Fitted to be tied
This is about my ex-wife, and kinda about my brother, but mostly about fitted sheets.
Have you ever tried to fold a fitted sheet? Admit it – most folks sorta fold away at it but mostly just wad it up so it will fit on the shelf. Sure – we always start off with the best of intentions but the damned things just don’t take to being pleated.
But let’s step back for just a moment because it just would be fun if I didn’t properly set the stage.
In one of my dumber decisions I didn’t close on my house until after I was married. Since I foolishly held the antiquated notion that things like marriage were supposed to be forever I didn’t spend much time figuring the angles – or protecting my flank. As a result the house purchased with my money and my credit and my sweat equity became our little (community property) love nest.
My house wasn’t the prettiest but it was graced with a huge lot (for a mature suburban neighborhood) that was large enough to boast a separate driveway on two streets and a massive freestanding garage. There was seemingly endless room for projects and playgrounds and still plenty to share. For a guy just starting out (or staring over) it held the promise of being a safe haven and a good place to put down roots. Too bad it wasn’t to be.
When her brother lost his apartment we let him crash at our place for a month (or three). At a later time I had a brother who needed the same opportunity and we set him up in his trailer on a corner of the lot where he could come and go as he pleased. I got no pushback from her – as a matter of fact she took pains to allow as how it was a “great idea” so I thought everything was cool. Man am I thick sometimes!
But what about the sheets?!
OK, hold your horses, I’m getting to it.
Having my brother around the place was working out real well. He was there when the kids came home from school. He helped cut wood for the fireplace. And since we had always been close it was convenient to conversation. All was not well in Tinytown however. The Moody One had been especially bitchy of late but since she was so inclined so often how was one to tell?
One of her particular rituals was doing the laundry. We had talked at times about farming some of the duty out to the kids now that they were getting older but she was of the opinion that they would just “F it up”. After a while I noticed that she held that opinion about nearly every endeavor that represented normal chores for kids. It wasn’t that she didn’t want them to work – it was that her minimum standard threshold was far too high for mere mortals (like children) to ever reach. So she did the laundry herself (apparently I failed to hit the mark either ;’)
When a load of clothes were finished drying she would haul them out into the living room (even though we had a table in the utility room) and fold them. As she would fold she would pile things up on the sofa. Including the fitted sheets that (apparently) she was the only person in the world who could correctly fold. And there they would stay. For days sometimes. Now I came from a large family of modest means and things like furniture were meant to be used – as furniture. But in our little hutch furniture was meant as object lessons. I had a rocking chair that was a hand~me~down from my folks and my favorite. She had a La-Z-Boy armchair that her mother bought for her – and that no one else could sit in. So when she used the sofa as a utility table that meant that there was no place for the kids to sit. Or guests for that matter (it’s funny how obvious all of this is in hindsight).
Dunderhead that I am it took my brother patiently pointing out what was so obvious to him and oblivious to me. This was a passive-aggressive game she was playing. One meant to make people uncomfortable and to drive them away but one done so casually and surreptitiously that we weren’t supposed to recognize that we were being played.
I was dubious so he said, “OK, just watch” and he walked over to the sofa and carefully rearranged a few piles of clothes. Only a few and only a tiny movement. I shook my head skeptically. “No one is that petty” I protested. But deep down I was already on the cusp of the truth.
That afternoon (my brother since departed from the scene She came home. It was only about five minutes before she started having a fit. “Who’s been messing with the laundry?! She thundered (is it still laundry once it’s been washed, dried, and folded?). She angrily summoned the kids out from their homework detail to interrogate them. When I saw how strident she was I took the blame saying that I had bumped into the sofa while carrying something.
“What were you carrying?!” She demanded.
“Oh, I had a box of car parts” I lied.
“Where are they now?!” She persisted.
“I took them out to the garage” I invented.
From her look I could tell that she didn’t believe me but she let it drop. I couldn’t believe that anyone would/could ever notice something that minuscule but I had just been presented with a valuable object lesson. And my main concern was shielding the children from her wrath.
Later my brother returned (while She was away of course) to validate his thesis. “I don’t know how you saw it coming but you were right” I reluctantly admitted.
“Watch this” he says and goes out through the kitchen and into the utility room. There he showed me the washing machine. “You see this?” he asked, pointing into the machine, “She has taken to locking up the machine by leaving laundry in it. “I’ve been taking her clothes out so I can do my laundry, putting hers back in afterwards, and running a rinse cycle to disguise the fact”.
As a test he reached into the washer and stirred the clothes about – just a little.
Sure enough, we had another 4-alarm emergency meeting when she got home that afternoon. How does she do that?! Does she go around memorizing the placement of every bit of flotsam in the entire house?
In another conversation my brother insisted, “I know that you’re busy trying to work and take care of the kids and go to school” he said, “but she’s maneuvering to get you out of the house. She’s withdrawn any interest in civility with me and doesn’t want me here anymore. What’s more, she doesn’t want you here anymore either. She’s setting traps for me, for you, and for the kids. I’ll get out just as quickly as I can but you know I’m still not working so I have nowhere to go. Watch your ass”.
To be continued…