Life Unedited

I've been thinking a lot lately about housekeeping mishaps. Like fashion magazines and stick-thin models do for body image, Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart Living create beautiful pictures of totally imaginary things and then make us all hate ourselves for not being having a living room as amazing as so-and-so who just finished renovating his vacation cottage in the Hamptons.

I try to celebrate my ridiculous mistakes and domestic calamities, in the same way that I try to celebrate women and men who have not been airbrushed, and food that is not full of chemicals. Mistakes are how we learn.

For instance, shortly after getting married, I learned a very important lesson about checking my laundry carefully to make sure nothing has been sorted wrong...

The following is a true story. I wrote this two years ago, but I've never posted it on Scrimpalicious until now.

I am afraid of the dark.

As a result, every time I go into our basement at night (where the overhead lights are all burned out), I am convinced that I am going to die. Our basement is a terrifying place, full of the carcasses of someone else's antique furniture and bicycles, multiple boilers and furnaces, eerie storage rooms where the darkness is so intense that it looks solid, and, for some reason, a toilet.

My terror at having to venture into the basement is my only excuse for what happened next.

You see, I had to wash our sheets today. I've been meaning to do it all weekend and, with one thing and another, it just kept getting put off. I realized this afternoon that time was running out and I really had to get it done, so I stripped the bed, bundled up the sheets, and made my way downstairs, noticing only as I walked toward the door to the basement steps that it was already almost completely dark outside.

It's ok, I told myself reassuringly. There's a lamp plugged in next to the washing machine. Just get to the lamp and turn it on, and you'll be alright.

So I girded up my mental loins, clutched our sheets to my chest, held my breath, and walked down the stairs into the darkness.

There was just enough light coming in from the windows to cast bizarre shadows over the spot where the lamp had been. It wasn't our lamp, so I wasn't particularly worried about theft. I was, however, aghast to realize that I was in the basement, in the dark, with no way to turn on a light.

My first impulse was to turn and run right back up the stairs, dirty sheets and all. But I knew that Mr. Scrimp was expecting to come home to nice, crisp, clean sheets on our bed after work, and I didn't want to disappoint him. I made my way to the washing machine, holding up my cell phone in an attempt to light my way a little bit (it didn't really work).

There were strange noises coming from the other end of the basement, an area where I have never been, because it is always dark, even when lights are on. Things creaked and groaned, and something rustled in a way that makes me almost positive that there must have been some sort of animal there. I opened the washing machine, shoved everything blindly in, dumped in the last of our laundry soap, and started the cycle.

And then I ran. I mean it. I was out of that basement seconds later, and my heart didn't stop racing until I'd double-bolted the kitchen door and turned on every single light in the house.

My fear of that basement is my only excuse for what happened next.

You see, normally I check the laundry very carefully as I put it into the machine. I look at each individual article to make sure that I'm not mixing things that shouldn't be mixed. Laundry is just another variety of domesticated chemistry, after all, and anybody who's taken chemistry knows that you need to be careful about how you put things together.

But it was dark, and I was terrified and embarrassed that I was terrified, so I rushed. And besides, it was dark. Did I mention how dark it was? And the scary noises?

I thought about just not putting the sheets in the dryer till Mr. Scrimp got home to either do it for me or hold my hand while I went back down into the abyss, but I knew he was expecting clean, dry sheets when he got home. So, when his brother stopped by to pick something up, I asked him to come down in the basement with me and hold off any monster attacks while I transferred the laundry. Being a good brother-in-law, he agreed.

It was still really dark though, so I just blindly felt around in the machine for all the sheets/pillowcases/etc and moved them into the dryer.

When Mr. Scrimp did finally got home, there were no sheets on the bed. But, just as he walked in, the buzzer went for the dryer.

"It's dark in the basement. There's no light, and I was ascared," I said. Yes, I really did say 'ascared'. That should tell you how ascared I really was.

"Oh," he said. "Is there dinner?"

"Tell you what," said I.  "I will make you some dinner if you go down into the horrible basement and get the sheets and make the bed.

We called it a deal and he went to get the sheets. When he came back up, he had a funny look on his face.

"Well," he said, "we have yellow sheets now."

I think I made a "bguh?" kind of noise as I turned to look. You see, when I'd pulled the sheets off the bed, they'd fallen on the floor and gotten tangled up with a very pretty orange and red scarf that I recently bought. In the dark, of course, I didn't notice that it was there, so the scarf went into the washing machine on the hot/whites cycle with our formerly pristine white sheets.

Now, all's well that ends well, so I will say that the dye mixed very evenly with the sheets, and now it just looks like we've owned very pretty butter yellow bedsheets all along. We agreed that we'd both be more upset if the color wasn't so attractive.

Still, I really liked our sheets. They were a wedding present, and I find white sheets to be a delightful thing. I guess now I'll have to buy some new ones.

I felt like such an idiot. What a rookie mistake! Mistakes like this are the purview of bachelors and frat boys, not domestic goddesses in training. 

But it was so, so dark.

So, how about it, readers? What was your worst domestic disaster?

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