The mystery of the missing laundry

Several years ago, I solved the question posed by everyone who's done more than two loads of laundry: Where do missing socks go? In our case they go wherever our dog, Misty, can hide them. I discovered this quite by accident one afternoon. I'd planted some seedlings in our backyard the day before, so the ground was still soft.

When I went out to water them the next day, I noticed something purple sticking up from the soil. Since I'd planted tomatoes, this didn't make sense. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a neatly planted sock.

This discovery prompted a reconnaissance of the entire backyard. Result: two more socks, one buried under the pyracantha, another stashed beneath the fig tree. Since we had only one possible culprit in our household, I started keeping a closer watch on Misty.

That's when I discovered a pattern: Every time I sorted laundry, Misty helped herself to whatever she could sneak out to the backyard. Preferably something she could easily conceal in her mouth. Socks and underwear were her favorites - my husband's or mine, she wasn't particular. She tried a shirt one time, but she kept tripping on the sleeves.

Not long before we moved, I caught her heading for the back door, dragging a beach towel. Just out of curiosity I let her go out with it. She took it to one of her favorite sleeping spots, nosed it into place, and sprawled out on top of it. That dog had been in California too long.

Now that we're in a climate requiring either heat or air conditioning most of the year, Misty doesn't have as much freedom to come in and go out on her own, so the laundry tends to stay put, or at least remain inside the house. But now we have a new mystery to solve: a disappearing sheet.

In a house with only one bed in use on a regular basis, it doesn't seem possible that a sheet could simply vanish. I think part of the problem may be the quality of the household help I've been getting. "Household help" in this case being a euphemism for "husband."

Since he retired, he's been helping me by occasionally volunteering to change the sheets on the bed. The trouble is, his definition of "making the bed" begins with reaching into the linen closet and grabbing whatever his hand touches. That's the only way I can account for the fact that last week we slept on a bed with four pillows in four unmatched pillowcases.

Since the situation had deteriorated to this extent, it was time to get things back in order. I pulled everything out of the linen closet and started sorting. It wasn't long before I began to wish I'd let well enough alone and resigned myself to mismatched bedding.

As recently as a year ago, we had at least five matched sets of sheets and pillowcases for our bed, not counting those for the guest room. But now I was left with two sets of sheets that only had one pillowcase each, one set with no pillowcases at all, and two sets of pillowcases with no sheets. It took me half the day to track down one set of sheets that had been left on the sofa bed and forgotten, another sheet that had migrated into the guest room, and two pillowcases that had been left in the dryer.

Two more pillowcases eventually materialized at the bottom of the laundry basket, but I'm still missing one sheet. I know I would have noticed if Misty had suddenly decided to bury it in the backyard.

So where do missing sheets go?

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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