We all know “Waldo,” the scrawny, stripe-wearing character who conceals himself among similarly dressed bystanders and décor. Recently, Waldo has brought the hunt to my home. Here’s the story.
From time to time, my son will find items in his laundry that do not belong to him; they may belong to a friend who left them behind or have been misplaced in his stack of carefully washed, dried, fluffed, and folded clothing. His tactic for dealing with this is to simply put them back in the dirty laundry pile, presumably so that they can be returned to their rightful owner. This can result in the same article of clothing being washed, dried, fluffed, and folded several times before I have a moment of laundry déjà vu and ask him if he has worn the item in question. At this point, I usually receive the response, “I don’t know whose that is,” and the abandoned shirt or socks or what-have-you is returned to its rightful owner or relegated to the Good Will bin.
I have found it is pointless to ask why any of these pieces of clothing were put back into the dirty laundry repeatedly. Typical responses include, “What was I supposed to do with it?” or “Gaawl. It’s not mine,” usually accompanied by a sneer or the rolling of eyes… or both. He displays epic indignation that I would even consider putting a piece of clothing that is his size and his style and that came out of his room into his pile of clean laundry. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have a thankless child!” But I digress.
Over the last few weeks, a “Where’s Waldo” shirt has been making an appearance in the laundry. I haven’t seen anyone wearing it, least of all my son. I have asked everyone in the household if they can identify its owner, and they have replied in a resounding chorus of “Nope.” As I sort the laundry, I see Waldo’s smiling countenance beaming at me from a crumpled mass of apparel, daring me to ask where he has been hiding. Week after week, Waldo is ferried into my son’s room amid the fashionable teen attire, and just as frequently he appears in various and sundry collections of soiled clothes. He smiles at me from amid aprons, towels, socks, and jeans, but never do I see him on the torso of a teenaged boy.
Perhaps this is some sort of avant-garde marketing campaign for the Waldo books. Maybe publishers’ assistants around the nation are sneaking into people’s homes and depositing “Where’s Waldo” merchandise where it will blend in with the surroundings, not unlike the title character.
What if my family is conducting some sort of psychological experiment on me, charting my reaction to this shirt’s reappearance and chuckling among themselves when they see me grimace with confusion before putting it on a hanger? I wouldn’t put it past them, those sneaky sons-of-Bundt-cakes.
Maybe this shirt is alive and is in cahoots with the lonely single socks, all of whom will someday break into a Disney-esque song and dance number in the laundry room. ♬ “Be our guest, Be our guest, Put our service to the test. Put your napkin in the hamper and we’ll wash it with the rest…” ♪ ♫
Some mysteries may never be solved: the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, the disappearance at Roanoke, and Where’s Waldo.