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Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm Gonna Want Input on the Wanted Posters

A re-post, as I recover from everything I did yesterday.

I went to the Laundromat with Mary Monday.

It had been a number of years since I’d had to use one, so she felt the need to prepare me.

Mary cast a critical eye at my clothing. “You may be overdressed.”

“Overdressed?”

“Well, for one thing, you’re wearing pants.”

“I wear pants a lot.”

“Yeah,” she says. “But there aren’t any stains on them. You appear to be putting on airs.”

I start to laugh.

“I’m serious! We need to maybe find you something with an elastic waistband and a cigarette burn in the crotch.”

“Hey, that reminds me," I say. "What are you doing for New Year’s?”

“Don’t try to butter me up," she laughs. "And you’re not wearing jewelry, are you??”

“Oh, come on,” I said. “I think you’re exaggerating.”

“Maybe,” she said. “But maybe not.”

A trip to the Laundromat begins with a single step, followed by hundreds of other steps. Seven loads of clothes were piled into the back of my car, detergent, hangers. Accommodations were made to ensure the availability of copious amounts of quarters.

“I just feel like I should warn you. This place is always weird.”

I start the car, put on my seatbelt, insist that Mary put hers on as well. “What kind of weird?”

“Well, a couple times ago I ran into Vince Neil.”

“Vince Neil, singer-for-Motley-Crue Vince Neil?”

“Yup. Even went up to him and told him that he looked just like Vince Neil. You know what he said? He said “Well at least I don’t look like that bastard Sammy Hagar. I hate that SOB.”

The drive to the Laundromat took just minutes. Located in a mostly-abandoned strip mall built in the 60s, it‘s the only place still doing business.

I get out of the car and walk around to let Mary out of the passenger side. My car, long known for its peculiarities, its front end held together with shoe laces and shims, no longer opens from the inside on the passenger side. Mary sits patiently while I come around and let her out. “Thank you so much,” she murmurs.

We unload the car, we get inside. We sort lights, darks, and Jon’s ridiculously greasy work duds. Mary has identified her favorite washers (“the proven machines”) and we are nearing the end of our stay at the Laundromat when He comes in.

But it’s not Vince Neil.

He is small, wiry, dirty. His matted hair juts out from under a dark blue stocking cap. There are crumbs in his beard. “Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuccccccccccccchhhhhhh.” He has cleared his throat, as he will continue to do. Our eyes meet. They are bright blue. He bares his teeth at me. “Aaaauccgheghhhh. Garbin flapping rightwing carport.”

He sets his hamper down, pulls out bedding, stuffs it into a machine. “Aaaucccghegh.” He pulls a bank bag from the bottom of his hamper. He mumbles rapidly. Coins clink audibly against each other as he finds the proper number of quarters, pumps 12 of them into the high-capacity washer.

Mary walks past me. “I had nothing to do with this,” she hisses.

The throat-clearing/gargling sounds have taken on a querulous tone. His head and shoulders disappear as he digs through the hamper.

“Aaagheccccccchh. Farflung wife! Dargun dadgum reactionary pixie stix.” The washer with his bedding in it is agitating as he leaves.

I look at Mary.

“He lives over there,” she is pointing at the large house kitty-corner from the Laundromat. “I think it’s a boarding house.”

“He left his change,” I say. I pick up the bag. There’s probably 40 quarters in it.

“We’ll run it over to him if he doesn’t come back by the time we leave,” Mary says.

Twenty minutes later, he is back. He is holding another blanket and he is angry.

Mary looks at me and I nod. “Are you missing your quarters?” Mary asks him. “Do you know you left your quarters here?”

“Aaaghcheggggggh! Farbin flippen crock bottom! Grackle copper! Stealin! Stealin!”

“No,” I say. “We didn’t steal them. You left them here.”

“Aagheeeech! Robbed! Obbin freabin robbed!”

“No,” Mary says. “Really. We wouldn’t take your money! It’s all still here, see?”

Nothing we could say was good enough to make him believe we had not tried to steal from him, despite the fact that his bag of quarters was right where he left it.

We left ten minutes later, the backseat of my car loaded with freshly laundered, freshly folded clothing.

He watched us as we drove away.

The Laundromat: Here we thought it might be a weird experience for us.

Turns out that it was weird for everyone.

22 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

the laundromat..haven of last resort...where laundry tubs laden with the crust of previous loads awaits you. Where you are likely to come away with clothes dirtier than when you started. Where I have personally seen derelict old men pee in the tub...what?...all the water goes to the same place anyway lady.

That Janie Girl said...

Girl. You run into the craziest stuff! Love it

Oilfield Trash said...

You have some of the interesting adventures of any 4 people I know.

Pearl said...

Delores, the laundromat is a crockpot of humanity. :-)

Janie, I think it's related to not having much money. :-) The bus, the laundromat, the Wendy's in Columbia Heights... Seems the poorer the people around you, the more apt they are to let their freak flag fly.

OT, see above. :-)

powdergirl said...

I only use the laundromat for king sized quilts. Nothing weird ever happens to me there. So I guess maybe I put the weird in someone else's day?
Food for thought...

Pearl said...

powdergirl, everybody is somebody's weirdo. :-)

jenny_o said...

I had occasion to use the laundromat recently - first time in years - and it wasn't nearly this interesting. The other folks there were helpful, even. This is why I can't have a blog - nothing interesting happens to me. And also I can't write. Small but relevant detail :)

Poor guy. It's sad to see the plight of some people, and know there are many more out there who we don't see.

Eva Gallant said...

I love your descriptions of people and events!

Gigi said...

Oh wow - I haven't been to a laundromat in eons! The last one I can remember was in an apartment complex I lived in when I was a wee one. Having the imagination that I do I was convinced I would be murdered in it. I made sure the next apartment I had came with a washer and dryer.

Leenie said...

Even Vince Neil has to have clean clothes. Even Mr. Garbin seems recognize the occasional need for cleanliness.

Hope your feet and your head recover soon. Get those black pants washed for the next big event but stay away from Mr. Garbin's quarters.

Your posts are as good or better the second time!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Mary and Pearl: freabin robbin' the crackheads at the laundr-o-mat. Crazy beaches.
;)

Casey Freeland said...

I think a great short-story or good novel could almost always begin in a laundromat. Any genre. Mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, romance, vamp lit, chick lit, porn... anything. That makes it a particularly magical place. Glad you gave the wizard his quarters back. That could have been bad.

Cheers,

Casey

Belle said...

The laundry mat is similar to riding the bus. A lot of weird people.

ThreeOldKeys said...

Reactionary pixie stix. They were one of those bubblegum bands from the 70s, right? Like the Archies and 1910 Fruitgum Company.

The Elephant's Child said...

And one of the stranger persons I meet regularly on the bus works in a laundromat. Says it all really.

HermanTurnip said...

I always feel overdressed whenever Karin and I make our biannual pilgrimage to the laundry mat to wash our huge bed covering. Whenever I'm there I think to myself that if I wear capris pants, one shoe, and reek of sausage that I'd blend in a bit more successfully.

Man, I'd hate to see what the laundromat on the *bad* side of town looks like...

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl, I only brave the launderette when I have a duvet to wash. And - couriously - your raging mumbler is always at my place too. I wonder if he gets air miles? Indigo

Beach Bum said...

The Laundromat: Here we thought it might be a weird experience for us.

Back when I was in the army and single the laundromat was suppose to be this great place to meet women. While I had access to washing machines and dryers on the army base there were times I just wanted to get away from the usual bunch of knuckle dragging guys I worked with.

Long story short, the laundromats I went to in Colorado Springs, Colorado were the weirdest places in the world. Just about everyone acted like space aliens with one guy convinced the ghost of his dead mother haunted his underwear.

the walking man said...

So inquiring minds want to know: Was that Sammy Hagar?

ScottJ said...

The last time I was at a laundromat (White Bear Lake, MN), there was a woman wearing a minidress that was so short you could see EVERYTHING, and you didn't even have to try hard. (She was sexy, too, well worth looking at.) Apparently, she and her husband/significant other were playing some sort of sex game, and me and this other guy were lucky enough to be in on it. One odd thing is, they had a toddler 2 or 3 or so running around the place also. After they left, me and this other guy talked about it a bit, he said before I got there, he was actually taking pictures of her and she even knew what he was doing and didn't care. I could have kicked myself later, wishing I had given him my email and asked for copies.

Pat said...

But that's not like the ad where this gorgeous man comes in and takes his trousers off.
Think what you missed.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

How does tht least attracive woman in the laundrymat strip down to her unmentionalble just to finish a load. I stare because I am fascinated but no boner was produced.