The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 August 2005

Rinse, then spin

Why are so many young adult men still living with the parental units? Forget economic pressures, overpriced rentals, and all the other obvious factors. What keeps the boys at home is laundry:

I think it's safe to say that most men have next to no idea how the pile of filthy, sweaty, stinking, and otherwise noisome clothing they leave on the bathroom floor in the morning, or in a hamper if they've had enough training, finds itself cleaned, dried, folded, and deposited in one’s dresser drawers. It is an inspiring tale, filled with drama and human interest, and most men know as little about it as they do about photosynthesis, or possibly even less, since a lot of guys think that photosynthesis involves using their personal computer to digitally paste a female celebrity's face onto the nude body of a centerfold. There are honorable exceptions to this general ignorance; the men of the United States armed forces know how to do their own laundry and how to do it well, and I think that rates a big salute from the rest of us; and the many single men who've bucked the stay at home syndrome and moved away from hearth and home, kith and kin, and all the other alliterative aliases for their mothers. This skill, unfortunately, deteriorates at an exponential rate after marriage, which may explain why laundry is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States and why court battles over who gets custody of the fabric softener tend to get vicious.

Actually, I did a fair amount of the wash when I was wed, although I suspect I was motivated at least in part by the desire to avoid doing some other unpleasant task.

And it is indeed true that, single again, I have taken some steps to reduce the amount of wash that needs to be done around here, but that's another story.

[T]heories abound as to why this aversion to detergent exists, the most popular (and the oldest) coming from the psychoanalytic school founded by Sigmund Freud, which holds that men subconsciously regard washing clothes as a sign of latent homosexuality, something on the order of putting ketchup on a hot dog, and therefore an unendurable threat to their masculinity. This school of thought has many critics, who say that the half-cooked food in the Freudian school's cafeteria is having an obvious deleterious effect on the practice of psychology. The leading critic of this school of psychological thought was my late grandmother, who held that the reason why men did not do their own laundry was that the vast majority of men are just bone-lazy.

Count this as a vote for explanation B.

Posted at 10:20 AM to Dyssynergy


More evidence that I was not meant for the current version of domestic bliss lies in heaps and piles behind me and all around the hamper. Sigh.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:48 AM on 13 August 2005

I've never had a problem with washing the laundry, but believe me, I can think of a thousand things that are higher on the priorities list than -putting it away-. Many's the time that I simply wore clean clothes out of the laundry basket......

Posted by: unimpressed at 11:23 AM on 13 August 2005

I'm not a laundry-averse male, but I'll give a big 'ol AMEN to the putting it away part. It's like, "I just did all this work folding you and now you want me to WHAT?"

I have been known to talk to my laundry on occasion. It doesn't talk back.

Posted by: Erica at 1:25 PM on 13 August 2005

"Ketchup on a hot dog" is a sign of latent homosexuality?

Who came up with that?

What about chili dogs? Sounds like that would crown you King Latent Homosexual of the Universe. But, you'd be missing out on tasty Chili Dog-ness.

Posted by: aldahlia at 5:37 PM on 13 August 2005

Unimpressed and Erica nail it. Real men (as opposed to those artificial ones you find in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart) don't have a problem with washing and drying -- after all, a laundry appliance is just another form of power tool -- but it's the folding and putting away that just doesn't seem right.

When Mr. Maytag invents a machine to do those things, guys will be so "on" the whole laundry-doing thing, we'll horde the detergent the way we horde the TV remote.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:14 PM on 13 August 2005

I go for the bone-lazy theory. In fact, I used to just buy more skivvies rather than do a wash.

Also, I have to mention that I've never heard of putting ketchup in chili. Chili on a dog - yes. Ketchup on a dog is un-American.

Posted by: Mike at 9:40 AM on 14 August 2005