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Saturday, August 11, 2012

He’s Probably Described Us to the Police by Now


I went to a brewery opening last night, and I’m working today at Nye’s Pollanaise, home of the world’s oldest servers and the best dang prime rib you’ve ever had.  Talk amongst yourselves and enjoy this re-post from December of 2010.  I’ll just be laying over here in the dark, quietly, until my shift starts…


I went to the Laundromat last Monday with Mary.

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.”

“That reminds me – what are you doing for New Year’s?”

“Don’t try to butter me up. 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 strip mall built in the 60s, it‘s the only business open.

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.

27 comments:

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Pearl, it's not you. Laundromats are just plain weird. Every one of them. That's why clotheslines , curtain shower rods and home washing machines were invented, didn't you know that? ":)) You get to save quarters too...

joeh said...

Oh they are creepy, especially late at night. Wasn't bad when I was in college, but years later I went when my machine was broken...ewww...much like you described so well.

Thanks for the memory.

cranky

Paula Wooters said...

I shudder whenever I hear the word "laundromat". Glad you made it out alive... and without a police record.

vanilla said...

yep, laudromats are weird; and also the folk who use them. I know, because I've used them.

R. Jacob said...

I think I am in love with Mary...

sage said...

Can I put in an order for some of the best dang prime rib around while I try not to relieve any of my laundry mat experiences... In my pre-washer days, when I was young and single and looking for the woman of my dreams, I'd often go do laundry with the thought that I'd meet someone beautiful and funny and the only time that happened, she talked about becoming a nun (I wondered if that was a quick decision based on who she was sharing the folding table with)... actually, I should write about my laundry experiences

Eva Gallant said...

I do not miss my laundramat days!

jenny_o said...

Perhaps he was smoking those "reactionary pixie sticks" :)

You have captured the laundromat experience so well. I must try the buddy system next time I am forced into one. Although I have to admit, for every weirdo there is also a motherly but street-wise lady there as well.

TexWisGirl said...

that was well worth repeating. :)

That gentleman's lady said...

You troublemaker, you! Stealin copper!

Funny though. I've never been to a laundromat. Maybe I am missing out on a strange and novel way of life.

Buttons said...

And that is why I try not to go to the laundromat. That is truly where weird lingers along with the dirty unmentionables. B

middle child said...

We go to the laundry mat to wash sleeping bags and pillows. We went to our new one called...Laundry King. It is huge, has plenty of washers and dryers. It's clean. Kids playroom. Tv's. Snack room with tables. Nice place. I almost expect a waiter to come with a white towel draped over his forearm, preparing to take out order. If it weren't for the gazilion quarters,...I might go there more ofter.

Diane said...

Ah. The infamous laundromat. Stage where anything can (and does) happen. Unbiased displayer of: the young father doing laundry for the first time, not realizing that poopy diapers should probably be rinsed first. The careless young person (Male? Female?) with the cigarette dangling perilously from their lip, who stuffs everything - jeans, delicates, whites into one machine (STUFFS). The regulars sitting back with a greasy pack of cards and preparing to while away the time. Laundormat. The writer's best friend.

Stephen Hayes said...

The last time i was in a laundromat was in college, forty years ago. Don't miss 'em.

Belle said...

I used to hate going to the laundromat. What a nightmare!

Powdered Toast Man said...

You should of taken the quarters out and put dollars in place to confuse him.

Mom of A and a said...

It must have been the pants which branded you as a thief!!

Daisy said...

Pearl, I watched this video/blog today and couldn't help but think of you and your co-waitresses/waiters. May all your customers be so!

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/these-nuns-are-real-thing

Susan in the Boonies said...

The world is full of colorful characters, but the laundromat does seem to get more than its fair share.

Amber Star said...

I really do not miss going to the laundromat at all. It has been ages since I've had to go and well, let's say I'm good in the weird department. There are enough wierd folks in my family. Each year the Christmas party pretty much takes care of our need to visit for the year.

I've been away for a while and am glad to read you today. Funny as ever, I see even though it is a rerun. Wonder how I missed this one.

Amber Star said...

Pearl,
I read/watched that blog about the nuns above. At first I thought it was about the nuns that were in our newspaper this morning who were described as "reactionary" and they "won't back down" nuns. My nuns seem pretty rowdy compared to those nuns who were thanking all, and I mean all, those who helped make the entire program happen. Every last person who helped.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! I just saw the police report:

"Blechridin'! Boosh cupla hochhhhooch posh tarts! Fark, I dun, fark! Fen Sweden but not Joplin. Red, officer! Red'n'head! Buggrit! Haitch another one was a loopy! Bloody earrings, I mean hochhhhochh oo does that, right? Sweden! Perky left boob, blonde and all over. Stole it, then dun! And I counts it! Far too many fer cricket. Fark! Back to flinders!"

Police are interviewing anyone with a perky left boob.

Roth x

Juli said...

And this is why I drop my bed spread off for $15 and pick it up three days later.

Although... could make for very good blog fodder...

esbboston said...

I thought I should let you know, just in case yoi are ever looking for me in a crowd of people, I l00k eXactly like someone who doesn't l00k like Sammy Hagar at aLL. Sadly, I l00k just like my brothers. I may possibly do a statistical study of which rock-n-roLL artist that I l00k like. My main primary hope is that it is at least a gender match of male.

River said...

I prefer not to put my clothes where thousands of others already have had theirs, I'll travel miles to one of my kids homes and use their machines if I ever need to. Thankfully my own 16 year old machine is still going strong, no signs of breaking down.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

That's not weird.

If small, wiry, dirty msn had talked politely of Mice and Men, of Chickenpox and Lobsters,
of Sealing Wax and SuperBras, tehn that would have been weird.

Actually what would have been really weird would have been small, wiry, dirty man put himself in a washer and switched it on with the power of the missing quarters from the bag.

Come on, admit it, you took three, didn't you?

Pat said...

Years ago my friend's husband took a load to the laundromat including my friend's dressing gown and the poor man had to sit and watch whilst his wife's Dutch cap clamped on to the window - in full view for the entire cycle.
That was the last time he offered to do the laundry.