One Night in a Laundromat
Someone had spelled “Nadir” wrong and the sign said “Laundromat.”
Four loads of laundry stuffed into a denim duffel bag that also needed washing. Almost 11 PM and the place looked like it had been frozen in the 60s and smelled like it had been dipped in the sweat of greasy men with hairy backs and flabby women with hairy chins.
Usually, only a few machines rumbled, twitched and twirled. Paper signs decorated surfaces in never a discernible pattern. Tiny boxes, empty and gaping, dotted the floor and other horizontal surfaces like dead cartoon mice. Hangers were cast about like sprung snares. In a corner, ashamed, lay an article of clothing that could have been a towel, a shirt or a throw-rug. It wasn’t.
Next to Nadir was a small apartment complex boasting a menagerie of more than the usual oddballs: the guy who washed only jeans and blue T-shirts (I grokked); the gal who brought all her clothes, but pulled out underwear and socks and took them back; the guy that washed everything together and wore gray, except for his colorful bandannas, washed separately, and the gal that sat on her washer and leaned against her dryer’s door during the entire process. I asked her if the door got hot. She told me to mind my own business. I told her she had lipstick on her tooth.
That night, the menagerie had spilled over. Every available washer was churning its guts, the dryers were roasting and one had its temporary owner standing guard. A wasted trip was not an option. I actually started thinking about dumping the laundry and buying new clothes. As I calculated how much that would dent my budget, Hortense-at-the-Dryer yanked her clothes out and after giving me—or the wall next to me—a dirty look, I was alone.
With lots and lots of clothes.
I was moving even before the decision was made. I flung open every washer and dryer. With production line efficiency that would have made Henry Ford, Sr. weep with joy, I carried clothes from one washer to another, from dryer to dryer, then from washer to dryer and dryer to washer. I danced, twirled and whistled, a busy dwarf named “Bubbly.” First lineal, then skipping every other, then as random as can be, I tossed clothes around with merry abandon until I was sure I had been generous to everybody. I even placed quarters in every machine, to keep the party rolling.
My duffel bag felt weightless. The night had cooled for everybody but me. I was free from Nadir, my heart was pure and all was right in Prankville.
I switched my laundry drag to another place, one called “Doldrums.” It too had its sign misspelled as “Laundromat.”