The Italian Kenmore Dryer

10 Mar

If you aren’t from the States, you might not know about Kenmore appliances, but they’re the store brand sold at a large chain of stores called Sears, where happy homemakers go to buy things like washers and dryers, dishwashers, lawn mowers, tools. And where some really really unlucky kids get dragged by their moms for back to school clothes shopping. No, I’m NOT naming names. Therapy does wonders for recovering from the trauma, however. Don’t ask me how I know that.

ANYHOO, point being, I’m really excited because I bought myself the latest version of the Italian Kenmore clothes dryer on Friday, bringing me to a grand total of not one, but TWO! How lucky am I? I get to launder clothes not only for myself, but also for my three preschool-aged children, as well as all of our linens and towels.

As a testimony to the hallowed Kenmore dryer, don’t take it from me, take it from the “Dave Brubecks” below, in a pearl of wisdom from 1969:

brubecks ad

Pianist-composer Dave Brubeck lives in a huge Japanese style house in Connecticut with 5 pianos and 6 children. Statuesque Iola Brubeck runs the big house without any help except for a cleaning lady one day a week. “With six children, I needed the best dryer there is,” says Mrs. Brubeck, standing in her kitchen next to her new Lady Kenmore dryer from Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Oh, God bless statuesque Mrs. Iola Brubeck. You see, I feel like she and I have so much in common. Except for the fact that I’m not married to a legendary jazz pianist and I only have 3 kids not six, and I’m divorced, and I live in Italy not Wilton, Connecticut, and I don’t run a huge Japanese-style house… but I am rather statuesque, though, at 5 ft. 11 inches. That’s 180 cm to you Europeans. What I really envy Iola for, however, is her Lady Kenmore dryer from Sears, Roebuck and Co.

People will ask me from time to time, what do you miss most about life in the United States? After a quick mental battle between Skippy Chunky peanut butter and the Kenmore fine line of dryers, I go with Kenmore, every time.

Because you see, my dear readers, this is what an Italian Kenmore looks like in the non-huge, non-Japanese style apartment that I proudly call home:

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I will have you note that I bet good ol’ statuesque Iola didn’t have a RED AND YELLOW IKEA CIRCUS TENT for her six children! Nooooo, eh? Ha! Gotcha there, Iola! Take THAT with your damn Lady Kenmore “for women who want the best even if it does cost less.”

And yes, astute observers will note that that family photo framed on the wall is, in fact, my daughter at age 2 standing in a diaper on the kitchen counter wearing Nikes, socks, and a long chain necklace. I like to think she might have a career as a rapper. She might think differently. Only time will tell.

Did you see the blue curtain-like thing on the right? Yeah. That’s the sheets hanging out on the line on my balcony. Kenmore #3, if you want.

Oh, people. Look. Even psycho-baby (the name I’ve devised for this evil baby doll that my same daughter adores and got from God only knows where, I think my MIL, and reminds me totally of that freaky doll from Toy Story) is desperate, as she sometimes is wont to do:

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I have no idea what the picture is next to her head. Maybe it’s like a Rorschach test that one of my kids developed in order to test psycho-baby’s state of mental health. In any case I don’t think it could be any worse than my own!

See, now you understand my envy. I need a Lady Kenmore, people. I really do. I know, there are dryers in Italy, I know, I know. But they aren’t the energy-sucking behemoths of my homeland. They’re puny.

I think if I ran a Kenmore in my apartment, I might blow out electricity from here to the Vatican.

You do know that if I run my washing machine, hot water heater (electric, I know, so primitive) and hair dryer all at once, I get a total blackout and have to go down to the building’s basement to flip the breaker switch? No, seriously. Yes, I know, I know, I could ask the electric company to increase the power available all at once, but I don’t want to. I kind of like the fact that it makes me more conscious of my energy consumption.

That being said, running an American dryer in my apartment would be such a fun experiment, don’t you think?

All joking aside (honestly! put joking aside for a moment!) I’m not even really complaining because I can drape heavy clothes like jeans and sweatshirts over the radiators. What? You didn’t know this is the Italian equivalent of a real dryer? Come on now! Get with it!

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I like to refer to this technique as the “towel warmer.” Isn’t it luxurious having a warm towel when you step out of your shower?

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This one is the ‘fleece and other heavy materials like jeans’ station. Please note psycho-baby still despairing in the upper left corner.

Is it shameless of me to show this ignominy? Possibly. But I like to think I’m “keepin it real” … or something.

Back to joking aside though. The fact that most Italian households don’t have a dryer is due to the fact that it consumes such an ungodly amount of electricity, it would be truly unheard of. From this article about alternatives to clothes dryers, we learn that

An electric clothes dryer draws between 4,000 and 6,000 watts, and costs about 60 cents an hour — about $158 per year, on average — to operate.

I guess from an average U.S. middle-class household budget perspective, that really isn’t much money, which is why it’s so easy to just dry clothes in a dryer. Sigh.

Oh hell, I don’t want to get into a big environmental debate. I’ll stick to my two rickety clothes-drying racks and the oh-so-asthetically-pleasing towels and jeans draped over the radiator.

But, if you want to lend some solidarity from outside Europe, you, too, can join Project Laundry List!

Do it for psycho-baby.


16 Responses to “The Italian Kenmore Dryer”

  1. Eleonora March 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    I’m happy to notice that we have the same Ikea tent, the same dryer system (I have the dutch version of it though!) and same desperate toys in the background.
    That’s what best friends are for!

  2. nicki March 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Hey, you’re one up on me with those radiators!

  3. Beth March 10, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    hey, I don’t have a Kenmore, but I do have a 2 year old Bosch Ecologixx dryer that holds 7 kilos and is a lifesaver, especially in the rainy wintery season. We’ll be selling it soon as we’ll be headed back to the States–let me know if you’re interested 🙂

  4. Lulu March 10, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    That is hilarious! DO you realise it is Mother’s Day in England?, what a Classic Post,
    Forget the chocolate and flowers – just give the girl a Kenmore…….

    P.S. My very modern architect designed apartment building on a Venetian Island
    blows you into a blackout every time I use my hairdryer at the same time as the oven/
    and all the electric lights..It is hilarious! but you are right, It wouldn’t occur to me to ask for a higher amount of power nor would I feel I should have it.

    My daughter too had a pyscho doll …actually we bought in Italy but hers used to speak
    Italian when you squeezed it’s tummy but you could never really hear what it was saying
    (probably just as well!)

    Happy Mother’s Day


  5. March 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

    Beautiful picture of the Brubecks even if it is a Sears ad. Are you allowed to have outside clothes lines, like they have in Naples, so you can hang your clothes outside in good weather? I realized how hard it is to do laundry the way you just described. I got tired just reading this.

  6. Un'americana a Roma March 11, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Yes, absolutely! The Ikea tent was fun at first, but now only the cats really play in it. Oh well.

  7. Un'americana a Roma March 11, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Ha ha! Yeah let me tell you, they do the trick!

  8. Un'americana a Roma March 11, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    BETH! YES! This is the dryer that my friend Michelle (US expat married to an Italian in Milan) recommended to me! She swears by it in the rainy/winter season and says it hasn’t put a dent in their electric bill at all. YOU ARE A GODSEND, I’ve got dibs on it. When are you headed back? My email is Grazie 1000!

  9. Un'americana a Roma March 11, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    Aw, so sweet! Happy Mother’s Day to you too! I think all kids should have creepy little psycho baby doll toys, honestly, it’s sweet that my daughter doesn’t judge a book by its cover. God bless her! 🙂

  10. Un'americana a Roma March 11, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    No seriously, my house literally is a circus, Ikea tent or not. Imagine my laundry “problem” as a single mom with three preschoolers. Just the socks alone are enough to drive a sane person into the madhouse. Plus just for fun we have two sea turtles and two kittens. So, you know, it’s good times!
    I too absolutely adored that ad. I LOVE vintage advertising copy. It’s the copywriter in me (one of my former lives was as an advertising copywriter, but truly I wish I had been Peggy from Mad Men…the days of writing copy like that are sadly gone…) I found it on a fun blog called “I’m Learning to Share!”

  11. simcek March 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    They sell Skippy Chunky at my local supermarket. Tried it a few weeks ago, didn’t like it: Calvè way better…

    ps. Have you ever thought of a tumble dryer? They’re not energy sucking machines but still do the job.

  12. Janet Thomas March 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    The dryers in Switzerland are so bad they are not even worth using. At least we have clotheslines in basement, but they are so high, I guess for giants. And the washers are pretty small too. I do miss the laundry facilities in the US, I must say. And elevators.

  13. Taryn March 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    One of your best posts ever!

  14. Antiqua Tours March 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    This is the funniest post ever. And I feel ya! I am so sick of the rain. All of the heaters are covered in clothes sothe house does not get warm. Needs me a drier too!!

  15. Un'americana a Roma March 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Seriously, sister. This rain is enough. I mean, hell, I moved back here from Seattle to get away from this. Ok, enough complaining though. At least we do get to have laundry fun times all winter long! Ha!!

  16. Jano Janotech March 14, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    It’s funny to see an american without dryer.
    And I always wonder why,in sunny states (example California), people use dryer instead of…..sun.
    10 minutes and clothes are dried.
    Maybe people are lazy and don’t mind about wasting resources that way.

    Same case of cars, why do you have need to make 6000-7000cm3 cars, only to get to work 5km(…ops 3miles) far?

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