Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Laundry mats...

In the aftermath of the great toilet debacle, I had found that the maintenance guy had kindly flooded my bathroom. ("Stupid gringo! Here's some water for you, gringo!") I hadn't noticed until my bathroom carpet took on a rather... squishy texture... and off to the laundromat we went!

I actually try to avoid the laundromat whenever I can. Laudromats are strange places. I don't feel I fit in at a laundromat... though I am one of the three demographics that laundromats serve.

The first is the inbred. I don't think that needs any discussion. We know them. We've seen them. To the inbred, a laundromat is the New York freaking Public Library.
Next, those who appear to be inbred. Unfortunate as this group might be, honestly, if you're going to look inbred, that's just how it goes.
Third and finally, bachelors. Me. And so I was there.

I remember how my mom used to bring us to the laundromat with her when we were children, my brother, my sister and I. Were we the inbred or simply those who appeared so? I honestly don't know. My sister lives up in the Ozarks of Oregon and my brother has a hard time holding down a job as a security guard and my step-father was in pest control... you be the judge. I remember that my mom didn't have a car, then. It was very close to when my dad left and she was perpetually broke and he was perpetually not paying child support... we would walk to the laundromat with our clothes in a red wagon... I think if I drove by those people (my family) today, I'd think, "What a bunch of inbred, hick losers!"

(And now an aside brought to you by Existentialism by Sartre: Knowing this, how can I not feel a certain responsibility toward my fellow man when I was once a part of those "hick losers"? How can I now want to reach out to a hungry child when I was that same child, once?)

I hadn't bothered wringing out my carpet - what's more gross, wringing or not? - and plopped it into the washer. I also brought another basket with clothes and put them in two other washers. Around me, two children circled, running around the perimeter of the laundromat... screaming as though the were on fire. I looked over at their mother and father, who stood vacant-stared. They didn't read, speak, move... nothing. Perhaps the kids had killed them - they'd certainly deafened them.

I shouted, "Hey!" I was trying to quiet them.

They looked at me - knowingless.

Then, their father said something in spanish. They ran to him and he seemed to order them to drink their sodas. Good. More sugar. Good.

You stupid dope.

I left, taking my carpet's laundry basket - my dripping laundry basket - with me. I was going to put it in my car but I figured I'd leave it out in the sun... dry it out, you know? Then, I sat outside the laundromat, outside the screams of the hell beasts, and read.

Soon, a car pulled up. It was a very small car, like an old Toyota Corolla, but it was stuffed to the roof panels with children. A woman stepped out from the driver's side, followed by a small boy. The pile of other children in the car kind of collapsed to fill the empty space.

Then, walking across the parking lot, carrying clothes, came a creature that can only be expressed as half-man, half-elephant. I swear! He had the head of a man but the ground shook as his elephantine hulk pounded across the lot, his foul odor snaking before him, looking for those weaker to say "I am coming" or possible mates...

Next, another car pulled up and a young woman got out - a very attractive young woman. She was followed by a man who had no discernable skull of any kind. Now, I've seen people with no jaw, whose face ends at the pooch of skin just under their bottom lip, but this guy had no cheekbones, either! Under his (greasy) hair sat brow, nose, and then a sunken chest. Now I might have the most wonderful girlfriend but I still can't help wondering how he'd hooked this hot, young thing. It wasn't his looks and, from the car they drove, I could tell it wasn't his money. Some things will always be a mystery. They walked into the laundromat, used the change machine, and then left. Must be a shortage of quarters in the rest of the country, I thought.

At about this time, I moved my wash from the washer to the dryer. I knew these dryers were notorious for underdrying. So, I put in twice as much money for twice the time and started the machines. As I turned to walk away, one of the screaming, running children ran right into me. (POW!) Then, he fell down. (BIP!) I looked over at the parents. The mother was looking at me, slack-jawed, a blank look on her face. At any moment, I expected to hear her hungrily request, "Braaaiiinnnsss!"

I sat down outside again. The woman from the clown car full of kids was smoking with her one child. Then, she got up and I heard her say, "I'm going in there but you can't. It's against the law." The child followed her until the walked into a bar and then, he waited. And he was still there when I left.

Which were inbreds? Which just looked like them? (We know elephant man was probably a bachelor!)

But I was no longer a bachelor! That is, if you measure such things by being in a committed relationship... my hearted pounded at the thought. I don't look inbred. The only category left were the actual inbred!!! Had to think quickly... If bachelorhood is defined by marriage status, as Dictionary.com does: "an unmarried man", then I AM a bachelor! No worries. I am NOT one of them!

Soon, my clothes were dry.

Wait. Scratch that.

Soon, the dryer was finished. My clothes inside were wet... but warm. I packed them all away as the hell beasts were being given change for the candy machine, knowing that my apartment would soon be festooned with damp clothes in the hopes that they would dry. The elephant man seemed to be altering his density to see how much weight a bench - a bench he filled, by the way - could take. I could hear it creaking as he rocked back and forth.

I hurried out. My other basket was dry and I tossed it into my trunk.

I can't wait to get a place so I can buy a washer & dryer!

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