Sunday, September 5, 2010
Adventures in the spin cycle
It had been too long since I ventured to the land of the never ending quarter depository. I think each machine should be equipped with a pull handle and spinning cherries, 7's, bars, and other assorted fruit graphics. Often, the risk you take when putting your coins in the washers and dryers isn't too far off from flushing your earnings into the poker slots at Empress Casino. Worry that the dryer you select may be the one that melts anything not made of cotton even if 'cool' is pressed on the temperature buttons. You're never sure what was washed previously when you slip the delicates into the wash basin. For all you know the car detail business next door washed their carnuba wax coated buffer pads in that machine.
What's even more risky about doing business at the launderette isn't so much the equipment but the people encountered. If you've been reading this blog for a couple of years you might remember Asshat Running Man. It went from flattery to hmmm to full blown asshattery in a speck of time. While some dating advice booklets might suggest the grocery store frozen section or the bookstore (not the self help section) is a great place to find a mate, the laundromat certainly is not.
I have learned quickly that relations of even a friendly form aren't best found in the multi-unit laundorama. In fact, I don't even enjoy making eye contact with the strangers with whom I am forced to share air. It isn't that I feel superior, but I've learned that the coin laundry spot isn't conducive to sharing ideas and theory. When I overhear the use of phrases like, "those people" whispered and attached with a presumed knowing glare -- I wish that I'd brought my iPod earbuds.
In spite of my curt replies if I am addressed, there are patrons who are bound and determined to converse with me. Once in awhile the woman who maintains the aesthetics of the 24-hour establishment comes in and I am happy to have a friendly exchange with her. She's pleasant.
Yesterday I woke early and had already packed the trunk the night before with nearly two weeks of dirty laundry. Knowing well that it would take me at least two hours to complete the wash and dry, I set out before the rest of the world rushed to get the chore out of the way for the long holiday weekend. Or so I thought. Just as I began loading the washers with my dirty duds, a truck backed up and stopped. "ARGH!" I literally said that out loud. One of my baskets sat atop a washer opposite of where I stood. Unfortunately my lack of zeal for doing the wash mid-week led to the requirement of utilizing several washers. Another reason for getting in early. The man, who I would find out soon was 65, asked if I needed all the top loaders on that side. He asked only because he was willing to use a front loader if necessary. I like the top loaders over the big front loading machines because the spin cycle rids the clothes of more moisture thereby reducing drying time. Seriously, there's a science to my methods. I informed him that only 2 of the 6 were needed.
"Crap!" I thought to myself. Initial contact has been made and now he's going to talk my ear off. I was spot on with my assumption. Over the racket of agitating, water sloshing, clanking of the spin tub, he babbled at me. I, unable to really hear him, nodded politely and smiled. Over all the clatter I heard him ask if I was a college student. I laughed and shook my head no. This led to him stating that I looked like a college girl. Then, inquiring about the kind of work that I do, I replied with a signal to my glasses, "I make glasses." Again, with the din of the machines, I couldn't understand what he was prattling on and on about but I presumed it was his own vision needs. It happens whenever people find out what I do.
At some point the sweet attendant came in to do her morning duties. Always nice, she said hello to both the man and myself. RELIEF! He followed her around with his coffee cup in hand. Chatty Chucky was out of my hair ... NOT!
In the course of 2 hours I found out that he was married, but his wife was killed in a car crash 20 years ago in Chicago. Father of three and grandpa of two. He also had a 'very foxy' 32 year old girlfriend. I chuckled at his use of the term 'foxy'. Additionally, he insisted that men everywhere looked at him like he was the luckiest man alive. The attendant was included in the conversation that, in spite of our efforts to change the subject matter, he always brought it back to younger women and older men dating. Then the inquiries about my own dating life came around.. Resistance to ignoring the conversation was futile. At one point I found myself explaining what a "cougar" was and how I resented being flung into that category based solely on my age and status of being single. Efforts to derail the subject matter were pointless. The attendant and I started talking about kids, schooling, and how much Kankakee is different from when (her kids) and I were growing up. Pervy Paul just wanted to ramble on about dating younger women and how he couldn't believe how young girls' looks are so deceiving. He elaborated by telling us how he was talking to a young woman he assumed was at least 20. "Nothing but talk, mind you," he'd insist. But he found out that she was merely 16 and he was flabbergasted. At one point he went to the bathroom where it was obvious he was throwing up. The sound echoed through the facility. The attendant and I exchanged a wide-eyed expression. He'd emerge without having missed a beat of his thought.
Eventually he'd get around to asking me what my boyfriend did for a living. Remarking around the fortress of clothing that I'd hung up on the laundry rack, "there is no boyfriend." This is where he took his opportunity to inform me that I should have no problem finding a man since I was such a looker -- foxy, even.
That is the point where I felt like convening to the loo to blow chunks but feared I might return to him rifling through my garments. Ewwwww