A Shirt A Towel and One Damn Sock

by | Sep 11, 2023 | 0 comments

A few months ago a shirt went missing. I knew it was someplace because, well, where could it go? I never wear it out of the house. I wear it to bed. It was the mauve one not the ochre one of the two in one from Costco. Sturdy, simple, wore it to bed over pajama bottoms. I never wore the ochre one because I look awful in orange of any shade. Besides I just  didn’t like it. But the purplish mauve was just  fine. It let me sleep. An ochre one would have awakened me during the night, especially during the Trump administration.  I threw it in the wash with other things in my hamper, then threw it in the drier with the same  group. When it was all dry, I put it in the laundry basket and started folding. The shirt wasn’t there. It had vanished. Everything else was in that basket except the shirt. I’m a mom. Moms find things.

“I can’t find my term paper! Mom!”

give it a beat

“How did you find that?”

“It was right under the papers on top of the pile.”

The shirt was no where. Not still stuck to the inside of the washer. Not put in Meyshe’s drawers by accident. Not dropped on the floor en route. Not misplaced among the bedsheets. Not adhered via static electricity to another item. No? Then you hit the next tier. Not in the drawer with the cloth napkins, not dragged into a corner by the cat. Not outside being used as a garden rag if Meyshe couldn’t tell the difference. Okay. Not in the car. The last time it was in the car was when I brought it home from Costco and it was still in the package. Getting desperate are we? Not  somehow stuffed down the garbage disposal. Not being used as a mouse pad. Not in the refrigerator or freezer. Not stewing on the stove. 

You get the mood.

I am not good at giving up. Proof is that I’m still here after luck splattered over the whole good/horrible axis has pelted me all my life. But I gave up on the shirt. It was relegated to the massive extraterrestrial landfill of missing one damn socks that is floating out there in some numbered galaxy (so obscure it doesn’t even have a name). Many many years ago I thought I’d solved the one damn sock mystery when I got a look at Frank Zappa’s. He had his feet up on the recording booth console and, my dears, they were special. Special and unmatched. But I was wrong.  He could only have been responsible for a small fraction of the vast world of missing one socks. He was mortal.

The shirt showed up two months after it had gone missing. It had migrated on its own power to a spare bedroom that Meyshe uses for lifting weights. I’d actually looked in that room several times. But that was evidently before the resurrection or exhumation, depending upon the holiness of the garment in question.

Yesterday, my mother’s dining room table was delivered by the furniture restorer. It’s a mid century mahogany set with four leaves that extend it to seat twelve. My mother had the table top covered in imitation blond wood formica, not pretty but practical. She saw three hyperactive kids tearing up the house as young children and foresaw the damage they would soon be doing to the table top with their homework and obliviousness: protractors poking holes, ink, paint, solvents, chemical spills, hot pots set down without trivets, glasses of liquids left on the table to bleach the finish with condensation of fluids. I don’t remember ever seeing that table without the formica. After my mother died, I was the only sibling who had no dining table and anyway, no one else wanted it. I’d always wanted to restore it. So here it was, returned to its infant purity. They brought it wrapped in moving blankets. They unwrapped the parts, tossed the blankets on the floor, then assembled the table. My first thought, honestly, was, “Thank God we finally have a surface to fold laundry on.” Sorry Mom. 

And that’s the first thing we did. Meyshe had brought down the laundry basket before the table arrived, so we started to fold.  There was one purple bath sheet missing. I’d put two bath sheets in the washer, transferred two bath sheets to the drier and Meyshe had unloaded the drier to bring it all downstairs to fold. Some where or some time, one enormous purple bath sheet had vanished. Now, a shirt could easily get lost. A sock, absolutely, nearly mandatory with every wash. But a whole 40″ X 72″ intensely purple bath sheet? How could it hop away? It was not in the washer stuck to the drum. It was not in the drier. It had not fallen out of the basket in transport. It had not been taken out preemptively, folded and put away in the drawer where it should be. Not misplaced in Meyshe’s bathroom. Not still in the hamper which of course I knew because I put both towels in the washer and both in the drier. It had not somehow slipped behind the drier, which would mean it passed through a large box of rags like a ghost. Not in the drawer with the cloth napkins. Not mistaken for a tablecloth and put in with the others. Not in the spare bedroom with the weights. Not under, over or next to any bed. Not in the yard as a garden rag. Nowhere. Forty by seventy two inches of blazingly purple bath sheet, erased from existence without a trace. Of course that’s not true. It exists. It exists where we haven’t looked, or it’s hiding in plain sight, like I do at a party.

Meyshe and I were pondering the mystery of matter, anti matter and doesn’t matter as we looked out over the beautiful young top of the dining table. He said, “Maybe one of the workers accidentally took it.”  He likely meant “steal” but the concept could have been right. I called the furniture restorer.

“Hi Rick. Could you go check and see if there’s a large purple bath sheet mixed up in the moving blankets you took back when you left?” 

I had great hopes for this. For one, it could easily have happened. For two, it would restore my sanity. Things don’t just disappear. We tell our children that when they’re distraught and can’t find something. But no one was telling me. I’m too old for that shit.

Rick got back on the phone.

“Nope. Not here.”

There is something I can do to force the bath sheet to come out of hiding. I can go buy a new one. It is not uncommon that after a couple who’s given up trying to conceive adopts a baby, the woman finally gets pregnant. That could be a myth, a curiosity based on nothing. But Frank Zappa is dead. That distant numbered galaxy is not accepting towels of this size. I am  not good at giving up.


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