Mr. Washie, my beloved companion and faithful friend, is not at all well.
At present, he lies in the basement disemboweled and de-hosed, his parts hanging out and ashamed, with some mysterious organ of his having been disassembled on the living room coffee table for surgery. This day had to come really, it did. When I moved into this house 11 years ago, it had a dryer, but no washer. I was pretty sure (being thrilled just to have a house, never mind appliances) that I could live without a washing machine, which was good, since saying the I was a little broke would be like saying that Johnny Depp makes a little bit of a good pirate. I imagined myself loading up the wagon with loads of laundry and three little girls, and trouping off to the laundromat to wash our clothes, then bringing them back home to dry them. I lasted 10 days, until a stomach bug wracked the household one night and suddenly, the idea of taking truly disgusting sheets and jammies down the street to the washer with sick kids hanging off of me lost it’s romance faster than a Britney Spears marriage.
At exactly that moment, my sister bought a new house, and it had a washing machine, but she owned a better one. Mr. Washie was dragged up out of her basement and installed in mine by my brother and his buddy Pablo, whom I paid to install it with a case of beer.
(You would be surprised how many household services can be procured with a case of beer in this country. I got the gas connected to the stove for a 12.)
It was instant love. From the moment that I first lifted his lid to until he fell ill Friday, we have had a happy and..for the first 9 years, monogamous relationship. Mr. Washie has, in recent years opened his heart to Joe and the girls, and allowed them (even though they do not appreciate him the way that I do) to enter into a partnership of sorts. Through all of the loads of diapers, sheets and dirty clothes, Mr. Washie has never let me down. (There was that one time that I accidentally clogged his pump felting knitted clogs, but I bought him a new one and he forgave me for my carelessness. ) Mr. Washie has done more to help me with this family than any other thing on earth. I love him.
Further to that, Mr. Washie and I have the sort of commitment that married people only dream of. He was installed in the basement 11 years ago, and 5 years ago Joe and I remodeled the kitchen, carelessly installing a large pantry near the basement door. There is no chance now of Mr. Washie ever coming out, or a new washer coming in without some serious cupboard mangling. (Really, I don’t know what we were thinking.) That means that on Friday when Mr. Washie had a seizure and quit, Joe went on a hunt for parts.
He called Sears (Mr. Washie’s full name is “Kenmore Heavy-Duty”) and told them what washer we had. The lady on the other end of the phone asked for the model number printed on the back. Joe told her. Then she asked again. Joe told her. She asked if there were any other numbers. Joe lay on the floor of the basement and read the numbers out to her with precision.
“You’re sure?” she says. Joe, in a supreme demonstration of will-power did not point out to her that he reads numbers …all of them 1 through 9 with remarkable accuracy, and simply said “Yes. That’s all it says.” The woman went away then, when she came back she said something shocking. She had found Mr. Washie’s date of birth, and he was made in… (You’re not going to believe this. I know I’m still stunned.)
1978. My washing machine is 28 years old.
I am so moved by his years of service to me that I can’t even tell you of it. He’s done easily 3500 loads of laundry in this house…and there’s no way to know what he accomplished before he came to live with me. Dudes, get yourself a Kenmore Heavy-duty, because they are not screwing around when they make them. I don’t even clean his filter as often as I should, he’s been in at least two basement floods, he’s 28 years old and he still did two loads of jeans and a whack of towels before falling down on Friday.
The best part? Joe thinks he needs a $30 part that you can still buy from Sears. With any luck, Mr. Washie will be recovered later today, and I’m going to go straight out and buy a nice magnet to stick to the front of him. Maybe flowers or something. Bless his heart. Welcome to the Washing Machine Hall of Fame buddy. I’ll buy you all the parts you need.