“ . . . Girls — to do the dishes
Girls—to clean up my room
Girls —to do the laundry
Girls —and in the bathroom . . .”
—The Beastie Boys
There were two chores I hated the most about being a girl: ironing and washing someone else’s clothes. The piles and piles of dad and mom’s dress clothes on top of our clothes seemed endless (thank God father worked in construction or else long sleeve dress shirts would have added more to the pile). As soon as mom started setting up el burro—the ironing board—in what should have been half a dining room, but we used as a bedroom instead, I began my whining.
“Mamá—pero, ¿por qué tengo que planchar—yo—la ropa de mi papá?”
“¡Ay! Sofía eres tan floja.”
“Es que no entiendo. Yo no me pongo la ropa de mi ‘apa. Pero, ¿por qué yo?”
“¡Ay! Sofía, ¿ya vamos a empezar? ¡Eres una contestona! Esa boca. Esa lengua tuya. ¿A quien salistes en lo contestón?” 
When I nagged, mother’s facial gestures expressed her disappointment in me as she turned her face away. What had she done to deserve such a lazy daughter like myself? With a cold bitter laugh, mother would respond, “Porque es tu papá,” which I never understood.
Because we couldn’t afford a fancy steam iron, mom was practical; instead of using a spray bottle, mom sprayed dad’s dress shirts including other garments with her mouth. She gracefully spat on each garment lying on el burro.
Ironing was always an all-nighter that seemed endless and agonizing for a third grader. I hated ironing dad’s dress shirts—or anything that required special care and required mom’s supervisory instructions.
Having to live in apartments also meant we needed to fight over laundromat visitation rights. If anybody left her or his clothing unattended and the dryer or washer cycle ended, my sister had to spy to check if anyone was coming, and I’d quickly take out the clothing and place it on a folding table and quickly place ours inside and then run to our apartment; otherwise, we’d be washing and drying all day.
When we moved from Vista to San Marcos, that’s when I noticed that chores strategically favored the boys in the family. For instance, we girls never carried out the trash—just heavy laundry baskets mounted with dirty clothes.
Dad would drop us of at the laundry mat on Mission Avenue next to the cows to wash and fold everything from heavy king sized blankets to dad’s dirty and not so white underwear. Bras and underwear were the most embarrassing garments to dry, especially when red or not so new underwear fell to the ground while we checked the clothes in the dryer. (If an undergarment accidentally fell, it’s not like we could ignore it and just leave it there when it was clear that we were watching each other.) For us, if someone looked at our underclothes, it was as if they were looking at our naked bodies. (It was the equivalent of watching feminine hygiene commercials in front of boys or worse—dad.) Oh my God! ¡Trágame tierra!
Sometimes, when we barely had enough quarters and single dollar bills in our imitation Ziploc bag to spare, I would window shop at the vending machine with its snacks and cigarettes and stared, admiring the package labels with the bright oranges and mustardy yellows.
While we waited for the washer to end, we sat on the orange laundromat chairs (bolted to the ground in case anyone tried to steal them, I suppose), and my eyes began to wander—the graffiti, the announcements, the tile floor that needed a broom and a mop, the Spanish newspapers with the sexy ladies with their back to the readers wearing a two piece—a thong and high heels, and the constant drop off and pick up of wives and daughters.
Swinging my feet back and forth out of boredom, I would stare at the dryer’s circular-glass door with the thick-black trim, where garments would slowly go round and round and round and round, painting a picture of a vanilla and chocolate ice cream swirl, which was like meditating in front of a TV screen. Another dryer gave form to motley of colors from the palette of Matisse’s bright yellows, blacks, oranges and greens that Ms. Watson, my favorite Art teacher had lectured on.
And then, the dryer would come to a stop, and the colors would take their true forms in need of folding.
 “Mom, but why do I have to iron dad’s clothes?”
 “Oh, Sofía you’re so lazy.”
 “It’s just that I don’t understand. I don’t wear dad’s clothes. But, why me?”
 “Oh! Sofía, are you going to start? You always talk back!That mouth. That tongue of yours. Where did you learn that from?”
 “Because he’s your dad”
 “Earth devour me!”