Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Laundry Day

I am down to one clean pair of underwear.


The laundry machines await me in the basement. As you might guess from the first sentence, I have no particular love for them. They are an infinity better than going to the laundromat though.

I remember the olden days when I was living in a fourplex in North Carolina. I had no car, just a bike, and I was chronically broke. But I will not now, nor would I then, recycle a pair of underpants. Once I take them off, they're off for good and into the laundry hamper. None of this turning them inside out and wearing them again. (I won't name names, but you know who you are and your ears are turning bright red as you read this.) Same with socks or panty hose -- one wearing, that's all, period, paragraph, end of story.

Which means my laundry frequency is dictated by the number of undies I currently own. (You have your parameters, I have mine.)

I don't have to worry about the Engineer. He has more underwear, socks and shirts than Imelda Marcos had shoes. He could go for a month and not run short. I only have about two weeks worth, so tomorrow it's down to the basement for me.

When I was broke and living in the fourplex, I used to load my laundry into a plastic laundry basket and ride to the laundromat with it balanced on my handlebars. The basket I used had a convenient hole right in the middle of the bottom that fit over the big nut at the top of the handlebars and helped hold it steady.

No matter where I've lived, if I've had to use the laundromat, a particular family has always followed me there. The family consists of Mom, Dad and three kids.

Dad is majorly P.O.'ed that he has to come to the laundromat. He'd rather be watching football and drinking beer, but since they only have one car, he has to chauffeur (crap!) So he slouches in one of those chairs fixed to a rail on the wall. If there's a TV, he turns it to a sports channel and watches, if not, he stares into space growling occasionally.

Mom meanwhile collects all of the carts and sorts her laundry and moves it from washer to extractor to dryer -- why are there NEVER enough dryers at the laundromat? -- ignoring her three kids as she works.

The three kids, an argument for birth control if there ever was one, are in brat heaven. The littlest is about 18 months old and in one of those baby bumper car affairs. You've seen them, the baby sits in a sling seat in the middle of a round ring that's supported by an aluminum framework. It has casters on the bottom so that the baby has full and instant mobility in any direction by running her feet like she was in Fred Flintstone's car. She is not, however, required to use her feet because her big brother and sister (ages 9 and 7) grab on to the back of her baby cart ring and use it as a semi-guided missile. They run at top speed, whooping and hollering, crashing their little sister into anything they can get at (especially the backsides of innocent laundry doers.) Every time they smash into something, the baby shrieks. Loudly. With great glee.

This merriment continues unabated while Mom tries to get the laundry done, occasionally calling to the children to behave themselves. Dad goes outdoors to have a smoke. Then the big sibs shout, "Tunnel!" and try to run the baby under a folding table. Which might have worked had baby sister grasped the concept of ducking...

I won't even try to describe the ensuing carnage. My ears ring from post traumatic shock just thinking about it. It was at that point that I would stuff my clean, but sopping wet, laundry back into my plastic basket and ride for home like all the demons of hell were after me. The water would leak through the hole in the bottom of the basket, dribbling on to the spinning tire and spraying everywhere. But it was clean water and it was silent. When I got home, I would hang my laundry on the line out back and hope it didn't rain before my towels were dry. But even wet towels were better than staying at the laundromat long enough to use the dryer.

I guess I'll go downstairs and throw in a load. Somehow it doesn't seem nearly as onerous now as it did a few minutes ago.

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