Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Dry Cleaning Song

I just ordered a beautiful lavender cashmere sweater for my perfect wife Marie, a gift for Valentine's Day. Man, online shopping is for me. Have them wrap it for you too, it's paradise for a guy who wants to get something nice for his sweetheart, but hates to wrap gifts. Basically, most guys. Making this order for cashmere reminded me of a true, embarrassing story, but I am gonna tell it anyway.

Since Marie works full-time, and I am the semi-retired househusband, I volunteer to do some extras around the household, for Marie, and Blaine too. It's the least I can do. So I find myself running lots of errands, picking up medicine at Walgreens, or doing some other chore that neither of them have time to do. They both know they can request my assistance. I tell them I live to serve, and it's the truth.

Just this past year, Marie gathered me into the foyer of our home one day, to explain the variety of bags on the floor there. She had done one of those closet "clean sweeps", and had prepared several bags of clothes for delivery to different destinations. "This one", she told me, "goes to "Dress For Success", a non profit organization Marie favors, which provides interview suits and other clothes for those who are applying for work but can't afford the necessary clothing. "This one", she continued, "goes to Goodwill". "And lastly", she spoke, "This one is mine, and it goes to the dry cleaners, okay?" I concurred. Just to make sure we were on the same page, she repeated her request, several times, and went to work. Later that day, I sped off on errands and included, among them, the clothes project.

So I go to Dress for Success, and they pick through the bags and give me some back. I put the clothes back in the car, and continue to the Goodwill, which is in the neighborhood. I park by the donation station, and a guy helps me pull the bags out of the van, and this is sick part which I will expand on........I gave him everything.........including..........are you tearing up yet?.........remember this is a true wife's dry cleaning.............many hundreds of dollars of cashmere dresses and sweaters.

The next day, once again in the foyer of our house, I tell Marie, just in conversing, that they did not take everything she had prepared for Dress For Success, that I had to take more things to the Goodwill. And then she says...."What about my dry cleaning, when can we pick that up?"

I'm not sure, I can't remember it all, but I think at that moment, I almost passed out. Yet, being the manly man, I sucked it up and confessed right away, 'cause I knew there was gonna be stuff to do, like, for example, race to the Goodwill, which we immediately did. This is not to say, however, that I was not in shock and punishing myself inside like one of those twisted self flagellating religious zealots in a made for TV movie. All kidding aside, I realize that my "spaciness", in this case, is completely unacceptable. But as Joel Hodgson, the comedian, once said..."Sometimes, I go into my own little world....but, that's okay.....they know me there."

Of course, there was nothing to be found at the Goodwill. If any of that cashmere even made it to the racks, it would have been vacuumed up by some lucky soul in minus time. I told Marie I would make it right for her, of course, and considered which credit card I was going to use. The only problem was, it was Spring, and cashmere is not a big Spring item.

When Marie tells this story, with a bit of a twinkle in her eye, since time has passed, she loves to tell the part about how it wasn't enough that she felt utterly and completely awful about what had happened, but since I felt so bad, and had gone into brooding man mode, she had to kick into taking care of me and my feelings too. Sorry honey.

But the next day, we went to a nice department store Marie likes, and I think she felt a bit better when we were done there, even if it wasn't cashmere we bought, because for one thing I had made an effort to restore her closet. The other thing was, and Marie relishes this part too when she tells the story, the salespersons in the women's department were fawning all over her with pity, not in a phony way either. The news of what had happened transferred from one woman to another with lightning speed. I had found myself a chair by the escalators, to brood, and to be ready for the credit card transaction.

There was another guy sitting by the escalators, also waiting for his wife, and eventually, just because I'm a quirky fella, I told him the story. His reaction was sort of a combination of pity and fear, but before I was done telling it, he was laughing his ass off. I told him, as I left for the credit card call, "now don't you go and tell your wife this story", and he gave me this look like, "oh no of course I won't", but the look in his eye said he couldn't wait to tell her. I knew perfectly well he would.

And of course to top it all off, and much to my sweet and most understandi
ng wife's dismay, I wrote a song about it, you know, just so, in future years, she can remember it all and relive it any time she wants. I know I am going to be buying cashmere clothing for Marie for the rest of my natural life, but maybe that's a good thing.

I have posted the song, which is sung by my alter-ego Lester Stone, and once again energetically played by friend and guitarist Tim Ellis, who, as a husband, has never done one thing wrong in his life. To hear it, click this link.

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Pacific Beach, Washington, United States