Damp Jeans

My father had a phobia about damp clothes because he spent a very long year in his early teens battling pneumonia which almost killed him.

His phobia was extreme and Mother, who was the opposite, used to regale us with stories of how he would want to shelter for hours from rain rather than get wet, even if it was freezing cold and likely to rain for days.

One of my lasting memories was a night I went out when I was about seventeen. That was a ‘gap’ year for me and I made the very most of it.

I slipped out of the house after tea and somehow Dad got to hear that I was wearing a pair of jeans which had been washed earlier that day. He got into a frenzy and as good as had a hospital bed booked for me.

He had no way of contacting me as I was mobile but there were no mobile phones. (I still like to leave mine at home if I get a yen to be ‘free’ and off the leash, so to speak.)

Anyway, nothing would do him but to drive around looking for me to get me home and out of the damp jeans.

He couldn’t find me and when I eventually sneaked back home, he was waiting with a look of concerned madness.

I tried to explain that I had put the jeans into a dryer thingy called The Flatley which ate electricity and was only meant for emergencies. That was crime enough but to him a helluva lot better than a dose of pneumonia.

I could see he wasn’t sure if I was telling the truth as The Famous Flatley was so out of bounds and also shrank damp clothes and I seemed to be fitting into the jeans.

What he hadn’t witnessed was the 15 minutes of agony trying to squeeze into the bell bottoms that I thought were beyond cool. It was a real case of: Pride knows no pain, trying to walk in those two sizes too small jeans.

But, a few hours on the razzle dazzle had softened them out and they were back to normal when he saw them.

My going-outs didn’t get back to my normal for quite some time and it wasn’t because I had pneumonia!

P.S. I have no idea why this episode came flashing into my mind this morning. Maybe it’s because I have never got over the fact that Monday is washing day even though I don’t adhere to that as every day seems to be washing day in this house anyway.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

17 thoughts on “Damp Jeans”

  1. We had a Flatly dryer when we were first married, it came with the maisonette. Yes it was very expensive and the wooden runs you hung the clothes on occasionally left marks!
    My mum was the “make sure that’s aired” freak in our house. Also ” never go out if you’ve just washed your hair” ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

  2. Your Dad’s medical experience resonated with him to the extent that it carried over to his protecting you from experiencing the same, which is ironic because you ended up with pneumonia. Sometimes parents can’t be the protector and we as children have to experience and draw from their wisdom of “I told you so” as we think we know it all..His love for your safety drove him beyond the bounds of reason to actually try to hunt you down to save you…All’s well that ends well because you both came through it, and thus becomes a memory to draw upon at another time…

    1. HI Joni,
      I fully take your point re Dad’s concern and I generally appreciated it.
      But, just to clarify I had aired the jeans and I didn’t get pneumonia, just a mega telling off.

  3. I had never heard of a Flatley, so that was a fun look-up–with pictures in the Irish Archives! It is interesting to look at our parents and grandparents and their fears developed from experience of a traumatic event. For my grandfather, it was fear of storms as the chimney collapsed during a storm when he was a child and they were almost killed. If it even hinted of a rain storm, he went to the cellar with the whole family in tow.

      1. Mom said all the rest of them went to sleep, but she had to stay awake and “make sure no spiders got on the bed.” That is likely where I got my dislike of spiders. ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. No doubt it is! You are reminding me now of my grandmother’s terrification of thunder and how she hid in a cubby hole under the stairs. I follow her in both name and attitude to thunder and lightening. It skipped a generation!

    Thank you, Chris
    Loved the memories you shared… we are steeped in so many of them…we can smile about what now seems strange to others, but on the whole, they are our foundation. We don’t need to follow the old ideas, however much we realise that most of the ‘guidelines’ were given with the best of intentions.

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