Column: Cycles of fear


When our new washer and dryer arrived last week, I watched as the two behemoths were installed by two other behemoths. “Don’t I get instructions?” I asked before they left. I was handed a 94-page manual. In four languages.

Our laundry room resembles the cockpit of a 747. Between the two machines there are more than three dozen buttons. They light up when touched and emit a series of short, annoying beeps, as if trying to communicate with me like in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

Our old washer had two settings. Going from a normal cycle to a gentle cycle is not something a man does lightly, so I never messed with that. My wife sometimes ventured there, but for the most part, the Wolfsies put a normal spin on things.

These machines look so imposing, we were afraid to go into the room. We walked back and forth in front of the door for several days, avoiding the inevitable. Things were piling up outside and I knew we couldn’t hold out indefinitely. But I didn’t want to be first — nor did Mary Ellen.

I scanned the buttons and eyed the options like silk, quick wash and wool. One setting said hand washables, but I’m not going to stick my mitts in there while that monster is turning. The setting for bulky items scares the cat half to death. One setting says sanitize, which I had thought was a given for every cycle.

The dryer has a setting called super-hot, which I told my wife was especially for her. If we had been in a fancy restaurant with a glass of wine, that might have gone over well, but we were standing in a room knee-deep in dirty sheets and pillowcases.

My favorite button is the one that adjusts the volume of the other buttons, so if you are down in the basement you can hear the machine upstairs alerting you that your clothes are done. I’m amazed Mary Ellen and I ever managed without this feature. 

I have to go now. My socks are calling.