Stupid Tuesday questions, Michael Gambon edition

This post will contain mild spoilers about “Gosford Park,” which came out fifty thousand years ago and so there is no need to get huffy about it.

Still here? Splendid.

OK, so there is a scene toward the end of that film wherein we learn who bumped off Sir William McCordle. Kelly Macdonald approaches Helen Mirren as she is doing something with napkins (remember the napkins), and in the conversation that follows various poisonings and betrayals and sorrows are revealed.

I love “Gosford Park.” (Despite our mutual love for “Downton Abbey,” the televisual equivalent of the film and a product of the same writer, my beloved co-blogging best friend and I have different opinions of the movie.) It has a fabulous cast who uniformly deliver impeccable performances (Mirren in particular), with top-notch writing and Altman at his directorial best.

Among the very best scenes is the one I mention above. It opens with Mirren’s character going through the estate’s napkins and mentioning in a casually irritated aside that, were it left up to the maids the household would use the same ones over and over. This small, lapidary detail fits into the whole thrust of the scene, how this woman is such a flawlessly competent housekeeper, that that identity has consumed everything else about her. She is the perfect servant, to the exclusion of her own happiness.

It’s a great scene in a great movie.

But back to the napkins. I watched this model of competence, rotating the table linens so they didn’t keep presenting an increasingly threadbare number of them, and realized “Egads. That’s a good idea.” Now, this might be the sort of thing that everyone intuitively knows to do, but it didn’t actually dawn on me until the first time I watched the movie. As a result, I make sure that all the laundry in the house gets rotated, putting newly folded stuff on the bottom and placing garments or linens that haven’t been recently worn or used on top. Heck, I even rotate plates and glasses.

I have no idea if the Better Half knows I do this. Frankly, I have no idea if this is a routine thing people do, or if it’s some weird OCD-like habit I picked up from watching a movie. But, dammit! If I can squeeze more usability out of towels and my kid’s underpants by paying Mirrenesque attention, so be it.

So this week’s Question is a two-parter, one of which is a follow-up of sorts to last week. First, do other people do the “rotating sheets and T-shirts” thing, or have I picked up a weird tic that I mistook for a good idea? And second, have you ever seen something in a movie, play, TV show or read in a book that made you think “Huh, that’s a good idea!” and altered your behavior in a likewise manner? (Note: “I started taking green coffee supplements because Dr. Oz said so” and changes of that ilk don’t count.)

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18 thoughts on “Stupid Tuesday questions, Michael Gambon edition

  1. I rotate towels and bedsheets.

    I don’t bother much with the kids’ clothes, because kids typically outgrow everything anyway before it wears out at the stage(s) my two are at.

    There is an exception in that Hannah will wear the same stuff four days out of eight if it happens around the correct part of the laundry cycle, so I’ll sometimes look at the stuff at the top of her piles and say, “She’s worn that a kabillion times recently” and stuff it on the bottom of the pile in the drawer.


  2. I usually knit in spirals, rotating the work as I go, while watching movies.

    And I rotate pizza dough (in the air!), though this was inspired by the dudes at Little Stevie’s Pizza in Boston back in the day I was a young thing hanging out in that neighborhood because it’s where Berklee College of Music is located. (Though there was many a run after Saturday Night Live. . .)

    I rotate my tires. Well, I don’t, I have my younger sprout do it, with every oil change. And I also rotate them by seasons; snow tires are a must in Maine.

    I think I must not have as many linens/sheets/clothes; I have enough for a washer full, and when I get to the bottom of the clean stuff, I know it’s time to do another load of laundry.

    And Russel, I’ve been hoping your family is thriving. I miss your voice here; and really happy you’re keeping up with Stupid Tuesday. Thank you for that effort.


  3. I informally rotate shirts, bedsheets etc. I rarely have more than 5 bottom-half clothing items in regular work rotation, but I usually have 2 or 3 weeks worth of tops, and I go out of my way to wear them all. Or at least, I theoretically try to rotate them, but if I really want to wear something on a given day, I wear it even if I just wore it last week.

    This is partly thrift/sensibleness, but also partly that when I was a kid I didn’t have many clothes that fit at any given time (hand-me-downs suck for youngers, but when you are the OLDEST you wish for handmedowns sometimes….). Also, there were a lot of us so things didn’t always get washed quickly or in an organized fashion (ie some things would end up never getting gotten to and languish at the bottom of the laundry for weeks, while recently worn stuff would be on top and get washed first).. Thus, I often had to rewear the same (clean!) clothes in very close repetition, or the same pants I’d already worn once that week, but which were still more or less clean, and it was embarrassing and awkward.

    Is reading books because characters in books like them is too much like the Dr Oz thing to count? Me, I think there’s a difference between reading things I read about in professional collections of book recommendations (Dr. Oz-y) and taking up with writers or musicians or artists’ because of a character’s love for them? In which case, I think “ooh, that’s a good idea” all the time :D. More pragmatically, when I was a kid, I had THE HARDEST time learning to tie my shoes “properly” (almost as hard a time as remembering left and right). Then I read in some book about the easier way to do it (Ramona Quimby, maybe?) and I was QUITE indignant that everyone kept trying to make me do it the hard way. Took me years to convert to the hard way myself. :D


    • I tend to wear the same bottoms to work for a week, or until they get dirty (which rarely happens). I have a few weeks worth of tops in rotation, though I’m going to try and get better about wearing all the brights in a row, so as to have better laundry cycles.


  4. My life is a bit more “complex”. I’ve lived in the same set of towels and sheets (washing them ofc) for several months before I remembered that I had extras in the linen closet / or got around to actually rummaging around in there to find a matching set. Since I have three or four sets, I’ve settled in on a two week cycle of rotation, however, this can be superseeded if I’m too lazy or busy to do laundry.

    Yeah, I know.

    I do recall that I did pick up a habit or two from watching it on tv, but I’m damned if I can recall what they are……


  5. I had to turn on the closed-captioning while watching GP in order to understand the “downstairs” folks. Two countries divided by a common language, indeed.


  6. So, are we still doing Monday trivia, or did that run its course?

    If we are, I have a good one for next week.


  7. Paraphrasing a bit of dialogue from Frasier:

    Daphne: “But I can’t move out! Who would cook your meals, or give you physical therapy, or rotate your underwear, or -”
    Martin: “WHAT?”
    D: “Rotate your underwear.”
    M: “What do you mean, you rotate my underwear?”
    D: “When I do laundry, I throw out any underpants that are getting worn out, and I buy a new pack every month.”
    M: “I never noticed!”
    D: “It’s been 9 years since you bought a pack of underwear? What did you think was going on?”
    M: “I thought I got a really good pack!”


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