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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

From my Front Porch

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Friends who are like family

No one enjoys losing a good friend. But, unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, especially in this day and time.

Any such loss can be exceptionally difficult when a friend has been around for a long time, practically becoming a part of the family.

Losing a trusted friend, one who knows all your dirty little secrets, is traumatic. It's rare to find a friend who consistently can take most of the dirt you dish and, as if by magic, make it disappear.

What about the friend who can take the heat and without fail effortlessly smooth things out day or night?

Yes, losing a friend is difficult.

But never more so than when they come in pairs and go by names like G.E., Whirlpool or Maytag.

I envy anyone who has had the privilege of experiencing a successful commitment to a major household appliance. I should be so lucky.

In 1985, I made my first attempt at trying to establish a long-term relationship with a washer and dryer set. I had heard stories of folks enjoying the luxury of using their mothers-in-law's hand-me-downs for many years before either needed replacing (the washer or dryer, not the mother-in-law).

I was hopeful, after all my set was brand new.

Less than five years later I had to start all over.

Another five years passed. Again, back to square one.

Three years later, the same old story.

And then we moved to the Ozarks.

To sum it up, in less than 18 years I have been through five sets of washers and dryers. With the exception of the last set, which was included with the purchase of our present home, each was brand spanking new.

What is my problem? I have no idea, but maybe it's similar to the difficulty some people have keeping a wristwatch running. Except in my case, I can't keep a washer or dryer running right.

In all fairness, we have relocated quite a few times, and according to my sources moving can wreak havoc on household appliances.

"Three moves equals a fire," someone related to an insurance adjuster once said to me.

That's a lot of fires.

Recently, I purchased my sixth washer and dryer set.

Beforehand, I did extensive research reading consumer guides and surfing the Internet. I was determined to find a true blue friend. One who wouldn't bail out at the first opportunity and would stick by me through good and bad, thick and thin, dirty and dirtier.

Finally, while browsing at a local store I spotted them. There they were, a matching pair dressed in sparking white understated enamel elegance.

Though for me, it was practically love at first sight, I felt compelled to leave the store and think carefully about this important decision. After all, I had been burned too many times before to rush into anything now.

A few days later, I revisited the store and asked a salesman candid questions about quality, durability and reliability. Convinced I was doing the right thing, I placed my order.

I was ecstatic.

Returning home, I began to prepare the laundry room for my new friends' imminent arrival. Not satisfied to just sweep floors and scrub baseboards, I painted walls, hung wallpaper and had a new ceramic tile floor put in. Then, along with putting in improved plumbing and a special electrical box just for this particular washer and dryer, I replaced the cabinets.

For good measure, and since the new washer and dryer set was stackable, I utilized the extra space and added a bathroom, as well.

Finally, too-many-hundreds-of-dollars later, the laundry room was ready for its new occupants.

Eventually, when our friendship goes through the inevitable trials and tribulations, my washer and dryer set and new best friends had better appreciate all the trouble I went to in trying to welcome them into my family.

I can dream, can't I?

Barbara is a self-syndicated columnist who lives in Willow