Draws, drawers, drawers / Dibuja, cajones, ropas interiores

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I DECIDED TODAY TO SHARE photos of my drawers, because their neatness makes me happy. That (drawers, not their neatness) reminded me of my early childhood and trying to understand the complexities of the English language.

My parents were both born and raised in Brooklyn. My Mother the Dowager Duchess had a fairly sophisticated accent. My father’s accent was less so but not as “street” as it could have been (The Duchess made sure of that).

We lived on Long Island, a suburb of New York City with similar dialect and a few variations of its own. I loved to learn new words and to write them. I sat at the kitchen table one day writing new words just for fun. C-I-R-C-U-L-A, I wrote. My Mother the Dowager Duchess looked over and said, “There’s an ‘R’ at the end,” before saying the word aloud in her New York City accent, “circula.” I replied, “No there’s not. You said ‘circula.’” She said, “Yes, there’s an ‘R’ at the end. It’s silent.”

One evening at dinner, I said, “Please pass the butter,” emphasising the ‘R’ at the end of the word. The Duchess asked, indignantly, “Where did you learn to speak like that?” (Apparently another silent ‘R’.)

Another time, I was doing a homework assignment and I wrote, “Put it in the draw.” The Duchess corrected my spelling. How she explained it was, “The word is ‘draw’ with an ‘ER’ at the end. Not ‘draw’ like a picture.” Argh.

We moved to Brooklyn when I was 10. I had a friend who told me his parents bought him a new ‘chestadraws.’ I had no idea what he was talking about (a chest of drawers).

I left New York a long time ago. I draw a picture and I put my drawers in a drawer. My ‘Rs’ are not silent. And now I’m going to try and explain this all in Spanish.

For those of you who know only a tiny bit of Spanish, the word cajones in the title may have surprised you. Cajones means drawers (like those in your dresser) and is not to be confused with cojones, which means balls (like those in your, um, drawers — well in some drawers).
Speaking of which, my father had a woman on his staff (a supervisor) who annoyed him regularly. She expected to be treated like the men. Imagine that. Her name was Cleo. My father regularly complained to The Duchess about Cleo. He would say, “She’s got a pair of balls for a broad.” If we kids were within hearing range, The Duchess would say, “David!”


DECIDÍ HOY COMPARTIR FOTOS DE mis cajones, porque su pulcritud me hace feliz. Eso (los cajones, no su pulcritud) me recordó a mi primera infancia y al tratar de entender las complejidades del idioma inglés.

Mis padres nacieron y se criaron en Brooklyn. Mi madre, la duquesa viuda, tenía un acento bastante sofisticado. El acento de mi padre lo era menos, pero no tan “callejero” como podría haber sido (La duquesa se aseguró de eso).

Vivíamos en Long Island, un suburbio de la ciudad de Nueva York con un dialecto similar y algunas variaciones propias. Me encantaba aprender nuevas palabras y escribirlas. Me senté a la mesa de la cocina un día escribiendo nuevas palabras solo por diversión. C-I-R-C-U-L-A, escribí. Mi madre, la duquesa viuda, miró y dijo: “Hay una ‘R’ al final”, antes de decir la palabra en voz alta con su acento de la ciudad de Nueva York, “circula”. Respondí: “No, no lo hay. Dijiste ‘circula’”. Ella dijo: “Sí, hay una ‘R’ al final. Es silenciosa”.

Una noche, durante la cena, dije: “Por favor, pásame la ‘butter’ [mantequilla]”, haciendo hincapié en la ‘R’ al final de la palabra. La duquesa preguntó, indignada: “¿Dónde aprendiste a hablar así?” (Aparentemente, otra ‘R’ silenciosa).

En otra ocasión, estaba haciendo una tarea y escribí: “Ponlo en el ‘draw’”. La duquesa corrigió mi ortografía. La forma en que lo explicó fue: “La palabra es ‘draw’ [cajón] con una ‘ER’ al final. No ‘draw’ [dibuja] como una imagen.” Uf.

Nos mudamos a Brooklyn cuando tenía 10 años. Tenía un amigo que me dijo que sus padres le habían comprado un nuevo “chestadraws”. No tenía idea de lo que estaba hablando (‘chest of drawers’, una cómoda).

Me fui de Nueva York hace mucho tiempo. Yo ‘draw’ [dibujo] y guardo mi ‘drawers’ [ropa de interior] en un ‘drawer’ [cajón}. Mis ‘R’ no son silenciosas. Esto era bastante confuso en inglés. Espero que tenga al menos algún sentido en español.

T-shirts are organised by collar (v- or crew-neck), by cotton weight, and then (somewhat) by color. And then there’s the special section topped by my South Dakota T-shirts.
Las camisetas están organizadas por cuello (de pico o redondo), por peso de algodón y luego (un tanto) por color. Y luego está la sección especial coronada por mis camisetas de Dakota del Sur.
The underwear is organised by brand (because of fit), by wear order (so they circulate), and by style (briefs, square cuts).
La ropa interior está organizada por marca (por ajuste), por orden de uso (para que circule) y por estilo (calzoncillos, cortes cuadrados).
The sock drawer.
El cajón de calcetines.
Dudo would like to sleep in my drawers. Oh, how I love these cats. Just look at that face.
A Dudo le gustaría dormir en mis cajones. Oh, cuánto amo a estos gatos. Sólo mira esa cara.
And speaking of drawers.
Y hablando de ‘drawers’ (pantalones).

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

42 thoughts on “Draws, drawers, drawers / Dibuja, cajones, ropas interiores”

    1. Kathleen:
      Oh, I hate Marie Kondo. “Throw out anything that doesn’t give you joy”?!?!?!!? And then she goes and sells useless crap online for a fortune of money. But I do like to make Pedro proud.

  1. My English grandmother corrected my pronunciation. All that time spend precisely folding and organizing.

    1. David:
      Putting things into the drawers that way really take no more time than folding them and stashing them. And then you have to sift whenever you want something. My closet doesn’t have the room to be as pretty, but short sleeves are in a row, then long sleeve, then pants. When things are under control, they’re arrange by color. My Polish grandmother called a synagogue a cindergarden. I never had to worry about being correct.

  2. Now there’s a ‘profession’ waiting to be tapped into…….a professional organizer! We could use one!!
    I think we all love your cats as well, Mitchell.

    1. Jim:
      Had I known about professional organizers when I started out, I probably would have done it.

  3. Okay ….Google gave me an attitude and I don’t know if my comment was accepted so ….

    I am making the same face as Dudo because, dear goddess Mitchell, it’s like looking into my own drawers … without the compartment dividers. I am in Organized Heaven!

    1. Bob:
      Google has a LOT of attitude. Organisers! Give me an unlimited budget and a day in an organiser store. Heaven in a warehouse!

  4. Wow, all this time I’ve been spelling balls wrong in Spanish! “Man he’s got major drawers!” isn’t as impressive, is it? All of my grand parents were from some place in the South originally, so I grew up saying draws. It sounds funny now, but the word panty still gives me the creeps 🙂 I love accents. My best friend is from Albany, NY, originally. I met her in San Diego, when she got out of the army. You couldn’t tell she was from NY until she said cawfee, or youse, with an occasional Italian phrase thrown in. I loved it.
    Now about this neat draws in the drawer thing, what’s up with that!? It’s pretty and all, but if my drawers looked like that I would leave the draws in there instead of grabbing a pair and messing up the order. Balled up and thrown in works for me.

    1. Deedles:
      I should have mentioned “conejo” is rabbit. A young woman I heard about went to Ecuador to study and squealed with delight when she saw all the cute little “cojones”!!! She never lived it down. The Albany accent is very distinctive. Not a New York City accent but not like any of the areas of Upstate New York either. Balled up and thrown in makes me absolutely crazy. Seriously. Neat and organised drawers really improve my mental health.

      1. Whatever gets you through the night, Scoot. I’m all for improving mental health, hence, I don’t drive myself nuts by folding underwear! Sometimes the laundered (sounds classier than washed, doesn’t it?) clothes just stay in the baskets until the next wash day when I need them to sort dirty clothes. It’s nice not to have kids to clean up after anymore 🙂

      2. Deedles:
        SG’s sister used to leave everything in the laundry basket and iron whatever she needed for that particular day. It drove her mother crazy. She wanted to iron everything for her all at once.

  5. you need more color in your briefs; too much black. make a rainbow, like mistress maddie does. you would shit if you ever saw my clothes closet; NO organization whatsoever.

    we ALL love moose and dudo!

    “youse guys goin’ downdashore dis weekind? jeet yet?”

    1. anne marie:
      I DO need more color. I buy them in three-packs and take whatever colors they have, which is how I ended up with one pair of bland pink Calvins. I LOVE regional dialect!

  6. I grew up in “Frog Hollow” section of Hartford (CT). We had a similar way of mispronouncing words: cheer instead of chair; we also said “put that in the draw” and that’s not “fear” instead of “fair”. And now you would be appalled to see my sock draw. All my other clothes are in shelves in the closet.

    1. Frank:
      I’ve never heard of Frog Hollow. What a great name. It’s fascinating how regional dialects develop. One hour north of the City of New York and the accent is so different. I loved traveling through Connecticut to Maine and listening to all the changes and variations along the way. Same here in Spain from one village to the next.

  7. I still occasionally say “sarah-day” instead of “saturday” which betrays my rural prairie roots. Also, I tend to add “eh” on to sentences, like a true Canadian.

    I like to think my dresser drawers are organized too, but using dividers like that would drive me mental. But hey, no judgment, eh?

    1. Debra:
      The dividers are actually fabric boxes. They make it even easier. Nothing strays! It’s my idea of heaven. Sarah-day! I love that. Our friend’s daughter Sarah moved with her parents from Illinois to Boston when she was 4. On her first day of school, she asked her parents why if her name was Sarah everyone (including her teacher) called her Sare-Er.

  8. Drawers? Don’t have any. All my clothes are littered over all the bedroom floor, allowing the cats to make their choice of snoozing location, changing it every few days or less. Thank heavens for clothes brushes!

      1. From what you say earlier above, W.Q., I think you and I may have a lot in common, though I’m probably a stage further down the trail of total disorder than you are. 🙂

    1. Raybeard:
      Oh, you and SG would get along well. He said when he was growing up, he would kick a trail through his clothes from the door to his bed. My sister was the same way before she was married. She had three trails, from the door: to the bed, to the closet, and to the desk.I had a photo of her bedroom that I threatened to share years later when she had a home of her own. She was meticulous in her own house. I was shocked.

      1. @raybeard, you are correct, you are further down the trail than I am. in my house I am a slob; at work, I am immaculate.

  9. Accents always fascinate me too. I met a woman in my neighborhood last year, and as she was talking I said to her, “You are from upstate NY, near Lake Ontario.”. She was surprised as I was right. I could tell by her accent. I have drawer envy. Though mine are organized, yours are much more so.

    1. mcpersonalspace54:
      Those are my best drawers. My closet is a disaster. It’s not large, has all my hanging clothes, our winter coats, our suits and sports jackets, neck ties, suitcases, gym bags, dead storage (like a dozen boxes from a toy train, all my shoes, a couple of large tote bags of things for a friend who usually comes to Spain every year and doesn’t want to haul them back and forth, and so much more. My idea of heaven would be to turn one of the bedrooms into a walk-in closet (for me) but then SG would be without an office! Anyway, I love those times when I can tell where someone’s from just be hearing them speak. I would never recognise Lake Ontario, although I usually get Rochester, NY.

      1. mcpersonalspace54:
        I should have realized that! I went to school outside Rochester and we would sometimes drive up to Lake Ontario.

  10. OK, your “draws” are much neater than mine! And I always thought I was a fairly neat person. (I do at least rotate my underwear, but I keep it in a rather haphazard stack.)

    Have you been reading Marie Kondo?!

    1. Steve:
      But don’t look in my desk drawers or my closet. Disasters. (And what the inside of my mind REALLY looks like.) As for Marie Kondo: No thanks. I’ve never watched her and probably never will. I read about her at the start and thought her comment about getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy was absurd. And then she immediately came out with an online store (I did look at it) with ridiculously unnecessary and overpriced crap that wouldn’t bring anyone joy except her as she lined her pockets with cash. I remember a sharp piece of wood for $12. I have no idea what it was for. Ooh, I guess she really struck a nerve.

  11. My DH has more t-shirts–I stopped counting at 75– than he does drawers (of either kind). I’ve resorted to–very unhappily– stacking them (beautifully folded) on a bedroom bookcase. Seemingly, they all hold special memories. Told him that from now on he has to get rid of ten shirts for every new shirt he buys. Grrr.

    1. Mary:
      As a result of your comment, I counted mine. Thanks to DH, I don’t feel at all bad. I only have 32 T-shirts and 12 tank tops and muscle-Ts (unfortunately they don’t come with the muscles included). I really only have two “special memory” T-shirts now, the ones from South Dakota. All others bit the dust and I no longer buy those fun kind. SG’s sister bought me the Pierre shirt after a Christmas visit in 1983 and the other when they visited us in Connecticut in 1989. They must have been really good quality because they’ve had a lot of wear and still look great.

  12. Dudo’s cute pink nose looks like a rabbit nose. I fold my T shirts like you do. I fold my undies like a spring roll.

    When I was a child, I had a difficult time reconciling the spelling of “mirror” with its pronunciation as “mirra”. We had “chesterdrars” i guess some Appalachian mountain accent crept into the otherwise deep south. I often still leave off the final “g” when I’m talkin’.

    1. Wilma:
      Yes, mirror! In NYC, it was mirrah (really all those dropped “Rs” sounded like they were replaced with “Hs” by my mother. And then there was “calenda.” And it’s another one that confused me. And oh yeah. I regularly drop the final “g” but I’m very aware I’ve done it. THAT was not silent in the Dowager Duchess’s book.

  13. Your “draws” are gorgeous. Mine are well organized, too, but I’m not going to show them off because I don’t want everyone to see my bloomers. Various pronunciations can be frustrating and confusing. I spoke to someone on the phone who kept talking about an “arthur.” It didn’t make any sense. Turned out she meant “author.”


    1. janiejunebug:
      I have so much fun with different pronunciations of the same word. SG hired someone years ago who moved from Illinois to Boston for the job. She dictated a report that a secretary then transcribed. Throughout the recording SG’s colleague repeatedly talked about Mrs. Hahn. The secretary typed Mrs. Horn, which is exactly how it was pronounced!

  14. Your draws are lovely but I have to ask what are those webbed feet on the top of your sock drawer?

  15. Belatedly… Your drawers (as in the type found in dressers and cabinets) look exactly like mine. This indicates that you are a supremely good person with astounding intelligence and fabulous taste – if I do say so myself.

    1. wickedhamster:
      About twice a year, I make my closet look that way, too. It’s not easy. It’s what’s called fitting 10 pounds of mud in a 5-pound sack… as Dolly Parton so aptly said it when she “popped her dress” at an awards show. And, yes, we are exceptional human beings, aren’t we?

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