Monday, July 2, 2012

An Upside to Dirty Laundry

The first half-dozen times I glanced through the windows of a below-street-level building in my neighborhood, I thought it was a deli-cafeteria and wondered how long it might take them to fix me an iced coffee.

When I started to consistently see people wheeling bundles of blankets and clothing on their ways in and out, it hit me - I was face to face with my new and improved laundromat, where you can find a loving family of four having Sunday dinner at a lopsided table as they wait for their clothes to dry; or chance upon a soft-spoken, furtive dialogue that includes: “Yeah I know, but man, why do you have a naked picture of your cousin on your phone?”

I wasn’t happy about needing to do an enormous, long-overdue load of laundry this past weekend, or having to push my huge cart across busy streets in the sticky 93-degree heat. My mood dramatically lifted within minutes of my sweaty, pink-faced arrival at the laundromat that rarely disappoints. Two families with early-elementary-school-age children surrounded me. One featured two very pretty little girls. The other family’s pair of boys wildly ran around the premises in their underpants and sleeveless undershirts, and I was the only one who was absolutely elated by the sight of it all.

I sat down to read Anna Quindlen’s new book at a table in the back of the room. The two girls and their mom sat across from me, with some snacks.

The elder underpants boy really had the hots for the younger girl. I caught him checking her out during one of his lawless laps around the washing machines. Once the parents cleared out of the seating area, and it was just us kids, the mack was on. Or the attempted mack, as – surprise! – tighty whitie has no game.

He bounced over to her, much of his handsome face hidden behind those oversized geek-chic glasses that are all the rage with the hipsters, and asked how old she was. (As socially unsophisticated as it may be, I applaud the idea of establishing the age difference straight from the get-go. There’s no joy in suddenly learning that you’re 11 years older than the guy you’re on a third date with.)  He followed up with an interrogation about the snacks.

Underpants: You’re eating lunch now? [It was sometime between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m.]

Sweet Little Girl: No.

Underpants: So that’s your dinner?

Sweet Little Girl: No.

Underpants: It’s your supper?

Sweet Little Girl: What’s supper?

He told her that supper was a combination of lunch and dessert. That’s when she got noticeably weirded out.

Underpants: Why are you eating at a time when you’re not supposed to be eating?

Sweet Little Girl: Why aren’t you wearing clothes?

The parents returned, the kids clammed up, the underpants boys segued into a good-natured wrestling match on an elevated platform, and not having laundry facilities in my own building presented itself as more of a privilege than a problem.   


  1. I've read this twice, and am still not sure if you're being sarcastic about enjoying all that. Either way, it's funny!

  2. After a six-day hiatus from online activity caused by an equipment breakdown at Verizon, I am back online to catch up on two or three Roving Retorter posts. I have missed them!

    Loved your description of the children at the laundromat. You have a sharp ear for conversation. A playwright in the making? I could just see this little scene as part of a play. Really quite charming.

  3. Do we have a modern day female Norman Rockwell on the works...enjoyed the description and conversation very much. Are you an illustrator? It would have been perfect!