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Column: Aging appliances create a soap opera set in the basement

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There was another ruckus down in the basement last night, about the fourth or fifth one these last two weeks. I went down to see what the heck was going on. The folks who live and work down there seem to be in a continuous uproar over something or other, and it's the hard truth that, if you get more than three people together, one of them seems to develop into a major pain in the butt.

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The problem began last year when I realized that Lady Kenmore the Dryer was showing her age. She did that in a couple of ways. One was she'd pinch a towel between her drum-like stomach and her gasket, which would shred it at best, and rend it asunder at worst.

She also became whiney and touchy, and everything turned into a conspiracy against her, the way she saw it.

"He's giving me clothing that he hasn't finished spinning, and it's wet, and heavy, and it's no wonder I've blown a gasket trying to get it to tumble properly so I can dry it."

Lady Kenmore the Dryer wasn't finished, oh no.

"He's just doing it to spite me," she finished.

Under her breath I thought I heard her whisper to Sir Nautilus the Water Heater, who is just on the other side of the wall: "He doesn't love me anymore, now that my drum bearings are sagging and I've got varicose wiring."

General Electric the Washing Machine begged to differ: "I am not doing it to spite her. I gave her perfectly processed material, which she chewed the hems right out of."

He wasn't finished either: "She keeps trying to shock me with her electric cord."

Since General Electric is connected up to water pipes, this could be fatal, like taking a bath and having someone pitch the toaster in.

"Is that true?" I asked Lady Kenmore, who at the moment was fanning herself with her door and asking, "Is it hot in here? I feel like I'm going to burst into flames."

She said: "Oh, he's--swish--just making--swish--this up--swish--I just wanted him--swish--to move over a little."

She was really fanning that door at that point. All the junk that had accumulated on her head was jumping around and falling into the black void that exists between her and the basement wall, where I think socks disappear, kind of like the Bermuda Triangle.

"Sir," said The General, "she was so hot I was afraid she was going to blister my paint, and I as you know can only retreat to the ends of my four-foot hoses."

At this point Lady Kenmore cattily spoke up and said: "What's the matter, General? Your hoses getting soft? Maybe you're getting old, too."

Oh Lord. I held my head in both hands and wondered what I'd done to deserve all this commotion.

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