A Tale of Two Sweaters

posted in: Awkward, Daily Life, Paris | 3

This post has taken a few days to write due to its deeply personal and somewhat embarrassing nature. It is not about the sights and grandeur of Paris, but rather the first of many fails in acclimating to life in Paris.

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m not a domestic goddess (for clarity, I am a goddess, just not in the domestic sense). I’m fairly useless when it comes to any general-home-care-taking activities, but I still try.

Today’s tale is about laundry. This is typically a chore I do in the US, but I’m inexplicably bad at it. I don’t know why. Invariably, I forget clothes are in the washer so I have to re-wash them after they have been sitting damp for hours. I forget clothes are in the dryer so I have to re-dry them to try to get out some of the wrinkles (I don’t iron). Clothes sometimes emerge from the dryer with weird white spots on them. And I was told a couple of weeks ago while washing my last load of laundry in the US that I’ve been adding bleach incorrectly for the last 7 years (turns out there is an actual dedicated dispenser for it?!). There may be some sort of cause and effect relationship between those last two statements – I can’t confirm. Nevertheless, in a surprising turn of events, these non-existent laundry skills translate pretty similarly to Europe.

In Paris, we have a very small washer-dryer combo machine. When I first saw it, I was intimidated, but I figured…how hard can it be? Best to jump in and get into the routine of daily life. The first few loads were socks, t-shirts, etc. – good things to start flexing my European laundry skills with. They weren’t perfect (not quite dry, far from wrinkle-free, etc.), but still – all these issues seemed surmountable. By the weekend, I thought my vast experience coupled with our actual need to be clothed indicated I was ready to advance to sweaters and nicer tops – you know, things other people actually see on us. I put a load in and went about my day. Somehow, I got pre-occupied with other tasks and forgot they were done washing. I finally went to dry them but I forgot to turn the knob to the dry setting and inadvertently washed them again. After that, I set them for a round of drying. They were still damp when that finished, so I determined they needed an additional round of drying. And when I forgot about the load yet again, they required one more additional round of wrinkle-removal drying.

At this point, this single load had taken nearly the entire day. But when I took them out, they were warm, had a light floral scent, and appeared to be largely wrinkle free. Sure, it had taken most of the day to clean 6 articles of clothing, but things were looking OK. I was even a little impressed. I dumped the clothes on the bed with the intent of folding them immediately when I noticed that S’s sweater was in the load. This would be one of only two sweaters he brought here. I hadn’t realized it was in there. It looked…different. I let out an audible gasp. And in this tiny apartment, he heard me and came over to see what was wrong. I didn’t know what to say as I stared down at his sweater.  It was…let’s say…tres petit.  I’ve shrunk clothes before, but this was on a different scale altogether.

I should note here that nothing I did was out of the ordinary from what I have done in the US, but the consequences were so much more severe. Below are the results. Please note these are nearly identical sweaters – same store, same size, and same material. The one on the left has not been washed yet in Paris by moi. The one on the right is what emerged from the dryer last week.

In unrelated news, I can’t get this song out of my head.

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel, I’ll soon be naked
Lying on the floor (lying on the floor)
I’ve come undone



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3 Responses

  1. Know the feeling! One of my cashmere sweaters shrunk to something smaller than that – all because I forgot to look at the “DRY CLEAN ONLY” tag and threw it in the wash! Never got to wear that sweater even once – mourned its loss for a week!

    • Ohhh. I’m so sorry for your loss. That must have been rough. It’s great to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

  2. Donna Schweer

    You now have a new sweater! Nice move!! 🙂

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