In which I find a dirty shirt after having started the machine already

Ha, just as I suspected, I said, having jerked up the blanket and already begun to fold it.

Oh? I said, and what did you suspect? Are you telling me you suspected you’d find a shirt under the blanket (for I had seen the same thing myself when I jerked up the blanket to fold it: a dirty shirt).

You have me there, I said, for truthfully I at no point suspected I might find a shirt under the blanket on this couch.

So why would you even say such a thing, I said.

I don’t know, I said. I guess I suspected that I would find some article of dirty clothing to put in the washing machine after I’d already started the cycle — but I didn’t necessarily suspect that that something would be a shirt, or that that shirt would be found under this blanket when I lifted it up.

Do you mean suspect or expect, I said? I don’t know, I said.

I guess that makes sense I said. So what do we do with the shirt after we’ve already started the machine?

It wasn’t that long ago that we started the cycle, I said. We could just go up and put the shirt in, though that seems a long way I up for a single shirt. The alternative is we could put it in our dirty laundry bag, I said: make this the first dirty item of the new week rather than the last dirty item of the old week. Alright let’s do that, I said. Alright, now what did we do with the laundry bag, I said? I thought it was here, I said, but it isn’t. It must be upstairs with the laundry I said: remember how we held the bag upside down and watched the clothes fall into the washer; then we included the detergent in the mix; then we started the machine in its cycle; then we came back down the stairs having totally forgotten to bring the bag, now empty, with us. (I remember, I said. I remember.)

So the choice, I said, (do you mean the choices? I said. You may mean the options I said) are as follows: (i) return upstairs and put the dirty shirt into the already started washer cycle, bringing down the empty laundry bag; (ii) return upstairs and bring down the laundry bag and put the dirty shirt into it, making it “the first dirty item of the new week”; (iii) throw the dirty shirt onto floor in the knowledge that eventually it will get where it must; (iv) throw the dirty shirt on the floor for now but, when transferring the clothes from the washer to the drier, take the occasion to bring down the laundry bag, then put the dirty shirt in it.

… I don’t know what it was exactly that made me suddenly weigh the most the option I favored least, but in any case found myself trudging up the steps with a single dirty shirt: here I was bringing the whole of my own body weight up the steps for the sake of bringing this inconsequential weight of a single dirty shirt up the steps, which weighed less even perhaps than the finger I used to hold it up, weighed about as much as the clean shirt I was wearing and was already carrying up without even thinking — and would be carrying down again without thinking. Now the thing that weighed the most hefted up the shirt that weighed much less, and what sense did any of that make, I said.

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