19: A Steamy Romance

19: A Steamy Romance

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

A Steamy Romance

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

~James Matthew Barrie

Walking in the back door, I kick off my shoes and throw my purse on the counter. I can’t wait to sit down. Pulling off my socks, I uncover four raw blisters — badges of pride for a full day on my feet. Although exhilarating, my new job as a substitute teacher is an adjustment after ten years as a stay-at-home mom.

Searching the cupboard for Band-Aids, I notice the clock: 3:30. In just half an hour, my younger daughter will bound off the school bus, bustling with cursive handwriting papers, tales of gym and recess, and complaints about her grumbling stomach.

Rummaging through the cupboard, I find my salvation — a lone bag of microwave popcorn peeking from behind a bag of stale pretzels. Snack dilemma solved, I walk into my bedroom to change into jeans and collect two overflowing laundry baskets. Though I’d love to read a magazine or watch Oprah, I know I’d better throw in a load of my husband’s Dockers and Polo shirts. How much longer can I ignore my daughters’ hampers, overflowing with grimy jeans and spaghetti sauce-stained sweatshirts?

Guess I’d better wash the jeans before dinner. I can do the whites later.

Just as I’m about to drown in self-pity, I stop dead in my tracks. I rub my eyes to make sure I’m not seeing things. Could that be a row of clean, perfectly pressed pants hanging in my closet? Weren’t those the same Dockers and jeans that sat crumpled in a heap before I left for work?

Pulling on a pair of crisply creased khakis, I hurry into the laundry room. Where are the piles of grape jelly-encrusted T-shirts and pizza-stained capris? Sunlight glistens through the window, spotlighting my glorious discovery: two baskets of spotless jeans, tees, and sweatshirts, lovingly folded and sorted, as if by magic.

I touch the clothes to make sure they’re for real. The laundry is done. All of it.

A warm tingly feeling, not unlike puppy love, jitters through my veins. He did this, just for me. I’m light and giddy, like a schoolgirl with a secret admirer.

As soon as the garage door creaks open, I’m there, ready with a welcoming kiss. “You didn’t have to do all the laundry.”

My husband shrugs, as if washing clothes is some type of recreational sport. “Just threw a few loads in during lunch. No big deal.”

No big deal? A mountain of mind-numbing whites, darks, and cool-water washables? Sudsing and sorting and ironing, too? For a girl pressed for time, this was beyond romantic. Forget the chocolates and roses. Turns out, Tide and Clorox emit their own type of pheromones.

After fifteen years of marriage, I’ve discovered the secret to romance: a husband who whistles while he Woolites. What could be sexier than a guy who knows the difference between the spin cycle and permanent press? Nothing beats walking into the bedroom and finding my husband plugged into his iPod, dancing around the ironing board and pressing his dress shirts.

Now that I’m a working girl, I know it’s wise to accept help in the domestic department. A closet full of perfectly pressed pants is a fine surprise any day. As far as I know, there are no heavenly rewards for sacrificial sudsing and sorting. I’d be better off listening to E.B. White’s words of advice: “We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.” For me, laundry is arduous: a weekly mountain to climb when I’d rather be playing with my girls. Why not accept a reprieve from a man who looks awfully smooth moving back and forth behind the steam iron? Why not teach my girls that washing clothes isn’t necessarily “women’s work?” If I pass the laundry basket into my husband’s able arms, my hands will finally be free: to hug my girls and maybe even relax with a good magazine.

Suds, steam, and heat are surefire ingredients for true passion.

Add an ironing board and a helpful husband for love that spreads far beyond the laundry room.


~Stefanie Wass

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