Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bandanas are folded square, everyone knows that!

I've never been much of a one for folding clothes. Shirts I'd hang in a cupboard on hangers, as that's what they are for. T-shirts get folded, and as long as the sleeves are folded flattish so they don't wrinkle too badly, I'm happy. Jeans, folded along the seams, then into four. Undies, folded into two if at all before being placed carefully in a drawer. Sheets and towels into whatever configuration fits best into the linen closet or airing cupboard. Everything else, tossed into whatever storage is available for it.

It was only recently that my dear wife told me that there were scientific and artistic ways to fold and store stuff. Her mother (who, sadly, I never had the chance to meet) taught her to fold sheets and towels in such a way that their final proportions approached a golden rectangle. This, apparently, is an ├Žsthetically pleasing thing. What it means in real life is that when I'm folding sheets or towels, I have to check with her. Sometimes she nods, and I carry one. Sometimes she smiles gently and asks me to fold in into thirds or somesuch darned thing, at which point I roll my eyes and undo my work to the point where she nods, and try again.

Further to that, there's the dreaded fitted sheet. Now in the past, I'd make several attempts to get these unruly blighters into something resembling a flattish parcel, and leave it at that. Imagine my surprise when I found that there was a scientific approach. Apparently, the secret is getting all the corners together and tucked into one another before folding into the desired rectangle. I could not possibly explain this in words, so courtesy of YouTube, here is a video showing you this particular bit of household magic. Now all I need to do is fit the quart that is our duvet into the pint pot that is the duvet cover.

Apparently all of this is necessary so that when the item is placed in the linen closet (last fold facing out, of course) it looks good. For myself, I don't much care. As long as I can see the perishing things in there, and pick out the item I seek, it's of little concern how they look. But to an artist like Christine, it clearly matters, as it did to her mother before her.

Some people take this to even greater extremes. Apparently there is a whole subset of Martha Stewart skills that, if I cared enough, I would apply to each and every piece of linen and towelling that I own. I have seen guest towels folded into careful packages tied with ribbon. I've seen them carefully wrapped in tissue paper, banded with coloured tapes, bound in silk parcels and much more. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I very much doubt that this is necessary, unless you have the kind of houseguests who, before unpacking their suitcases, demand an examination of the linen.

I can only think that there are people for whom this is sufficiently important that they Need To Know. I imagine them arriving chez wertperch with a little ticklist, checking to see what sort of hosts we will be, getting to the linens and suddenly shrieking with horror before fleeing to the nearest hotel to scrub themselves off under a scalding shower. Thankfully, we know of no such people. Our guests are presented with a neatly folded set of face flannel, hand and bath towel. They are clean, smell of clean, and are as neatly folded as I can be bothered to whilst approaching artistically mathematical perfection. For the rest, let them eat cake.

I write this conversation because I found a random bandana in the closet this morning, and in jest, asked whether it needed to be specially folded into the golden ratio (1.618). Quite seriously, she answered me the the following words: "Bandanas are folded square, everyone knows that!" I stand corrected.

P.S. Christine just saw the video. Guess what she said? "He didn't fold it into thirds".


loulou said...

I shall look forward to my clean smelling and expertly folded flannel and towels when I visit.

Steve said...

Man, I am so bringing a checklist the next time I come to the bracken patch...

Information Waitress said...

OK I find it hysterical that Helen cared about how precisely her sheets were folded. Kevin,you never had the opportunity of experiencing her general housekeeping. Let's just say finding neatly folded sheets would have been a shock. That BTW is said with love. I found H&M's house a joy to visit particularly because of the lack of anal housekeeping. My mom I must note was Swiss