I open the drawer. As I search for a clean pair of underwear, I bypass the first two pairs because I know the elastic is all stretched out. I haven't thrown them out yet because they're good in a pinch. As I hit the bottom of the drawer, I realize one of them is pinch-hitting today.

Harry's wearing the sexy paisley silk boxer shorts I bought him one year for an anniversary present. He's not wearing them to turn me on. He's just desperate. His plain white tighty whities are MIA.

I release a heavy sigh.

It's time to do the laundry.

My mother washed her hands of me a long time ago. Since the beginning of time, she has always done the laundry every week on Monday. I hear her saying, "I taught you better than this."

That's because I do laundry on an "as needed" basis.

Is it because I'm lazy?

Hmmm. Could be.

Is it because I hate to do laundry?

Bingo!

Why, you might ask.

Well, it came to me one day. As I was sitting folding laundry, I realized that I had folded the same underwear, the same pair of socks, the same towels and the same sheets last week. Here I was doing the same thing again. Year after year, I fold the same things, over and over and over ...

It's a thankless job. When was the last time someone in your family came up to you and gave you a big hug and said, "Thank you so much for washing and folding my clothes?"

Now don't get me wrong. I want clean clothes. I just don't want to have to fold them.

I want an automatic clothes folder.

Look. I figure if they can send a man to the moon, invent a machine that can wash clothes, they can invent a machine that folds them, too.

Or else I vote to go back to the days of our forefathers.

See, they didn't have so much clothing back then. Men had one good pair of pants and a pair of work pants and one or two shirts. Women had a dress for every day and one good dress for church. They didn't have closets because they didn't need them. They just hung their stuff up on hooks. Yeah, but then they had 10 or 12 kids, so I guess they ended up with just as much laundry anyway. And the more I think about it, I don't know that I'd enjoy coming home after working, dragging out the old washtub and washboard and scrubbing until my knuckles hurt.

OK. Scratch the days of my forefathers. Yeah, and scratch that forefather business. It would be more like my foremother who was doing the laundry.

The first year we were married, we didn't have a washer and dryer. Every week I had to "rough it" and go to the laundromat. In the beginning I hated it because I got one day off and spent it doing laundry. We lived in an upstairs apartment. I'd carry it downstairs in laundry baskets to the car, unload at the laundromat and then sort all our dirty laundry in public. Yeeeech. It was worse carting it all back upstairs when I got home.

When we got our first washer and dryer, one year later, I was so ecstatic! The washer was upstairs and the dryer downstairs in the garage. To get to it, I had to go outside. It was OK in the summer, but it was a bummer in the winter. Still, it beat going to the laundromat. Or going to the closest river and beating clothes on the rocks.

While visiting Jamaica, we traveled inland and I watched a woman doing just that. In this day and age. It drove home a point. My washing machine is now a family shrine, draped in velvet with glowing candles surrounding it. It's something I don't take for granted anymore.

I'm also somewhat afraid of it. I think a monster lives deep within.

How else can I explain all the single socks I have without mates? They have never shown up under the beds, behind dressers or down in-between the sofa cushions, although I once found a shoe, enough peanuts, chips, popcorn and crackers to feed my next party and enough change to buy a bottle of wine to go with the snacks. But no socks. So where are they?

The sock monster. It's the only answer.

I know. It's just too far-fetched to be believed. After all, why would anything steal something so vile smelling?

Sometimes I don't get towels, wash rags and underclothes folded immediately. They sit patiently in the laundry basket until the basket almost becomes part of the bedroom decor.

I once gave a tour of the house to guests, and instead of being embarrassed about the overflowing laundry basket I explained that I've decorated in a French country style. "And this? Oh, this is lé landreé baskeété. This decor is all the rage in France."

Who would know? How many French boudoirs has anyone seen?

Years ago when my parents gave me an antique washboard, I was thrilled! I hung it above my 21st century automatic sock-eating washing machine and dryer that I wished folded my clothes.

I felt I needed something to remind me of the plight of my poor foremothers and why I should love doing the laundry.

It's not working.