Pandora causes pandemonium

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NOTE: The following Vintage Berry Wine column is a tribute to my daughter, Jocelyn, who turned 24 this month. Jocelyn just returned to her home in San Francisco, after a long stay in New Orleans, where she worked as a volunteer following Hurricane Katrina. This column was never published; it was written 10 years ago, in December 1996.
Most families have a schedule for doing laundry. Some people prefer to set one certain day aside to do laundry – Mondays or Fridays or even Saturdays. Others like to take smaller, bite-sized chucks of laundry and do, oh say, a load or two every day, while undoubtedly others do no laundry at all – preferring instead to hire someone else to do it. I’ve tried it all three ways and I must say we keep coming back to the same old routine. Around here, we do laundry 24-hours a day.
Take the other morning for instance. It was a Tuesday – a cold and damp Tuesday, but other than that, just your normal, run-of-the-mill Tuesday.
With one exception.
This particular Tuesday Jocelyn couldn’t find her shirt. Not just any shirt, mind you, the ONE AND ONLY SHIRT that could be worn on this particular Tuesday. (She had, you see, picked it out about a week ago. That was when she told herself today would be the day she would drive her mother crazy trying to find THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT.)
Now before I get to THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT, it would be helpful for you to know we have a new family member. Her name is Pandora and she is a 12-week-old Samoyed puppy. Quite an adorable white ball of fluff, too. As the newest addition to our humble home, she has made an enduring impression. (Especially on Jocelyn, who on this particular Tuesday morning, found that Pandora was the reason she couldn’t find THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT.)
It would also be helpful to know that, just before school dismissed last June, I told my children in no uncertain terms that when school resumed in September, some things were going to be different. One difference was going to be that instead of running around the house like a crazed lunatic in search of socks or shoes or whatever other article of clothing was needed just five minutes before the school bus was due to arrive, clothes were going to be picked out the night before. This would, I assured them, prevent me from going stark raving mad – and allow them to live a longer life, also. (If you know what I mean.)
Well, they tried, bless their little procrastinatingly-inherited hearts. And for awhile – the first couple of days, anyway – they succeeded. Then the desire to do better and be more organized gave way to a force much more formidable – habit. Everyone went back to the old routine of throwing on rumpled, wrinkled clothes just before they sped out the door to hop on the bus.
Everyone, that is, but Jocelyn. For she continued to try her hardest to select her clothing the night before – or two nights before, or, in this particular case – a full week before she wanted to wear them.
About one hour before she was due to leave for school, Jocelyn came into the kitchen to ask me if I had seen her shirt.
“What shirt?” I asked as I stood there making breakfast.
“You know, (THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT),” she said, describing it in detail.
“I’m sorry, Honey, but I don’t know where it is.”
“But remember, I hung it up in the bathroom to dry,” she added hopefully.
“Maybe it got carried upstairs with other laundry. Maybe it’s mixed in with your other clothes and you just didn’t see it,” I said, trying to be helpful.
“But Mom, I left it on the rack in the bathroom last week. Remember?” she asked, stomping out of the room when it was clear I was of no help at all.
The minute she was gone, her sister, Courtney, who happened to overhear the entire exchange while seated at the table eating her breakfast, whispered, “Remember, it’s her brown shirt. The one that was in the bathroom on the floor that needed washed.”
It took a few seconds for that to sink in. Jocelyn’s shirt, which had been washed and placed in the bathroom to air dry, was now dirty and awaiting another washing. Oh yes, it had been among the items Pandora dragged down when she was left in the bathroom while we were gone during the weekend. We came home and found quite a few things that needed to be washed. As soon as I was struck by this revelation, I remembered Courtney’s warning, “You better wash Jocelyn’s shirt before she finds out what happened!”
I looked down at the floor, where the shirt was still laying in a heap with other items needing to be laundered. I threw it into the washer and turned it on, hoping it would just need to agitate for a few minutes, instead of several.
“Uh, Jocelyn, we found your shirt,” I said, cautiously going into the living room where she was busy looking through the clean basket of clothes. Then I explained how it was now in the washer.
“So you’re going to dry it?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, adding that I knew it would be done in time for her to wear (while I crossed my fingers behind my back.)
“How long has it been washing?” she asked.
“It just started,” I said.
“It won’t get done in time. I tried that last week and it was six o’clock. It’s six thirty now. I won’t be able to wear it,” she said in a resigned voice.
Ever optimistic and also trying to avert disaster, I suggested we just wait and while she was waiting, she could eat breakfast. She did, thankfully. The minute the washing machine stopped, though, she was there, pulling the wet garments out.
“This isn’t my shirt,” she wailed in disgust as she looked at the garment.
“It isn’t? Then what shirt are you looking for?” I asked, genuinely amazed.
“No, it isn’t. I’m looking for the shirt – you know the one – I wear it all the time,” she said, as she once again gave a detailed description of THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT. She stomped off for the second time. Her voice came from the living room a few minutes later. “Here it is. It was in with the clothes you just took out of the dryer. It was there all along. Now all I have to do is iron it,” Jocelyn said.
I offered to do it for her, since I had just promised her brother I would iron his shirt. As I began to press it, I noticed it had holes all along the edge of the hem. “Jocelyn, do you wear this shirt tucked in?” I yelled to her, afraid we had another problem to contend with.
“You probably should, or the holes will show.”
“What holes?” she yelled, appearing in the doorway to see what I was talking about.
“These holes,” I said, as I showed her several tears in the fabric.
“Those holes weren’t there before,” she said, her face wrinkling.
“I’m sorry, Honey. We found the shirt when we came home over the weekend. Pandora had pulled it down along with several other things that were in the bathroom.”
Instant tears appeared. “PANDORA! YOU DUMB DOG – I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”
She screamed as she ran in search of the puppy. I reached Jocelyn just before she clobbered the mutt with THE ONE AND ONLY SHIRT.
It was awhile later, with just about five minutes remaining before the bus arrived, before Jocelyn calmed down and managed to find another shirt she could wear with the clothing she already had picked out. The shirt incident forgotten, she was all smiles as she went out the door, yelling, “Bye Mom, have a good day!”
I will, I told myself, as I sat down to take a breather before facing any other trials that would come my way. I said a silent prayer, asking only for a reprieve before I had to face another Tuesday like this one.


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