I hate doing laundry.
Chris is fond of asking me how I could possible ‘hate’ something I never do. That is when I am forced to remind him of a laundry situation that occurred 19 years ago. As a direct result of my attempt at laundering, his manhood was questioned for approximately one full year.
The summer of 1993 was brutally hot in Philadelphia. We often stumbled out of our freshman gross anatomy lab gasping for a hint of fresh air. The sticky city smog was miserably inadequate at clearing out our nostrils. The formaldehyde/death smell over time seemed to actually emanate from our pores. Eventually, hours under a hot shower and 14 shampoo-rinse-repeat cycles would dim the stench just enough.
Imagine the tenacity of that scent in our lab coats? We learned very early on that we would need to have just one set of clothes to wear in Gross lab. That set would, after finals, be ceremoniously put to flame. One Friday afternoon we reluctantly decided that the “one outfit”: labcoat, sweats, t-shirt would have to be washed–body odor finally was beginning to overcome formaldehyde.
Being the prototypical impoverished med student, I literally dug around in my sofa to scrounge together the six quarters needed to wash and dry one load. As I triumphantly counted out the coins, I had a lightbulb moment. What better way to woo my would be boyfriend (against his will) than to offer to wash his “gross” clothes? Not only is Chris lazy, he is also undeniably cheap. The chance to save a buck fifty on laundry was not to be missed.
As I listened to the whir of the machine I fantasized about a lifetime of washing my beloved’s clothes. I even considered pressing his lab coat nicely–if that didn’t earn me a date….
As the washer spinning halted, my fantasy too screeched to a halt.
Our metaphoric blending was not so romantic. Along with Chris’ white lab coat, I had washed my bright red sweat pants…in hot water..and bleach.
Wash after wash later and there was no way to hide the pinkness in his coat. Head low, I presented him with his clean but undeniably feminized lab coat.
Those of you that know my now husband know exactly what he did next. Without a moment’s hesitation, he slipped that lab coat on and marched right into his lab group.
Several unfortunate events were in line this particular week. First, his group consisted of four of the most chauvinistic-frat-brother guys in our class. Second, we were about to dissect the male genital organs.
Keep in mind that to help med students overcome the mental trauma of cutting through a dead persons organs day after day, they often dehumanize parts of the anatomy. At Chris’ table, their cadaver was respectfully known as “Fred.” Fred’s skull that had been sawed off weeks before remained ever near by as a “bowl” where in various organs, bits of tissue, unidentified body parts etc would be deposited to be dealt with later.
So, on that fateful day, as the lab time came to a close, one of Chris’ lab partners approached him smirking. “Hey, Meyer” he called. “You left this back at the table.”
In his out stretched hand he held Fred’s calvarium (skull bowl) and in it, a meticulously laid out, perfectly dissected but unmistakeable penis.
After the guffaws and back slapping subsided, Chris simply shrugged, peeled off his pink labcoat and placed it in his locker….from which he proceeded to remove it and wear it unflinchingly every day for the next 10 months.
That, my friends, is why I adore this man and why I absolutely refuse to do laundry.