Tag Archives: clothes

Dirty laundry

Most of my socks have holes in them. Every time I need a pair of socks, I have to go through this giant pile, they all look identical, and I have to try to match a sock that’s equal to another sock. It’s my own fault, I’ve dug myself a pretty nice sock hole here. Every time I go to Costco, I buy another pair of socks. Right out of the package, these socks are great, the elastic is really snug, the fabric firm. But after a month or two months of use, they get a little thin.


And so my problem is more than just socks with holes. My problem is that I’ve been buying new socks every month for the past two years or so, without ever having gotten rid of any of the old socks. I’ve got a huge pile of socks, all with varying degrees of wear and tear. When I’m trying to find a pair of socks, I’m laying them all out, and again, they all look exactly the same, so I’m trying to feel a seven-month sock against a five-month sock, and then after going through twelve or thirteen potential pairs, I finally get a good three-month to three-month match, but then I put them on and the left one has a premature hole, and so I’ve got to throw it out and start from scratch.

All of my pants smell really bad. I’m six four and I have a thin waist, so buying pants isn’t the easiest. Every time I go to a clothing store, I always try on a pair of jeans. On the rare chance that there’s a decent waist-to-length combination that actually makes it all the way down to my feet, I’ll always buy them right there.

But I can never put them in the dryer. Clothes shrink, jeans especially, and I’ve learned the hard way that the only way to ensure that right-from-the-store fit is to make sure that they never go in the dryer. So how do I get them dry? I have to hang them up in the basement. And for most of the year it’s not a problem. I take them out of the wash, hang them up, and then a day later they’re dry.

But it’s been so wet lately, so rainy and humid and gross. I’ve been trying to wash my pants for weeks, but every time I leave them to dry, I come downstairs the next day and they’re still kind of wet. And then I come down a day later and, maybe they’re a little dryer, but they’re still kind of damp. After day three, I need a new pair of pants, and even through they’re not super dry, they’re dry enough, and so I just put them on.

And then I notice that smell. It smells like an old basement. It’s that smell that you get when you put a load of laundry in but you forget to move it to the dryer. So I keep it there in the washing machine for like four or five days, and then later that week I’m out of underwear, so I really need to do another load, but that first load is still sitting there in the dark, wet washing machine. I don’t have any time to run it through again, and so I just throw it in the dryer, whatever, I tell myself, maybe the heat will somehow make things cleaner.

But it never does, it’s gross, that smell is worse than just regular basement. It’s regular wet dirty basement, and maybe I’m in a rush and I’m late for work and so I take a shower and I’m running even later than I thought, and so I don’t have any time, I just grab something to wear, anything, and then when I’m finally out of the house, I finally make it to the subway, it hits me, what’s that smell? It’s me. I stink. I smell like gross dirty laundry that’s been sitting in a wet, dark corner of the basement for a better part of a week. And there wasn’t enough time to match a pair of socks, and so one foot feels great, just really bundled up in that brand new sock feeling, but other one might as well be going commando, there’s a hole at the tip, my big toe can’t stop moving around in there, squirming, trying to fit itself through the hole. And did that guy standing next to me move because he can smell the laundry smell? Is it really that noticeable? Am I really that unpleasant to be around? Of course I am. I wish I could walk to the other end of the subway, but it would just follow me, because it is me. It’s me. These clothes smell horrible. My socks are the worst.

Whatever it takes

People ask me all the time, what are you willing to do to accomplish your goals? And I always give the same answer, every time: whatever it takes. It’s the perfect response. It’s like, back off, OK? Stop asking me any more questions. But at the same time, don’t worry about it, OK? Because I’ve got it. So just leave me alone.


Like every once in a while my wife will get on my case about something, “Rob, what are you going to do about that giant pile of unfolded mismatched socks?” and I’ll stop whatever it is I’m doing, but only for a second, just enough time to make really solid eye contact, and I’ll say it, “Babe, whatever it takes,” and then I’ll go back to playing video games or surfing the Internet. And it always works. Because how could I express it any stronger that, listen, I got this, don’t worry, stop interrupting my nap time or TV time to ask me about socks?

You’ve got to follow through though, eventually. Like one time, it started out as just socks, “Honey, whatever it takes,” and it just kind of snowballed into underwear, t-shirts, “Baby,” after a while it was like every single piece of clothing that I owned lay crumpled up in this gigantic pile that totally dominated our second bedroom, “Whatever it takes,” I kept saying it.

But I could tell that it was losing its effectiveness, there was definitely one night where she was like, “You keep saying that, but what does it even mean? That you’re just going to keep saying ‘whatever it takes’ without actually doing anything about it?” And I took the bait, I said, “End of discussion,” but I shouldn’t have engaged. The whole point of saying, “Whatever it takes,” is to say it, and then go right back to your business.

Hint: Don’t say “end of discussion.” I don’t know why, exactly, it must have something to do with the intricacies of the English language, but where “whatever it takes” evoked that image of a man ready to do, well, whatever it takes to get the job done, “end of discussion” just comes out making you look like a dick, and all of the sudden the two of you are in a fight, and about what? I have no idea.

But like I was saying before, that time with all of my clothes, I was at the point where I had to do something, so I said it one final time, “Babe …” and I said it, and then I left the house, I took the dog for a walk, and when I came home, I took two Benadryl and went straight to bed. And then when I got up that next morning, I had to figure something out.

“Whatever it takes,” I said it to myself as I made a move to start folding clothes. But I couldn’t do it. It was too much. The job was a lot larger than anything I could handle, and so I went online. I searched craigslist for housecleaners. All of the ads looked identical, so by total chance I had this Russian lady at my house a few hours later.

“I want you to clean the whole place,” I told her, thinking that I’d show my wife, like look, baby, don’t bother me, OK, I told you I got this, and I got this. “Also,” I said, “I need you to fold all of these clothes.” She just kind of stood there in the doorway to the second bedroom not saying anything. “They’re all clean, I promise. I just haven’t folded anything in a while.”

“I’m going to need to call in for some help if you want the whole house done plus these clothes.” And I just looked at her and I said, “Whatever it takes.”

I came home like five hours later and the place was spotless. “How much?” I asked her, and she said, “Two-fifty.” I said, “Are you kidding me? Two hundred and fifty dollars? That’s insane!” And she shot back, “You said ‘whatever it takes,’ remember? This is what it took, two hundred and fifty dollars.”

So I had to go to the bank, only, and I don’t know how I didn’t think to plan this out a little better, but all of money was currently off to the side in one of these online savings accounts. My direct deposit wasn’t supposed to show up until Saturday, and so I found myself kind of begging the branch manager, “Isn’t there any way you can get some of that online money out of there and into the checking? I really need it, right away.”

And he was like, “I mean, we can make it happen, it’s just a matter of bank fees, there’s a lot to process, I hope you understand it’s …”

“Whatever it takes man, make it happen.”

And then when my wife came home that night, she took one look at the house, totally spotless, she was like, “What the hell, did you have someone come and clean the house? Is that why the bank called to approve a twenty-five dollar emergency transfer fee? What the hell Rob?”

After she calmed down, I really did want to make things right. I sat her down and said, “Sweetie, listen, I’m sorry, I know I let you down. And I just want to let you know that I want to do whatev …”

“Just shut up Rob, stop saying ‘whatever it takes,’ OK? Is it like a tick? Don’t you get bored saying the same thing over and over again? What’s it going to take to get you to stop saying it? Huh? And think really hard before you answer that question.”

“Look …” and I didn’t say it. But I thought it. In my head, I was screaming it out loud. “I’ll do whatever it takes, you hear me? Whatever it takes.”

What to wear?

Probably one of the best things about being a little kid was never having to worry about what clothes I was going to wear. I know this isn’t a novel reflection, that most little kids don’t really spend any time considering their outfits, but it’s still something to think about, to put life into perspective, into a point of view that makes me feel like I took my childhood for granted, like I used to be able to just go outside and feel great without caring at all about how I looked.

I don’t remember ever going clothes shopping as a little kid. My mom would just buy stuff and there it would be in my dresser drawers, shirts, pants, whatever. We did have to go to the shoe store to buy sneakers, because with footwear I guess you need more of a precise fit, and that shoe guy needed to get out his foot measuring device and everything. Oh yeah, and no laundry, that was another great thing about this whole setup. I didn’t have to buy my clothes, didn’t have to pick them out, and I just threw everything in the dirty pile to have washed and folded for me by my mom.

I did have some cool outfits that I remembered preferring over others. One summer when I was like seven or eight I remember having this neon green mesh tank-top/neon green and black shorts combo. I felt so cool all decked out in neon green. I felt a Power Ranger, even though Power Rangers wouldn’t be around for another four years or so, but you know, I’m just remembering this stuff, and so it doesn’t have to be exactly chronological.

And when you’re a little kid, you’re constantly growing, so nothing ever fits right, but it doesn’t really matter. Who cares if your pants are inch too short? It was the same with holes in your jeans. Whatever, just give me something clean. Or not clean, who cares? Just give me something to wear so I can get back to playing video games and tormenting my little brothers and sisters.

I remember exactly when things turned sour. Seventh grade. I had just switched schools. Going to a Catholic school, I had the whole uniform thing to buy me about a month’s worth of time, time enough to go about my day to day activities without really worrying about my clothes or what my friends were wearing. But I remember the first time I got together with some of my classmates outside of school, one of the other kids said, “Nice shirt,” in a mocking way that I didn’t even get until much later that night. What was wrong with my shirt? I think my grandmother had given it to me for Christmas one year, maybe two years ago. I had never even considered shirts something to be made fun of.

A couple of weeks later, my parents signed me up for basketball, and it was the same thing. I showed up for the first practice wearing a blue and white tie-dyed Bill & Ted t-shirt. I have no idea where it came from. I definitely didn’t pick it out. But whatever, it was a t-shirt. I think I was wearing plaid shorts also. As soon as I showed up, my coach asked me, “What did you get dressed in the dark?” Again, I couldn’t even piece together the joke/insult until much later, that’s how far my mind was from clothing.

As I settled into my new school, I figured out that everybody wore JNCO jeans, these super baggy pants that outside of hindsight, even right in the moment, they looked ridiculous. I realized this during our first dress down day at school. Seriously, the only good thing about Catholic school was that you got to wear a uniform, you got to remove clothing as something you had to be self-conscious about, which, until this first dress-down day, I was never conscious of. I wore a Pavel Bure Vancouver Canucks jersey, a favorite of mine from the 1994 Stanley Cup finals when, unfortunately, the New York Rangers won the playoffs. Those assholes.

Dress down days are a cruel joke. You can’t go from uniform to dress down in a single day and expect there not to be any problems. I had no experience in dressing down. It’s like if all of the sudden the school instituted a Braille day, where everybody had to read with their fingertips. I go into school wearing my hockey jersey, and the first thing I’m greeted with is some uptight teacher screaming at me that my shirt was too baggy and that I had to tuck it in. Tuck in a hockey jersey? Right this second! Now!

I looked like a huge loser. And then there was the whole JNCO thing. Being new to the school, I had no idea that every other person in my class owned a pair of JNCOs. I think I was wearing a pair Wrangler jeans from JCPenny. I had never wanted a day of school to be over faster in my entire life. For the rest of the year, any time we had dress down, I just wore my uniform instead and claimed I had forgot. Much better than trying to figure out how to put together a cool outfit.

I’m glad those days are behind me, but I’m still scarred. I’ve been left super self-conscious, about my clothes, about my appearance. But since I really don’t have a sense of style, I just stick to very utilitarian items, jeans, t-shirts, hoodies. That’s kind of like a uniform for guy in his late twenties. I’ll go to a bar and everybody’s wearing the same thing. And it’s much better. I wish there really were uniforms, for life, nothing to worry about, nothing to get all self-conscious about, constantly checking your self-image in any reflective surfaces, worrying that your basketball coach is going to pop up out of nowhere and make a crack about your shorts in front of all these new kids.