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Failure to fold
June 2, 2017
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by Ivan Raconteur

I’m embarrassed to admit there are some allegedly simple tasks that I simply haven’t mastered in my more than half a century on this planet.

However, I believe learning is a lifelong activity, so I set out to remedy one of these deficiencies over Memorial Day weekend.

In a spirit of foolish optimism, I embarked on a mission to learn, once and for all, the proper way to fold a fitted sheet.

Whether this job is easy or difficult, there is one basic flaw in the concept. No one in his right mind would design something that is intended to be neatly folded on a weekly basis in any form other than flat.

I’m convinced that whoever came up with the brilliant idea of a fitted sheet was not someone who had the regular responsibility of laundering and folding bedding.

Ignoring this basic design flaw, I was determined to learn how to do it, since I know perfectly well that other people successfully perform this task all the time.

Following a process that has served me well in the past when I needed to learn a new skill, I read several sets of instructions online explaining the process in a few easy steps.

I watched a number of videos, most hosted by smiling, smug women telling me how simple it is to fold fitted sheets.

I’ve been doing my own laundry and making my own bed for years, but I still consider myself an amateur in this arena.

Although I consider sleeping in a freshly-made bed one of life’s simple pleasures, I find no joy in making beds, nor in folding laundry.

I’m fairly cavalier when it comes to folding flat things like towels, washcloths, and pillowcases.

On a good day, I can just about cope with a flat sheet, although my results would never pass in any of the finer hotels.

But, even after reading the instructions and watching the videos, I was a bit apprehensive about folding fitted sheets.

I was instructed to start with the “right” side facing me. I’m not even sure what that means. Which is the right side?

Pressing on, I managed, after a few false starts, to achieve a result that was somewhat flat, although certainly not neat, on one fitted sheet.

Things went downhill from there. The next set of sheets were made of flannel, and I had all I could do to find the corners, much less match them up.

No matter which way I tried to turn the thing, it seemed as though the corners did not get along and were determined to head in different directions. Instead of nice neat folds, I kept ending up with a twisted, ugly mess of green flannel.

I went back to the drawing board a few times, but I confess the thing defeated me.

Instead of the neat, flat, rectangular object they showed in the videos, I finished with a wadded up ball of shapeless shame, which is what has usually happened in the past when I have tried to fold a fitted sheet.

This is one reason I never look down on people no matter how un-glamorous their jobs might seem.

Hotel housekeeping staff members, for example, don’t get much credit for the work they do, but I respect them.

It may not be a job with high prestige, but I’m confident I wouldn’t last a day in that position, especially after the boss clapped an eye on my folding and bed-making skills.

I suppose to avoid the whole problem with folding sheets, I could pull out my camping gear and just use a sleeping bag.

This is a much simpler system.

The reason they have been around so long – the first mass-produced, commercially-successful sleeping bag was the Euklisia Rug, invented by Pryce Pryce-Jones in 1876 – is that they are efficient and simple to us.

Some sleeping bags are designed to be rolled for storage and secured with straps.

Others come with a convenient stuff sack, avoiding the hassle of folding or rolling anything, and even these look neater than the pathetic blobs of fabric I end up with when I try to fold fitted sheets.

I guess I’ll have to accept the fact that, despite my best intentions, there are some things I’ll never learn, no matter how long I live.


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