föstudagur, apríl 07, 2006

wash 'n' wear?

Growing up in the mean streets of the Marshall Middle School in Billerica, Mass., one of the things I learned right off the bat was that wearing the same shirt two days in a row was grounds for a pummeling. Or at least a lot of whispering, cackling, or name-calling. You learned quickly not to do it.

This belief served me well in adult life, too. If I wore a shirt to work, I wore it home and put it in the laundry bag. On the first wearing. A one-shot deal. Nobody at work was gonna pummel me in the Bose manufacturing staff meeting, that was for sure.

But then I came to Iceland, and that rule seems to have flown out the window. People think nothing of wearing the same shirt, the same sweater, the same pants. Two, three, sometimes even four days in a row, in some cases. When I first started work and kept seeing the same people in the same clothes, day in, day out, I was shocked. But also accepting; it did help with personal recognition in those early, confusing days. I started envisioning those clothes as their wearer's personal uniform.

But how do they do it? Because the clothes always look neat and well-pressed here, this remains a mystery. Do they take the clothes home and slave over the þvottapottur every night, completing a full wash/dry/press cycle every 24 hours? Do they maybe have 5 or 6 copies of the same shirt? Or a team of red-hatted clothes-care gnomes? Or, through centuries of repeat clothes-wearing, have Icelanders evolved special smell-suppressing and permanent-press genes that enable multiple neatly pressed wearings? Or do they just walk into the shower fully clothed every night, subscribing to the same two-birds-one-stone theory as a guy I knew in college?

This could definitely be one for the I-Files.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I wear undershirts only once before washing, but the "outer" shirts I'll wear 4 or 5 times between washes. But I don't wear them on back to back days!
-p lo.

7.4.06  
Anonymous carmen said...

This reminds me of when I did a summer semester abroad at an international program. Mondays introduced the teacher's Outfit of the Week, a custom also practiced by the French students. Their secret seemed to be lots of intense perfumes/colognes, which turned into a godawful smell of perspiration and flowers around noon in those un-air conditioned July classrooms. The Germans wore the same outfit only about 3 days in a row. They alas had no secret. (My first lesson that semester: Don't sit next to the French or the Germans.) Mainly the Americans and Brits changed daily. But then our cultures are supposed to be obsessed with germs and disconnected from our bodily natures.

Despite their multilple wearings and it being a hot, sweaty July, their clothing also looked crisp. Maybe ironing is what's really next to godliness?

7.4.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

That's a very rude and narrow minded and mind you ethnically obnoxious remark from Carmen, almost racist.
Americans can be discusting. Men go to the restrooms in America and NEVER wash their hands. Yukk!
This has to do with peoples upbringing.
Remember electricity and water is in abundance in Iceland maybe that is why people there don't mind washing more frequently.
Italians have a tendancy of showering twice daily, many French do too.

JB, do you think the Icelander stinks/smells?

8.4.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Sentence 1:
That's a very rude and narrow minded and mind you ethnically obnoxious remark from Carmen, almost racist.

Sentence 2:
Americans can be disgusting.

ha!

8.4.06  
Anonymous carmen said...

I never said that the other students didn't bathe or weren't clean. They could've easily been bathing twice a day. But we were in a country that reached 35+ degrees C every day, stuck in an enclosed classroom with no air conditioning. The point of my story was that despite the failure of European anti-perspirant technology and the toll it took on their clothing, those students still looked crisp in the same outfits all week long.

Different cultures have different ways of doing things. It is not insensitive, rude, or racist to notice it and discuss it. I am actually fascinated by the differences between cultures, probably because I was raised in the US by European parents. I was being lighthearted and bemused by the differences. I am sorry you misunderstood.

I also never implied or said that Americans were better. We may have turbo-powered anti-perspirants, but Americans in general are not very good at looking crisp, even the first time out with an outfit. I don't know how those students did it.

Oh, btw, my boyfriend complains that American men don't even flush the urinals in public restrooms.

9.4.06  
Blogger ECS said...

Carmen: applause for you. Excellent response!

9.4.06  
Blogger JB said...

I really dislike anonymous comments. I allow them on the blog to encourage discourse, but really don't like when commenters won't even put their initials at the end of something they write. So the anonymous anti-Carmen rant kind of got my blood boiling, and I wasn't sure how to respond. But you did great, Carmen! I don't need to stick up for you.

Readers, should I turn off anonymous commenting?

9.4.06  
Anonymous Scott Stowell said...

I think so. I'm a big fan of blogs that don't allow posting anonymously and in some cases even require e-mail confirmation of each comment (of course I'm a big fan of yours too, but you get the idea). It definitely cuts down on the volume of comments, but gets through is usually more relevant, more interesting, and of course more responsible.

Meanwhile, it's true: hardly anyone flushes the urinals. I couldn't figure out why until one of my colleagues said he thought it was because they didn't want to touch the (no doubt dirty) handles. But that makes no sense--unless you assume they have no plans to wash their hands. I've even seen men leave the stall (and you know what they were doing in there) without washing! Eeesh.

FYI in Chelmsford you'd get beaten not just for repeating the same clothes, but for getting them wrong in the first place. Are your jeans not Levi's? Uh oh. Wearing any sneakers other than Nike Burt Bruin basketball shoes--with a black or red swoosh? Look out. I remember my mom lecturing me for being too into name brands. But I wasn't--it was a matter of life and death!

9.4.06  
Blogger EnuhCorK said...

I say: Let 'em post. You have full editorial control. If any "scaredy cat anonymous poster" writes something not worthy of the blog, don't let it through. Other than that, let discourse reign...may it be intelligent or otherwise.

My guess is nightly ironing...that's how to can keep your clothes looking crisp day to day to day to day.

9.4.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Censorship! Welcome back to the good ol' USSR.
Now did that really work?
How about freedom of speech?

9.4.06  
Anonymous sb said...

Oh people are getting too upset about wash 'n fold and all of that. Now do the people possibly take off their work clothes as soon as they get home?
I wonder are they hygenic or are they smelly. Is it a visual thing or a hygenic thing about not changing their clothes every day? Is it a practical thing, without being offensive?
Is it both men and women who show up in the same clothing.

Hey here's an idea, maybe because it's so cold there, no germs can survive, people don't sweat so they can wear the same stuff for weeks :D

10.4.06  
Blogger JB said...

1. Censorship is practiced by governments. The Iceland Report is not a government.

2. It is freedom of speech, you just have to stand behind what you say. Stand up and be counted, anonymous coward.

I'm shuttin' em down. If you have anything good to say, you'll stand behind it.

10.4.06  
Blogger Hulda Katrín Stefánsdóttir said...

Þetta er ekki flókið!Íslendingar eru með miklu betri þvottavélar en bandaríkinn! Bandarísku þvottavélar þvo ekki föt, þær bleyta fötin og snúa þau í nokkra hringi!Ef við látum fötin í þvottavélina eftir einn dag þá eru þessu blessuðu dýru föt okkar fljót að vera ljót! Við höfum bara ekki þann kost að kaupa t.d gallabuxur fyrir 50$ heldur er við að versla gallabuxur á minnsta kosti 200$! Svo bendi ég á bara á fyrsta commentið,,sem hann segir nákvæmar lýsingar á því að góður kostur er að ganga í nærfötum! Það eru þau sem þurfa að vera þvegin eftir hvert skipti!
Kveðja
Hulda

10.4.06  
Blogger ECS said...

I have to agree with Hulda Katrín that the washing technology available here is far superior to the American one. Appliances cost more, but they heat their own water, they're all front-loaders (better for the clothes) and the average washing cycle is two hours on our machine. If it takes twice as long to wash, I guess you can wear it twice as long too.

10.4.06  
Blogger carmen said...

I know you've already altered the comments requirements, so this is moot, but I don't mind anonymous posts. I guess I'd cast my vote with EnuhCork's plan. But this is your party, JB. We're just here to enjoy the entertainment and free drinks. (Can someone please pass a Thule...?)

10.4.06  
Blogger The Prima said...

In general, I like anonymous comments. I believe that the number of positive/rewarding anonymous comments will far outweigh the annoying ones.

Sure, some anonymous commenter will write something stupid and then walk away, but that's for the editor to handle. If they are logged in, their profile may not link to any blogs, leading no where.

And what would a blogger do if they did find the blog of an offending commenter, run over to that blog and comment that the writer is an idiot? No, the blogger would respond to the comment based on its merits, or simply delete it as the editor, just as they would if the comment was left anonymously.

Also, not everyone has user/pass for blogger.com.

All this said, I agree with Carmen that this is your party, and a grand one at that!

Also, you have an impressive reader base from all sorts of backgrounds so I believe you need some sort of control. Maybe more moderation/editorial role is needed rather than a required sign-on? That seems to be what newspapers do.

Btw, I left the 1st and 4th comments (the one ending in 'ha!')... I didn't sign the 4th one because I didn't want your irate commenter to find their way to my blog!

sorry for the long post... I enjoy thinking about this blogshereic stuff...

Fascinated,
Paul

17.4.06  
Blogger JB said...

Thanks for your comment, Paul. I agree that anonymous comments are definitely better in a perfect world. And perhaps I will turn them on again in a month or so when things chill out around here again.

18.4.06  

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