Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lined up for all to see.

I remember my mother and friends washing all their clothes by hand, in big vats of soapy waters, rinsing everything twice, and hanging their wash out on lines strung between trees, or between houses, or on makeshift bubbles that sat on top of braziers full of hot coals in winter.

Their laundry was the only thing out in public, nakedly swaying in the wind, revealing the richness or poverty of the household by the tears, wears and general condition of the household.  Mother was a careful housekeeper.  She checked the wash for needed repairs both before and after it had been submitted to public scrutiny.  She never left the house without putting her best face on, and she shared very little with nosy neighbors. And she knew them and their ancestors!

Well, those days are all gone, forgotten, as all of us set out our garbage by the curb without a thought of what its says about us, our consumption or lack of same. We now broadcast our inner-most secrets on the biggest line of all, the internet and its myriad of social networks. We leave breadcrumbs all over the place.

We trust people.
We trust their intentions.
We buy and sell, and reveal our medical and financial history to anyone willing to listen.

It feels great to shout out, as we did as children, Look at me, Mom! Watch Me, Dad!
Now, if you get pestered with ads, don't blame the salesman. You asked him/her to pay attention to your needs.


  1. I am glad for the clothesline of blogs
    there are things I reveal....want to reveal, but no one here cares if I did..that's not a complaint...just a fact of life....
    It feels good to connect with people of like mind or experience..and some of those recipes on yours...yum
    And may I add....that line that you wrote:
    The laundry was the only thing out in public,nakedly swaying in the
    I may steal that ....with your permission of course...I smell a good story in that line, rosaria

  2. It's weird how the airing laundry analogy is lost on the new generation who have never even seen a clothesline.

  3. I remember my mother hanging clothes out on the line, too! And I was the youngest of 7 kids. I don't think she ever bought a drier...didn't need it, was her attitude.

  4. I HAVE a clothesline, with clothes on it (left overnight) at this very moment. They had gotten a little twisted in the wash, and I thought overnight moisture might de-wrinkle them a bit. Although there is no one to really see it -- the line is at the back of the property here -- I'm always amused at the way I hang out underwear. Essentially, I try to hide its function. My mother never did that. She would never have hung out ragged underwear, but it was what it honestly was, hung by the waistline for all to see. There was no turning it sideways on the line. I probably do the same thing on another line: the Internet. . . turn my thoughts sideways so that you don't exactly see what I'm thinking. Need to watch that in myself!

  5. Delightful post, Roasria! So true. I remember my mother hiding her bras in the pillow cases when she ung out the laundry. I am also reminded of the Italian "La Bella Figura" regarding the image we present to the public. Especially like the line..."We leave breadcrumbs all over the place."

  6. 'Look Ma!' That's it exactly. I fight the urge to do that and distrust my need to be noticed for what I do and say (well, the good parts, anyway). But so much about our airing of outselves is positive and constructive, and knits us together, even if only temporarily. Judgement is sometimes lacking, admittedly. An excellent analogy, Rosaria.

  7. this is quite thought provoking, this comparison of how generations and cultures view and value privacy. also says a lot about how "keeping face" has changed as we rocket into this virtual world of ours.

    i'm mulling over what you say about people now wanting to shout "look ma" as deborah says - do you really think we have become a more exhibitionistic culture? if so, what predicated that shift? was it better when we kept it all in, including our secrets? now our secrets are out, which in some ways is healthy, but in other ways as you say, results in leaving a mess of breadcrumbs everywhere. seems the answer always lies somewhere in between, in a sense of balance that we are forever seeking.

  8. In these days, we are truly isolated, even in big cities, even if all our family members live nearby. Reaching out through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other connections gives us a sense of community we crave. Why Facebook feels like high school to most folks, and this feeling of togetherness lulls us into a false sense of community.

    I can talk to my grandchild and refer to a picture on her Facebook page, and ask her about it. She might go on and elaborate, but, she did not post that for me; she posted it for her friends only to see it!

    Such is the internet!