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"Where is your brother?" I asked.
"He's in the dryer."
This reply was delivered in a matter-of-fact tone with more than a hint of "Duh, Mom," causing me to wonder if the tone was just a natural symptom of my older son's teenage ailment, or if I had somehow missed the fact that my younger son had been living in our dryer. Considering how busy I had been lately and the huge stack of dirty clothes piled in front of the washer, I just couldn't be sure.
I was relieved to find that the dryer door was open; at least he hadn't installed a lock on the door yet.
"Honey, why are you in the dryer?"
"I like it."
"Okay, but it's time for dinner. You need to come out."
"Why can't I eat here?"
"Because I occasionally put clean clothes in there."
I was all set to launch into a lecture when I realized, to my great annoyance, that I didn't have a lot of solid reasons for not hanging out in the dryer. As long as the door stayed open and his older brother promised not to turn on the dryer, he was in no harm. And even at nine my son still weighed less than the mega-loads of wet clothing that I usually stuffed into the dryer, so the appliance was in no mortal danger. Besides, as long as he stayed in there, I didn't have to do any laundry.
I set the plate of noodles on the opened dryer door and squatted. A skinny arm reached out and pulled a noodle from the plate. As I listened to the slurping of the noodles within the dryer, I pondered what would cause someone to want to hang out in the dryer. There was that time I stabbed myself in the nose with my pencil while I was taking notes and had to walk around for days with an itchy nose scab that closely resembled a booger. Then there was the time I tried to refine my eyebrows and ended up with half an eyebrow, right before I went on a date.
"Rough day?" I asked.
"Will you be coming out at some point?"
I looked around. Piles of dirty laundry. Nearly empty detergent bottle. Dish-filled sink. Floor covered with little boy and doggie prints. Stack of bills disguised as mail. Volumes of papers to be graded.
"Any room in there for me?"
Silence. "Um . . . I think your butt's too big."
I knew I should have bought that commercial-sized dryer.