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Friday, December 28, 2012

He's Probably Described Us to The Police by Now

My first book, I Was Raised to be A Lert, is now available via smashwords.  Why not download it today?

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.”


“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 still 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.


Mich said...

This is hilarious. :)

Never a dull moment when it comes to laundromats. The one nearest my house is always ominously deserted (maybe because I don't think anyone in this rich b*tch county, never mind the town, is without a washer and dryer in their home...).

I left you an award thing on my blog, on the post before the last one...


Pearl said...

Mich, sweet!! Be over in a min...

Stephanie said...

Great story. I LOVE having a washer and dryer. I spent years going to Laundromats, and while they're great for people watching, they're sometimes a little too...ummm..."interesting".

Pearl said...

Stephanie, I agree. Having once had more than a passing relationship with a number of laundromats, I fully appreciate having an on-site washer and dryer!

sage said...

Now we know where you got your cold. I used to love going to the laundry mat, just to met some of those interesting folks, but maybe I'm just being romantic in my old age, for you remind me that they weren't all so interesting.

Jacquelineand.... said...

I, too, have done my laundromat time...which I will happily forego for the rest of eternity.

Feel better soon!

Hilary said...

Laundromats are always full of interesting characters and stories. I don't miss those days one bit but I do wish I had your knack of telling those tales.

Joanne Noragon said...

I think there's a song about a husband who went to the laundromat and never returned. Or was it the MTA?

Daisy said...

I'm so glad the time I spent having to go to the laundromat when I was first married is now long behind me! Sounds like you had a real adventure there. :D Happy weekend to you, Pearl!

Jono said...

The last time I had to use a laundromat was when we got a cold winter without much snow and the septic system started to freeze. At least I could dry the laundry at home. No more buying quarters in bulk!

jenny_o said...

I've done some laundromat time as well, and appreciate the convenience of anytime usage and no bags of quarters to deal with!

Nessa Roo said...

LOOOVE the laundromat for people watching. It's safer than the city bus, you know.

Bodacious Boomer said...

Seems that you're having enough fun for both of us these days. Make sure if you have to go again to take Mary. It doesn't sound like the kinda place you should venture into alone.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

New experiences are always fun.

Suldog said...

"Farflung wife! Dargun dadgum reactionary pixie stix.”

I needed a good laugh, and this did it. Thanks, Pearl.

vanilla said...

I hve to use the laundromat three months every year, and I've never had a visit there that wasn't weird.

Geo. said...

Nothing wrong with pixie stix.

Eva Gallant said...

there's no experience quite so humbling as the laundromat!

Murr Brewster said...

Back before we had a washer, Dave did all the totin' to the laundromat. I told him I'd take turns but he said he sort of enjoyed it. Finally he admitted "there's nothing but women there. And a whole lot of them are comPLETELY out of underwear."

Tempo said...

It's comforting (in a twisted and weird way) to find out that some things are the same no matter where you live. Aussie Laundromats are peopled by weirdos like you and Mary too....

River said...

This reminds me, I must find a laundromat nearby that has a "larger items" machine. My doona needs a wash after me sweating into it all winter, but it won't fit into my machine.

Carol Z said...

Sounds like my trip on the subway last night.

Jen said...

I love your transcriptions of his mumbles. Reminds me of an Isaac Asimov story I read once.

perfumehk said...

Nice blog
Parfum pas cher

perfumehk said...

Nice blog
Parfum pas cher

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

I have never used a laundromat the closes I have come to it was when I was on the crusie and use the ship laundromat to do a load of washing. There is one near where I live and I have walked past it many times but have never been inside it

The Elephant's Child said...

It seems that laundromats are stuck in time warps. I am sure that the gentleman in question was at the last laundromat I used - twenty years and a hemisphere ago.

Pat said...

Was that an English accent I detected?