The basket of clean, unfolded clothing sat on the bed staring at me.

OK, sure. A basket of laundry is an inanimate, non-sentient object and can’t actually stare at anything. Or can it? A tremor traveled down my back when a soft, teddy bear-like voice seemed to whisper, “Fold me.”

There are four things that can cause a husband to feel he’s about to lose his position in the hierarchy of manhood*:

1. He can’t open a jar.

2. His wife tells him his favorite movie, “The Blues Brothers,” is actually a musical.

3. He doesn’t know what’s wrong with the car.

4. He doesn’t know how to do laundry.

Sure guys, we all did laundry when we were single, but that was easy. Just throw everything in the same machine, scrape the sludgy bits of soap from the other machines in the Laundromat, dump in some quarters and boom, laundry’s done.

Once women’s clothes are in the mix, the rules change. It’s like the directions on the tags suddenly mean something. That can’t be right.

It’s at this point, fellas, when we begin to doubt ourselves.

The puzzle of women’s clothing is harder to solve than a Rubik’s cube. I think after a lifetime of seeing women in clothes, helping them out of clothes (although admittedly that was always pretty quickly and in the dark) and having the dishwasher Tetrising ability of a Jedi master, I’d be able to put my wife’s clothing on hangers.

Nope. But I can fold.

Socks? Sure. Underpants? I’m a grown man and I still giggled. Blue jeans? No problem. Wait. What’s this?

I picked up a piece of clothing that was as alien to me as, you know, an alien.

There was a place for the shoulders and trunk, there were armholes, but no place for the neck to go through. I flipped the thing over, pulled at it and finally yelled at it, but the neck hole never appeared. My wife has a neck. I’m sure of it. It holds up her head and I talk with the face part of her head all the time.

Unless she’s a government android whose head is removable and maybe interchangeable with a machine gun, or a chainsaw.

Great. Now I have that to worry about.

Fortunately, she came home, although became paranoid by the way I looked at her.

“What is this madness?” I asked, holding the garment out to her. She took it.

“It’s a cardigan,” she said. “You’re wearing one right now.”

The sad thing is she was right. I own two.

I hate doing laundry.

 

*Hierarchy of Manhood. A guy’s place in the universe in relation to other guys:

1. John Wayne

2. Ron Swanson

3. Popeye (with spinach)

4. Captain America

5. Charlie Sheen

6. Popeye (without spinach)

7. Hipster guy who complained a magazine didn’t ask permission to use a picture of him with an article on how all hipsters looked the same, then discovered the guy in the picture wasn’t him (true story).

8. Justin Bieber

Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters,” is available at amazon.com.