Laundromat Diaries

This morning I almost wore two socks that didn’t match.

Yes, I know. All of you are gasping and weeping and there is mush gnashing of teeth going on now that you know that.

“KitchenBeard! Please say it isn’t so!!” you’re calling out.

Alas my children, it is.

You see I haven’t had the time or energy to do laundry lately. I came perilously close to just dropping it off, but didn’t want to blow the obscene amount of money to have the mountain flowing out of my laundry basket taken care of. You would think the smell on my sheets would have been enough to drive me to do it, but I haven’t been exactly motivated to change my sheets lately. The handful of sex dates that I’ve had have all been off-premise and only one was a sleep over.

So before I knew it, I was out of underwear and socks and wearing tshirts for the second time and jeans for the umpteemth time. Running out of underwear I can deal with. Going commando isn’t exactly a tragedy in my book. Going with out socks, on the other hand is.

So I shoved as much as I could fit in the laundry bag. Then I realized I hadn’t stripped the bed, so I shoved those in there too until my beg resembled a pod from Planet Pig. Once the bag was ready to go, I looked for detergent and saw that we were low, so I said “fuckit” and opted for the little boxes and headed out.

Tonight there is a blonde couple talking politics. He’s got a slight accent, but hers is distinctly norhtern European. Dutch? Germna? As the machine beginsd to spin my stinky laundry into a state of less stinky, they part with a classic European “oookey Iseeeyoooo” He takes off his glasses and his yes are twinkling and happy. He chats with the laundry attendants while folding a blanket.

As he folds, I wonder if he’s as bad about changing his sheets as I am. Which just leads me to wonder why we, as Americans, are so obsessed with clealiness. Certainly we are not the most clean obsessed people, but there is a general sense of shame implied if you are not able to provide on command a shirt with a sparkling white collar, sheets that are soft as a baby’s bung hole, and towels that smell like the perfume counter at Saks. We are inundated with marketing and advertising that teaches us that our lives are not complete, that are children are being abused, and our marriages will suffer if somehow we aren’t using the right detergent.

Sure, it’s all advertising, and it’s all a form of manipulation to get us to spend our money on one product over an another. It’s nothing new. Advertising as a social manipulator has been around since the 19th century. So why is that when I sit in a laundromat, I am left perplexed over which soap I should be using?

Tonight it wasn’t too bad. The oxygen infused detergent was sold out after the latino guy in front of me got the last one, all the while telling someone on his cell phone that his sex last night was amazing. Apparently he had two orgasms, which I am assuming is a rarity for him. After I got my soap, I watch him loading up a machine and as he stretches, I can see just a wisp of a happy trail on his stomach.

I watch him put in the soap into his machines. IHe’s breifly distracted by someone better looking who comes in and talks to him breifly. They walk out together and the latino guy gives me a smile as he goes.

When I get up to take my clohtes out of the washer and put them into the drier, a red headed woman is giving the man she is with, a lesson which soap to use where. He apparently is just learning the concept of bleach. His body posture reflects his student position, and she speaks louder than she really needs to. Does she know all this because she was taught or because she watches day time television.

I remember when I first learned of the original The Stepford Wives, how ammused I was that they were turning the women into robots who would act like the women on tv ads would. I’ve often wondered what a gay Stepford lover would be. But then I realzie that on some level, we have that already. They just use environmentally friendly soaps to wash their dolce and gabanna.

But it occurs to me that kind of thinking is flawed in its hypothesis. I know many bears who have their closets organized by color, season, and fabric. Of course I know just as many gay men who are just as much of a slob as I am, if not worse. The thing about those guys though, is that unless you set foot in their houses, you’d never know it.

And isn’t that the point of getting us to use special soaps and softeners and frangrances? So that on the surface, to the people around us, we are somehow better? That we are somehow more worth of the attention of strangers and friends? Who are we trying to fool though? I’m currently sitting here in a pair of jeans, a tshirt and a fleece pukll over, all carefully selected because they were still not rank enough to warrant a wash. Yet they were still carefulyl selected (ok, not THAT carefully) for their comfort as well as for how I look in them. Yes, I’m that shallow. So much of what we do is based on impressing others on some level that I wonder how much we do with out even realizing it. Whether or not I make my underwear and socks smell like posies is not going to make a better lover, a nicer friend, or more humane bipedal sentient creature. What it will do, I’m not entirely sure.

A woman with a KD Lang haircut and a motorcycle helmet comes in and drops off two bags of laundry. I can’t really hear what she says as she talks to the attendants, but it’s friendly, cordial, and most definatley, not Stepfordish.

Outside, the palm trees on Market blow in the August wind. The latino guy and his friend are back, talking quietly and probably flirting a little. They keep watching each other as they do their laundry. Keeping to themselves, their choice in soap is far from their minds. Their choice in each other, is the matter at hand….

…as it should be.

A freind of mine comes in and picks up his laundry. We chat briefly, a quick laugh and then its back to the drier for me. As I pull out my stuff, I realize someone had left a drier sheet in there. Great. Now my clothes smell like pansies.