Laundry Lessons

Author - Newkid

Rating - G

Disclaimer - SMK and it’s characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon.

Feedback - Yes, please. (but be kind about it)

Timeline - They have been married for a year. Everyone knows and all is well.

Lee woke late from his slumber. He had been on a stake-out until the middle of the night so Amanda let him sleep in. Lee had the day off and planned on doing a whole lot of nothing. He made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen to pour himself a cold cup of coffee. That’s when he saw the note. It read : “Lee, I hope you slept well. Mother is gone for the day so don’t worry about her. I’ll see you tonight. All my love, Amanda P.S. Could you please do some laundry?”

‘Laundry!?’ Lee read the note again. Surely Amanda knew that Lee Stetson, world class Federal Agent and all around man’s man did not do laundry. Why, here he was in his mid thirties and he had never done a load of laundry in his life. Growing up he would throw his dirty clothes in his hamper and every Wednesday it would appear like magic, clean and folded in his quarters. When he was out on his own he had hired a laundry service and now Amanda or Dotty always did it for him. Lee physically straightened and puffed out his chest in a silent vote of self confidence. “I can do this,” he said out loud. “It’s just laundry. How hard can it be?” He headed into the laundry room to retrieve a basket. He was an agent, after all, and had observed Amanda with a basket of clothes at her hip many times. “Okay, now, for the dirty clothes.” He marched up the stairs two at a time and went straight for the boys’ hamper. He took out a shirt and put it in the basket. Then a pair of worn out jeans. Deciding, finally, that there must be a faster way, he picked up the hamper and dumped all of it’s contents into the now heaping basket. “There.”

He brought his load to the laundry room and eyed the washing machine carefully. “Let’s see...” he said, analyzing the three buttons and single dial. “Hot, warm or cold?” He pushed the hot button and mumbled, “Nothing will come clean with cold water, that’s for sure. Why do they even have that as an option on these things?” Then he aimed his attention at the dial. “Delicates....sturdy.....permanent press...Yes! Permanent press, that way nothing will have to be ironed! Why does Amanda complain about ironing when she could just use this cycle?” He turned the dial and stood back. Nothing happened. He lifted the lid expecting to see water but found none. “What the...” he questioned. With the lid now open, he found the instructions printed on the inside of the door. He stood, reading and mumbling until finally exclaiming, “A ha! Pull nob out...okay.” He shut the lid again and pulled out the nob. Instantly his ear registered the hissing of water cascading into the tub. He quickly reached down and dumped the entire basket of clothes into the washtub, cramming them in tightly so he could shut the lid. “Soap. Soap, soap, soap,” he sang, looking in the cabinets for the big white bottle he saw Amanda haul home from the store only days before. He picked up the heavy jug and read the directions. “For large loads use one capful,” he read aloud. Pouring the pinkish liquid into the cap he made a face. “Yuck, no wonder my clothes always smell like flowers,” he stated in slight disgust. He poured the soap over the top of the clothes and closed the lid again. “There,” he said, patting the side of the washer. “Piece of cake.”

Lee spent the rest of the day washing and drying three more loads of laundry and making his infamous Lee’s Lasagna for dinner. He was on a roll. After putting his lasagna in the oven he found the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed everyone’s rooms, plus the living room. Then he dusted everything he could reach and even cleaned the fridge. Even though he and Amanda had been married for a year and he had been living in their house for almost four months, this was the first time he had even been alone in their house. He was enjoying the domestic roll he was playing today and secretly hoped that Amanda and his moth-in-law would be impressed.

He was taking out the garbage when he heard his step-sons running up the sidewalk. “Hi boys!” he greeted.

“Hi, Lee,” they yelled unison. The three barged through the door together. Lee noticed the curious look on Philip’s face first.

“What’s that smell?” Philip asked.

“Which smell?” Lee questioned. “The laundry soap? The lasagna cooking? The furniture polish? Or are you smelling the vanilla beads your mother put in the vacuum cleaner?”

Philip and Jamie listened to Lee’s list and let out a hoot. “Alright!” they shouted, giving each other a high five.

Lee was confused. “What’s that for?” he asked.

“Wow, thanks, Lee,” Jamie beamed. “It’s my job to do the dusting and Philip’s to do the vacuuming. Now we don’t have to!” The boys gave Lee a big smile and trotted up the stairs.

“Yeah...well...just don’t get used to me doing your chores for you,” Lee hollered up the stairs, knowing full well that he wasn`t’t being heard.

Just then the timer for the oven and the buzzer for the dryer went off simultaneously. Lee took his lasagna out of the oven to cool a bit and then grabbed his last empty laundry basket and opened the dryer door. “Last load,” he said to no one. He began haphazardly dumping the hot clothes into the basket, pushing them down tighter so they would all fit. He held up a tiny red sweater and wondered just who it belonged to. ‘I thought this was Dotty’s load’ he wondered. ‘This thing is almost too small for Jamie.’ Shrugging, he laid it on the top and brought it into the living room with the rest of the clean clothes. He figured he had done a good enough job getting everything washed and dried and didn’t bother folding anything. Each person had their own basket to take to their rooms to put away. He admired his line of laundry on the floor, gave himself a pat on the back for a job well done and sat down to read the paper. A half hour later he was still on the couch when Dotty and Amanda came home. He greeted them at the door with a kiss for his wife and a proud smile for his mother-in-law.

“Look, I did the laundry,” he smiled, pointing to the baskets on the floor. “And, I made supper, swept and mopped, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned the refrigerator and took out the garbage.” Lee was proud as a peacock, standing there with his arms clasped behind his back, rocking back and forth on his feet.

“Well, I should leave you home more often,” Amanda grinned, giving her husband another kiss.

“Lee?” Dotty called from the living room. “Are these mine?”

Lee poked his head around the corner and answered, “Yep. Everyone has their own basket. That one is yours.”

Dotty inspected the load more closely. She picked up the red sweater from the top and cried, “My sweater! You shrunk it!”

“Huh?” Lee grunted.

“Oh, Lee, all of my clothes are pink. Didn’t you separate them?” Dotty asked, holding up a pink sock.

“Uh,” Lee stammered, “separate?”

Amanda took the sock from her mother and said, “Yeah, you know, whites, lights, darks. You can’t wash them all together, the colors will bleed.”

“Bleed?” Lee questioned.

Amanda began inspecting her own load and commented, “Oh, these are all wrinkled. Now I’m going to have to iron.”

“Iron!?” Lee voiced. “I washed everything on permanent press, you shouldn’t have to iron anything! They should all be, well, permanently pressed!” He was getting bugged now. After all, he had done all this work and all they could do was complain about it. Lee was brought out of his silent sulk by the sound of Amanda and Dotty laughing. “And what, pray tell, is so amusing?”

Amanda’s eyes were beginning to water from laughing so hard. “Lee,” she tried to speak, “permanent press is what you use to wash your permanent press clothes on. It’s more like a type of fabric. Kind of like sturdy or delicates. Sturdy would be things like jeans. Delicates would be things like...well...things I won’t mention in the company of my mother.”

Lee’s eyebrows raised. “So, I guess I ruined everyone’s clothes, huh?”

“Oh, honey, we’re glad you tried. I had no idea you didn’t know how to do laundry,” Amanda consoled.

Just then the boys came barreling down the stairs. “Mom, Lee did our chores for us!” Jamie cheered.

Amanda smiled and said, “And he did such a good job that from now on, the dusting and vacuuming belong to him.”

“What?” asked Lee.

“Alright!” the boys shouted.

“But,” Amanda interjected, holding up a finger, “since laundry isn’t exactly Lee’s strong suit and you fellas no longer have a chore, I hereby declare that you, Philip and Jamie King, are now in charge of your own laundry.”

Lee grew a satisfactory smile and the boys grumbled loudly.

Dotty placed a hand on her heart, looked to the heavens and said, “I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this day. The day that my two grandsons begin doing their own laundry. I think I’m going to cry.”

“Yes, mother, I have to agree,” Amanda stated, joining her mother by her side. “It’s a fine day in the West-Stetson-King household. Come on, boys, it’s time for your first lesson in the proper ways to separate the laundry.” She sat her sons down in front of Dotty’s pink clothes and said, “Lesson number one: never, under any circumstances, wash anything red,” she held up her mother’s red sweater as a visual aid, “with something white.” She lifted a blotchy pink sock.

Lee and Dotty formed a small huddle and Lee whispered, “What do you say we test drive the lasagna while Amanda is busy domesticating the boys?”

Dotty smiled and whispered, “You’ve got a date.” And the two snuck out of the room, ignoring the pleading faces of the boys, who were obviously not paying much attention to their mother’s ramblings about colors, water temperatures and the proper use of starch.