Sunday, March 9, 2008

Day sixty nine...It all comes out in the wash.

What a rude and selfish person.

That's what I said to myself this evening as I stood folding my first of 3 dryer loads of freshly cleaned clothes at the Masonic St. Laundromat.

I was referring to a very high profile female who made me mad as hell.

Those of you who live in Northampton will probably know who I am referring to.

Those of you who don't are lucky.

She's tall, she's thin, she has beautiful long curly brown hair, and cheek bones that scream good breeding. She always wears dresses and carries a Coach handbag. And she is one of the few people I have seen in town who actually wears nylons.

They look so weird; like a plastic doll or a mannequin, which, I suppose, ultimately is a plastic doll.

She's a feminist and a Republican. Her car has a "Strong Men Don't Bully" bumper sticker on one side (the left) and a "Bush/Cheney '04" on the other.

She strides around in high heels downtown like she's got an appointment with the Governor.

And like a wild animal she has absolutely no regard for laundry room etiquette.

I like doing laundry. It gives me a chance to slowly and carefully re-appreciate my collective public sense of dress. I mean sure, I have a lot of pajamas which only get seen by my band mates or my sleepover pals, but everything else is up for grabs. Everything else gets seen one way or another.

Of course you can only really enjoy this part when your clothes are actually clean. It would be kind of gross if you held each dirty t-shirt or pair of pants up to the light, shook them open, admired them with a sense of history, and then sent them off to the agitator with a good luck wish.

But at the other end of the process it is more than OK.

So I'm standing there with my favorite "Black Death, European Tour" t-shirt with the big orange rat on the front when my peripherals ran up the warning flag.

Someone was messing with my duds.

It all started with a rude exchange.

It was 7:30 on a Sunday evening. The place was almost empty. There were two empty carts under the folding table and I was standing in front of them folding my clothes. She came over and without looking up at me, without saying a word, put her hand on the cart, and pulled it an inch or two to indicate that she wanted to use it.

I looked down expecting an "excuse me" or maybe a "can I grab this" from her.


So, I graciously stepped aside to grant her access to the precious carts. She grabbed one with a jerky motion and moved it over to the bank of dryers where my other two finished loads of clothes were luxuriating.

I let it go. She's one of those girls in town that I've always kind of wondered about; what her story is; what her voice sounds like; will it match the pretty exterior?

At that moment I was wondering if she could talk at all.

And as I turned to the left, towards the long row of dryers which housed my pampered Guess jeans and Gap t-shirts, I saw it. I saw Ms. Lefty Righty picking the last of my clothes out of one of the dryers and putting them in the cart she so rudely acquired mere moments prior.

In fact, she took one of my nicest dress socks, one from a pair that Diane from The Chorus had recently given me as a gift, and was holding it like it was the tail of a rat which she had the unfortunate responsibility of disposing of.

I wish it had been. That would have been apropos.

I looked at the dryers on the left. There were six empty ones.


She put her money in and turned the knob and sat down.

I said, "You know...if you had asked I would have done that for you."

And out of the prettiest pair of lips, accompanied by fluttering eyelashes, came a voice made exclusively for green slimy monsters on Saturday morning cartoons.

"Whaaaaatttt???" She said.

Understandably, I was taken aback.

"I...I said. If you had only asked instead of just taking my clothes out of the dryer I would have gladly done it for you."

She said, "Oh, it says on the sign that if the dryers are stopped you can take the clothes out, so I did."

"Oh" I said, and looked in the direction of the six open dryers on the other wall.

"There's a whole wall of empty dryers you could have chosen from." I incredulously explained.

To which she replies, "Oh, well most of them don't work anyway."

Well I'll be.

I looked around the laundromat for the sign which vested such territorial power in Ms. Lefty Righty and found none. I also could find no sign signifying that the other six dryers were out of order.

I watched her put a few items of clothing on the closed lid of a running washing machine. I watched as she feigned ignorance when the owner of the clothes inside came back and asked whose they were. He was polite. It was nice to see.

It was a pair of satin panties and a halter top.

She just sat there and read her book.

So the guy had to move her unmentionables to get his clothes and get on with his mundane task.

I folded the rest of my clothes and watched her play with her curly hair. I watched her read her book all the while ignoring the world around her.

And as I came across my favorite Red Sox shirt which I'm going to keep clean until opening day, I stood there and marveled at such an unaware person.

She sat there while I hauled my clothes out the door and stepped into the cold air. Her see through plastic mannequin nylons seemed so much more revealing.

See, you can dress like you were brought up right. You can hold yourself like you're confident and secure. And you can walk like you've got somewhere important to go.

But a simple act of unnecessary selfishness can really ruin a good fake.

In the end, it all comes out in the wash.

Thanks for reading.



Anonymous said...

Laundromat Babe! You're writing about Laundromat Babe! The one who is constantly twirling her hair around her finger to make those long sausage curls. The big-breasted woman who is always over-dressed and seems to always be in either the Woodstar Cafe or at the laundromat or strutting down the street. OMG! OMG! Have you noticed that when she walks by you hear the strains of "Here she she comes again..."

Oh, I do not miss having my clothing ruined in those washers and dryers, no not at all.

F. Alex Johnson said...

Yes indeed. She kept curling that hair as if she just heard a rumor that by doing so it would increase McCain's chances for Pres.