Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Our Clothes Tell Secrets

Italians love to air their laundry...not their dirty laundry ;), well, at least not in my personal experiences, but rather their clean laundry.

I was recently in on a conversation where a friend was utterly incensed that the neighbourhood into which she was moving had a bylaw against clothes lines. My surprise, however, came when another contributor to the conversation considered my friend lucky to be moving into such an area. This woman said that without fail whenever she had company over her neighbour would have her laundry out hanging, and "who wants to look at that!"

Well, I don't know. I personally find the stockings hanging in the photo above or other delicate unmentionables rather charming when they are strung out on a line. Perhaps it's a voyeuristic tendency, or simply a desire to have a peak into the lives of others. In any case, I don't think it's something to get particularly uptight about. Besides, I am sure that there are many environmental arguments for drying your laundry 'au natural.'


Cheryl said...

Crazy bylaws like that should not be allowed. I think laundry hanging on the line is a thing of beauty (as your lovely photos illustrate so well!).

The Fool said...

I never thought much on it. I grew up in rural New England, and every house had a clothesline. I first associate clothesline laundry with a sunny day.
I think the clotheslines were also part of the social circles. Some neighbors had their lines strung adjacent along their border, and seemed to have laundry time uncannily coordinated so that they always seemed to hang their clothes at the same time.
I can't imagine a covenant against clotheslines. I guess my reply to "Who wants to look at that!" would be be "Who would be offended by that?"
With regard to "delicate unmentionables" - well, looking back, stockings and undergarments were hung, and yes, there is a voyeuristic charm...but I don't recall any "sensual lingerie" blowing in the breeze. I guess there must have been an unwritten code of discretion. I'll have to ask my mom where she hung her items that violated code. ;)
I am sure there are many personal-regional-cultural sides to this now that I consider it. I suppose the ritual of hanging the futons and bedding each morning in Japan is something that struck me along this same line.
Thanks for the thoughts.

Carla said...

Cheryl, I totally agree with you...on both counts.

Fool, very interesting thoughts...and social commentary. If you have any further insights, let me know.