"I once read a poem that started 'Oh, let there be nothing but laundry!'" he says to his roommate as they wait for their clothes to dry.

"Laundry taps into forces that are larger than you'd guess," he continues, "some weird mysticism, cycles of struggle and rebirth, childhood associations of warm clothes and maternal affection, cultural archetypes of single socks..."

He stops, and wonders what brought on this train of thought as his roommate looks on, visibly amused. He remembers: years ago doing laundry in a dorm basement his then beloved explained how it's not the dryer that eats socks, but the washer. People unwittingly abandon socks to a soggy fate though carefully scrutinizing the dryer for any wayward strays. He's worked, struggled, to grow past that romance, but layers of emotional insulation are washed away by the smell of soap, the intimate feel of hot clothes still damp in the dryer.

Was it the power of laundry that made an odd household hint sing like the hymns of 1000 years, or her?