Another “The End” post for Sidey’s weekend theme. This one is a story of my theoretical genius Dad and my practical genius Mom. Guess who wins?
My Dad was a wonderful man. He had his quirks, however. I think I’ve written before that I once saw a tee-shirt caption that would have been perfect for my Dad – wish he had lived long enough for me to give one to him! It said, “Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?”
Anyway, on to a wonderful characteristic. If my Mom was ever sick – fortunately for her she almost never was, and most times even if she was, she would never admit it – Dad always wanted to step in and help her out around the house. He decided to do the laundry for her one day.
Dad did a lot of outdoor work, as well as work in his woodworking shop in the basement. He made beautiful things of wood. He also got his work clothes quite dirty. Good man that he was, he stepped in for Mom and decided to do the laundry. First of all, he figured that since everything he put into the washing machine had already been washed numerous times before, he didn’t really need to separate the colors from the lights and whites. (My hubs accuses me of doing the same thing on purpose – but really – he only gets pink underwear if one of my pairs of red panties hides in among his undershirts!)
Now, Dad also figured that owing to how dirty the clothes that he was laundering were, they needed bleach. Good old-fashioned full-strength Clorox. One problem, though, was that he didn’t “figure” that until he had already loaded the clothes, the detergent, and the water was in the process if filling the washer’s tub. “Oh, well” thought he, “I’ll just add it in now. No big deal.” So rather than using the bleach dispenser located on the side of the machine that is made to mix in with the water as it fills the machine, he just poured it in – liberally (remember, it was DIRTY!) – right on top of the as-yet-to-be moistened clothes.
Considering the year in which this happened – somewhere around 1968 or 1967 – the tie-dyed look was rather in, so he didn’t stand out too much when his navy work shirt had such lovely random white spots all over it. Besides, it matched the two pairs of navy work pants he had also washed at the same time. I don’t believe that much else in the load that day survived the fate of the “rag pile,” although my memory is a bit hazy on that score.
Dad was rather embarrassed about the whole thing, and apologetic. My Mom just sighed and gave him a pat on the back. After all, he had tried, God love him! However, on one thing they differed. Daddy wanted to put all the tie-dyed clothes in the rag pile. Mom did not. She insisted, quite rightly, that his newly designed shirt and pants were still perfectly useful for wearing in his basement shop and outside for yard work. If he needed to make a quick run to the store while wearing them, it was his choice to either change his clothes, or wear what he had on. The hardware store he was most likely to be visiting would probably be patronized by men almost exclusively (remember, this was the 60’s), and they either wouldn’t notice, or would be wearing clothes by the same designer.
After Mom recovered from whatever ailment had caused Dad to do the laundry, she was down in the basement taking over those duties once again. She noticed in the rag pile a pair of the tie-dyed navy work pants, and, exasperated, pulled them out and presented them to Dad that evening when he returned from work. “Max, I told you these pants are still perfectly suitable for work clothes, and need not be disposed of.” “But, Pearl! you have not examined that pair thoroughly enough. If you check the zipper, you will notice that the tab has come off of it, making it impossible to zip them up. I might go around with my fly open in the shop, but not in public, thank you very much!” Dad righteously replied. “Max,” Mom retorted, “did it ever occur to you that the zipper could be repaired?” “That would mean you would have to purchase a zipper of the correct length, rip the broken one out, and then sew in the new one. That is an awful lot of work to go through just for a pair of old, damaged work pants,” Dad told her. Mom just looked at him for a few moments, and just before walking away, said “We’ll see.”
As that conversation had happened on a Friday, the following morning Dad got up and went to don his work clothes. He had some orders for sculpture bases due, and he needed to get to his basement shop early. In the drawer, he found a familiar-looking pair of “tie-dyed” navy work pants. He was about to make another issue of the broken zipper when he looked down at the fly and noticed a rather ingenious “fix.” Since the tab on the zipper was missing, and she had never seen replacement zipper-tabs available in any store, Mom had simply found an old small paper-clip, and threaded it through the part of the zipper to which the tab had been attached. It was a perfect substitute, and worked very well until the day the pants came truly to the end of their useful life – except as a rag, of course.
So, now! You tell me: who won that battle of ingenuity? No contest in my book. Mom couldn’t (or wouldn’t) calculate the square root of 397.24 in her head, but by golly, from a practical standpoint, Mom was genius enough. . . And as long as he lived, my Dad always counted himself among the men through whose wives God had blessed with all the abundance of enough. . .