Saturday, July 10, 2010


I think I have discovered the reason behind Europe’s depopulation woes.  Their washing machines are too tiny.  Today, after Small Son and his New Girlfriend left to go back to the US, I started changing sheets and doing laundry as one does.  Y’all.  I began at 8 a.m. and it is now 5:30 p.m. and I am still not finished.  My washer is sooooo tiny, (how tiny is it, you ask?), it is sooooo tiny that I have to wash each sheet separately.  Yes.  Both the top sheet and the bottom sheet do not fit in the little container at the same time.  I can fit one sheet and two bath towels and possibly a pair of tightie whities, but not two sheets.

Lawd Amighty, you could fit all of the bedding from the third floor of a Holiday Inn in one load in my washing machine in the US with room left over for a poodle or a small toddler.  The only two women in the US who do more than one load of laundry per day are Kate Gosselin and the Octomom.  So far today, I am on load number FIVE and I am still not finished.  Now, perhaps, you are thinking that Small Son and New Girlfriend are just major dirty laundry producers.  No.  A normal amount, I would say.  Four sheets and a handful of towels.  So, here’s my question.  What do these Euro-women do who have a bunch of kids?

Ah ha!!  They don’t have a lot of kids.  Usually one.  Never more than two.  It’s a real problem over here, the depopulation of Europe.  They are not replacing themselves anymore and I know why.  Women don’t want to spend their entire life in the laundry room watching their three diapers and a couple of pairs of footie pajamas spin round and round.  If I had to do two childrens’ laundry (or more!) every day with these machines, I would require way more Valium than is legally permitted.

I’m really confused about this.  I know the washers and dryers are small so that they will be more energy efficient and use only an eyedropper-full of water for the entire wash/rinse cycle, but, c’mon!  How is it more energy efficient if you have to run ten times as many loads to get the job done?

And, of course, there’s no bleach, but that is an old story and we will not go there.

So, while we are waiting for load number five to finish, let me tell you about The Puzzling Speedo Rule in Evian.  One day while the kids were here, we went down to the private pool/beach here in my city of Lausanne to go swimming.  This is a funny concept so let me explain.  We live on a lake.  Most of the shoreline is rocky.  There are very few actual beaches.

The modus operandi appears to be that every city/town/village along the lake stakes out the very best “beach” within their city limits and fences it off, all the way down from the access road into the water.  Then they add a few pools and a playground within this fenced-in area and they charge you to enter.  Clever.  So, you can go to the crappy beaches or jump off rocks for free, or you can pay a few franc and go to the primo-bitchin’ beaches with pools and high dives and on-site bars and restaurants.  Guess where I prefer to go?

Anyway, we had a nice day, but the pools were not heated.  Remember, it was just snowing here not even a month ago.  These pools were cold even though we are now in the middle of a heatwave.  We went in them but it was not really pleasant.  It was, actually, a bit painful.  The locals were just a-hoopin’ and a-hollerin’ and having a good ol’ time, but our lips were turning blue, if you know what I mean.

We made a collective decision to try out the “private” beach in Evian, which is just a ferry ride away across the lake.  Here’s a hint Lausanne; heat your pools.  The natives are defecting to France.  The ferry was packed with Swissies going to dip in the heated pools in Evian.  HOWEVER.  When we got up to the ticket booth to pay our paltry admittance, (3 euros 50), there was a giant sign regarding proper bathing attire.  There appeared to be a pair of swim trunks with a great big red “X” on it and a picture of a teensy pair of Speedos with no “X”.  Mr. Big and Small Son looked at me like I would be able to interpret this sign.

First of all, it was a GRAPHIC sign, i.e. no words.  Like I am some great interpreter of French graphic signs.  I look at the sign.  I look at Mr. Big and Small Son standing there innocently in their swim trunks.  I look back at the sign.  I say:

“Surely, it means that you cannot wear STREET CLOTHES in the pools.  They cannot possibly mean that every single person in there with a Y chromosome has to wear a Nut Bag.”

Ahh.  Yes, Trailing Spouse!  That is what that must mean!  They just don’t want you in the pool with your regular clothes, like boxers and khakis!  Good on you for figuring out that crazy sign!”

And in we go.

Well, of course, every single man, boy, male infant in the entire place was sporting a Banana Hammock.  Can you say Too Much Information?  I never saw so many packages in my life, except in the Bloomingdale’s Christmas window displays.  I mean, really.  Sir, excuse me, we haven’t even met.  Don’t be pointing that thing at me.

We tried to sneak Small Son down the water slide in his flashy trunks.  Non, non, non.  I tried to explain to the French Pool Gendarme that, in America, my son’s shorts were an actual bathing suit.  Busted.  Back into the lake we went.  You see, you could go in the lake with all of the other middle school juvenile delinquents with those trunks but not the heated pools.

Fast forward to the next day when I went on my favorite website,, and I asked those veterans on there WHY the Only Speedo Rule.  Firstly, I found out it is not just a French thing.  They also have this rule in many pools in Switzerland.  Some people thought it was a hygiene issue, which didn’t make any sense, but then the truth eventually came out.  Speedos are for actual swimming, not just jumping in a pool to horse around and cool off.  It appears to be a cultural thing and, also, a snob thing.  If you are going into a swimming pool, you should be swimming, i.e. doing laps.  Swim trunks are not conducive to doing laps because they fall off.

Fair enough.  I asked Mr. Big and Small Son if they would be willing to don the proper attire to go swimming in the public pools round these parts.  Two guesses what their answer was and the first guess doesn’t count.  “No flippin’ way”.  These are dyed-in-the-wool American guys.  They would rather be hit by a train than exhibit their family jewels out in public.

They did, however, enjoy looking at all the ladies sans bikini tops.  Oh.  Did I forget to mention that little tidbit?  Yes, tops are optional in Evian.  So, don’t feel toooooo badly for Mr. Big and Small Son.  Their day was not an entirely ruined.

Laundry’s done.  More later on the hiking trip we took while Small Son was here.  But no more about Speedos.  I promise.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Trailing Spouse.. I just had to send you a note. I am a 28 year old American girl, living in Lausanne (Morges actually), working at the EPFL. I just stumbled upon your blog this evening, while I was googling who knows what.. ( I have forgotten now, as I got sucked into reading your HILARIOUS and oh-so-true descriptions of life en Suisse.) This particular blog, about the swimming trunks, had me laughing so hard that I spilled my wine and my Swiss roommate was actually drawn out into the living room to see what the heck was wrong with me. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks, because omg, you just really nail it, every time. I really, really hope I run into you some day in Loz. I will buy you a drink or five. Gros becs, Kate