Survival Down in the Trenches

Last week I wrote about Valentines Day and the plight of the fictional character, Bridget, who worries about whether or not she’ll get a valentine. Thankfully, a man in whom she is interested does send her a card, and thus a romance begins.
The orgy of cards, gifts and fancy restaurant dinners is over, and it’s back to reality. A reader e-mailed me, “It’s obvious that you and your husband have a happy marriage.” I think that our marriage of 53 years has been a happy one. However, even the best of marriages aren’t always affectionate and tranquil. Some married people assert that they never, ever say a cross word to each other. If so, they are candidates for sainthood. (I’ve never aspired to sainthood. Personally, I suspect that some saints were probably pains in the rear!)
Some experiences test tempers and try the marital soul. Tom and Vicki were here recently for several days. Tuesday before last, I put a large load of laundry in the washing machine. I ignored Vicki when she said, “I don’t think the washing machine sounds right.” I was peacefully dozing off in my chair when Bill called from the end of the hall, “Help! Help! Help! Come quick!”
I rushed to his side. There was water all over the floor of the louvered-door laundry area. The washing machine hadn’t drained, and water was running from its hose. “Quick! Get me towels to soak up this water before it runs into the office.”
He’d already thrown the sopping clothing into the dryer. We put down ten or twelve heavy bath towels to soak up the water. “This will never dry,” I said and started taking dripping clothing out of the dryer and throwing it onto the towels. He exclaimed. “What are you doing when here I am, trying to soak up the water?” “Don’t talk so loud,” I hissed. “Tom’s asleep, and he has to start work at seven in the morning.” “Too bad!”
Finally we filled four trash bags with the towels and clothing and dragged them into the garage. “We’ll have to buy a new washer,” I said. “I know,” he sighed.” I said, “The smart thing would be to go to the laundromat in the morning.” Duh! Did we take the sopping stuff to the laundromat that’s only five blocks away? Of course not.
He said, “You’ll never be able to handle such heavy stuff on your own, I have a meeting at the church.” Plus that, he had to shop for a washer. He ordered a washer, thinking that it’d be delivered on Thursday. We figured that things wouldn’t mildew out in the cold garage. Actually, the blessed washer wasn’t installed until five o’clock on Friday.
But wait, gentle reader, there’s more to come . . . Bill toted in the bags from the garage, dumped them on the floor, washed the big load of clothing and threw it in the dryer. An hour later, I went to remove it from the dryer. Uh-oh . . . I said to Bill, “The dryer is warm, but the stuff’s still wet.” “Run it for another hour.”
It was still wet. Bill decided that the exhaust pipe down in the crawl space that connects to the outside was clogged. He removed the big flexible hose at the back and was inspecting the pipe when it fell down the hole into the crawl space. Meanwhile the curious cat was nosing around the hole.
Now what to do? I sat behind the dryer for an hour, holding the hose over the hole. Bill stuffed the wet laundry back in the bags and dragged them to the garage again. Bill is very clever and handy. He went to the hardware on Saturday and bought material for a temporary fix until spring when he’d hire someone to go down into the crawl space. His crawling days are over.