, along with several Gutenberg Bibles, a Holy Grail (in the housewares department, probably) and a whole section of things that rhyme with orange.
Usually when I visit this kind of store, my primary goal is to finish my errands and return to real life as soon as possible, but occasionally I find myself drifting from aisle to aisle, discovering items I never knew existed, or needed to.
Take these dryer balls: a package of what appear to be two dog toys, soft plastic balls with little nubbins all over them. They looked a little like sea urchins, if sea urchins were blue and traveled in pairs.
"Better than dryer sheets!" said the words on the box, along with "Helps eliminate wrinkles!" and "Decreases drying time!"
Had I ever even heard of dryer balls? I wondered as I read the package. I was pretty sure I hadn't, though that in itself proves nothing. I'd never heard of wine glass charms either before someone gave a set to my husband and me for Christmas. Even then we didn't know what they were until we read the directions.
Not far from the dryer balls was another mysterious item: the Bra Wash Bag. I did get the idea more or less right away: Put your delicate items in here. But why? So they won't hop a bus to Baltimore the moment you turn your back? So they'll be close to things that speak their own language? Or is it a class distinction? Perhaps a Bra Wash Bag in a washing machine is equivalent to a box in a theater.
Frankly, I've always taken a mainstream approach to my laundry. "Everybody into the pool together" is my philosophy. Only relatively recently, in fact, did I stop washing blue jeans and white blouses in the same load, and I consider myself hyper-fastidious for refusing to wash my own clothes with the towels I've used on the dog's muddy paws. The notion of separating one group of clothing from another goes against everything I stand for, and as God is my witness, I won't have a Bra Wash Bag in my house.
Next door to the bra bags were the ironing boards. I'm an ironer from way back, an eager ironer, an ironer who once looked forward to pleasant hour or two pressing away wrinkles and creases.
Now, no one irons. Not even I find much in the laundry wrinkled enough to justify the pleasure of standing around doing almost nothing for a few minutes.
In spite of ironing's fall from the seat of power, however, regardless of how far we've come from the days when people ironed virtually everything - bed sheets, table napkins, undergarments, swimsuits, sleeping bags - ironing boards are still out there: the regular kind with legs that snick into place with satisfying finality, the miniature kind that you set up on the kitchen table next to the toaster, the lightweight ones you find in hotel rooms.
But here was something new: An over-the-door ironing board. Hang one end over the top of a door, pull down the board, and bingo. Or maybe I should say bingo until someone suddenly bangs through the door and the ironer is flung against the inner wall one second before the iron arrives as if delivered by a push pass from Jared Sullinger.
But I'm sure I'm exaggerating the dangers, especially if a person hangs up a "CAUTION: IRONING" sign before getting started. Frankly, this ironing board makes a lot of sense. What person doesn't have a door, after all? And if you don't, I'm sure you can find one in a store that has everything, probably next to the tongue cleaner, the ceiling fan duster and Amelia Earhart.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.