By COLLEEN LEDDY
David had already used up the column material our granddaughter Caroline generated during her holiday visit, so when I came across an envelope this past Sunday jotted with notes about pickles, potato chips, Puritans and fried potato sandwiches, I was immediately thrilled that I had a healthy start to a column. I only slightly vaguely remembered that I possibly maybe might have already written about it, but it seemed so fresh.
I was so delighted! It was such a better topic than the crazy dream I had just before waking up from an unintentional nap. I had sat down on the couch next to David just after he laid down to close his eyes for a short rest between writing stories.
The next thing I knew, I was leaning back against the couch dazed with fatigue. As he started getting up, I went down.
“Just for five minutes,” I said aloud.
I don’t know how much longer it was before I finally came to, but when I did, I was still in the thick of a dream that I thought was great fodder for a column.
You know how that goes. You wake up with such a vivid dream, your first impulse is to share it in detail with the first person you see because it’s so interesting. Poor David. He has suffered through the telling of many dreams that were so rich and real when they played in my brain, but came out lackluster in the telling.
We were staying with someone...it seemed like cousin Jeff in Portland, Oregon, when somehow we had the chance to stay in a fancy hotel because there was an extra room in a fancy suite.
The room belonged to a singer and pianist who had just performed. They had gotten done early so returned before we had fallen asleep. The husband came into the hall next to our room and started getting undressed—and then went into the little room next to us which had a bathtub in it. When the water drained out of his bath, he started using the tub as a toilet...I knew there wasn’t a toilet in the bathroom, just the tub.
This was the point where the fancy hotel room changed into a train car or a rock band’s bus. It was hard to tell which. Either way, I wanted out.
I realized that we shouldn’t be there and should go back to where we had been staying. Except we had carried our futon with us and it wasn’t easy getting it out and wouldn’t be easy to get it back upstairs—upstairs in Chicago to the room in the apartment where our daughter Maddie lives above a gay bar.
Before leaving, I opened up a cocoa container only to find chocolate sauce inside, along with something like a camera that clearly didn’t belong there.
The sauce started to ooze out on to my pants and spread everywhere. I tried to contain it, but it was impossible so I started laughing loudly at my predicament. Everyone else thought I was crying, but I just thought it was absurd that I was in this weird situation with chocolate sauce all over my pants.
Which is probably why I woke up smiling, but almost immediately thinking about the laundry—back in real life, real time.
In that wacky state between asleep and awake, I remembered that I had ironed a shirt for David which then made me think about our ineffective washing machine.
It’s one of those energy-efficient washers that uses hardly any water, so when you open it midcycle and eye the soaking wet mass of garments with barely a drop of extra water showing, you immediately think, “Oh, my gosh, this machine is broken!”
In the final cycle, the machine spins faster than a whirling Dervish so by the time you open the lid, everything is crazy wrinkled and even though you prefer to air dry your clothes, they must go through the dryer for at least a few minutes to straighten themselves out.
I slightly vaguely remember that I possibly maybe might have already written about washing machines before, so I check old columns and find one about appliance breakdown and how I’d rather spend money to visit my new grandbaby Caroline than buy a new washing machine.
In “quick fix” mode, David had stuck a screw driver into the lid locking mechanism and somehow, with the lid up, the washing machine would kick into the spin cycle. Then he went online looking for a real solution and found a post by someone asking for advice about operating a washer with no lid.
“Running a wash machine with no lid is going to be both dangerous and messy,” advised one responder.
I read that to David and he disagreed.
“The only danger is fighting the urge to stick your finger in there,” he said. “No, not finger, hand,” he amended his original statement.
“‘Finger’ is for when you have a table fan and the shield comes off,” he explained. When the fan is spinning around, “You want to just stick your finger in,” he said.
Readers of David’s By the Way column, take note. I want it known that I warned Caroline back then that she had to watch out for her Grandpa.