Laundromat Diaries

A new Laundromat.

I haven’t done my own laundry since October. Now, facing losing my job, and an unexpected trip east, I find I have to do it myself again.

This place is smaller, more your standard Laundromat. A few machines, a few driers, lots of buzzing fluorescent lights over head on the stucco’d ceiling. It’s clean though, even if three of the washers do not seem to work and one of the driers is also labeled with an “out of order” sticker that looks like it’s been there a while.

I notice that there’s a room in the back where the people who operate this place do their thing. They talk to each other in high-pitched voices in a language I don’t understand, away from my view and my curiosity.

There are two women here. One is studying something and she occasionally looks up and studies what I’m doing as I’m load the three machines up with white, darks, colors and my sense of cleanliness.

Once I get the machines going I find a spot to sit down near the door. There’s not really any view to the outside except for a small window to my right. There’s no people watching from here. I could go sit outside, but it’s a little darker out there and it’s going to be cold out tonight.

I watch my clothes roll around and watch as the other woman fills the driers up. I’m curious if I will have a drier when it’s my turn.

A door I hadn’t noticed open up and a woman comes out. She’s covered from head to foot in black fabric and she looks like she stepped out of the evening news. Iranian? Iraqi? Or just Muslim? A little girl, whose features are more clearly African appears behind her dragging bags of folded laundry. The fabric covering her head is edged with a delicate lace and she wears jeans and Addidas sneakers underneath the rest of her more traditional clothes. I don’t know the name of the dress like piece she’s wearing, but it’s turquoise colored with beautiful pink embroidery on it.

Outside a car horn beeps and she leaps up and begins to hand the bags out to some one I can’t see, telling him they’re heavy. He comes in a minute later. Tall, also covered in black except for the coffee colored corduroys and work boots. He looks me in the eye and says hello and I smile and nod at him. In a flash, all three of them are gone.

Driers begin to beep and the woman who had been filling them up comes and begins to selectively remove items from them. She tosses another quarter in one and condenses her stuff thankfully.

A man I recognize from somewhere comes in and walks up to one of the driers and shoves it’s contents into a leather bag. He walks out, giving the two women unloading the driers a nervous look. One begins folding, tentatively, after placing her purse to one side. The other one continues pumping quarters into machines.

Another woman comes in. Blonde, stingy hair and some heft to her hips. She buys soap and then walks in front of the top loading machines and then just stands there, scratching her head.

I look up and notice that the Quarter Pumping woman has Aborigine features. She looks nervous about whether or not her clothes are secure.

Blonde and stringy woman begins unloading clothes and tossing them into driers as the other woman begins finally freeing up the others. Just in time, as my whites are done.

I manage to get three washing machines worth of clothes into two driers, being careful of course to read the directions on the machine and check for small children and pets before loading and starting this device. I set the first machine for 47 minutes. The second machine’s time monitor seems to be broken, and I loose count how many quarters I’ve pumped into to it, so I put another one in, just to be sure.

I plop back down on the bench, turn on my iPod and let Carol King tell me how much of Natural Woman she is. The women here keep folding and I get to see aspects of their lives. Their choice in towels and colors and sheets and their condition tells me more about them than if I had walked up to them and asked them. As they fold their belongings and stuff them into bags or a rolling cart, they’re maintaining something about themselves. Their coral colored towels that don’t quite match their lime green sheets show the efforts of a student making those first adult choices. Or maybe Mom just wanted to get rid of the old linens and passed them onto her daughter when she left home. Does she miss her mother?

Or better yet, do my towels (which are barely being held together by a force of nature yet to be discovered by science) expose me as someone who misses his mother?

The Aborigine woman pushes her cart of clothes out the door, peering at me out of the corner of her eye as she goes. The other woman is matching socks and dropping them into a Leprechaun green mesh bag and the rest onto a large backpack. I notice her bottle of detergent, with its green label and the word ORAGNIC splayed across it. I catch sight of a man’s jockey shorts. Boyfriend? Husband? Roommate? Or maybe she’s just got weird tastes in under garments. Doesn’t matter. Her towels are in better condition than mine. She finishes packing up her possessions, does a last scan around the room, before she leaves me alone in the laundromat.

I catch a whiff of a cigarette from outside and for a minute wish I still smoked. Barry Manilow comes on the iPod and somehow makes the fluorescent lights seem a little more painfully bright. The song comes to an end and in the lull between the next one the sound of the driers creeps in. Johnny Cash comes on. I look around the room, feeling more alone than I need to.

I think briefly about what is going to happen in NY this weekend and decide I can’t deal with that now. I’ll just have to deal with it then.

A few minutes later a different woman comes in and I begin to wonder why so many women come here. She does the washer drier swap, pulling quarters from a Ziploc bag. Her quarters seem to require a second push after inserting. For some reason this just leads me into no clear thoughts as I stare off into space watching the clothes in the drier reflected in the window.

This time a man comes in, clothes bag in one hand, motorcycle helmet in the other. He sorts his clothes into different machines. He wears boxers apparently. As he bends over the machines, he keeps pushing his glasses up on his face. He finishes sorting, eventually throwing the laundry bag in with his whites, dropping his quarters in. He checks his pockets, as if looking for something and then leaves.

As, he does, another woman walks in, bumps into him and they share an embarrassed laugh before going their separate ways. She gets quarters from the machine, the sounds of the falling coins breaking through the Simply Red remix on my iPod.

Motorcycle helmet guy comes back and heads to the change machine. I notice he’s limping. He drops one more quarter in the machine he had left a few minutes ago and then leaves again.

I know my roommate does his laundry here. He shuttles back and forth between loads. Something in me just isn’t comfortable leaving my clothes unattended like that. If it means sitting her alone, I suppose I can deal with that. Yet I wonder if I could run down to the burger place and grab dinner. I don’t see any signs that say no food. Just lots that say “Please do not sit on top of the washers”. I wonder how many women have been caught sitting on them during the spin cycle.

Blonde and stringy woman comes back with a man. As the walk past me, I catch a whiff of alcholol on them. I notice their skin is flushed. They remove the clothes from the drier and stuff them back in their bags with out folding them.

I get up and check my driers. The one timer I can read says twelve minutes. I can wait. Besides, tomorrow, I’ve got a long trip. Waiting a few minutes for my laundry is small compared to what I’ve got ahead of me this weekend.

A man sticks his head in the door and asks me what time its. I tell him and realize that in 24 hours I’ll be circling over New York, coming in for a landing, returning sooner than I expected, for reasons I never considered. I may not be mentally prepared, but t least I’ll have clean clothes when I get there.

Bunny

Well Peter cotton tail is currently simmering away oin the stove.

I cut off the legs and then removed the tenderloins. I snapped the spine/saddle and pulled off the skin. Heated some oil in a pan and arranged the peices in the oil and seared on both sides, including the saddle.

Once I had some nice color on them, I removed them and then threw some mirepoix in the pan. I let that all soften a little before adding 1/2 can of tomato paste. Mixed all that together and then poured in 1.2 bottle of reisling and 3 cups of chicken stock. I let that boil for 5 minutes before returning all of the various bunny peices to the pan. Brought it back to a simmer and will leave it there until the sauce has reduced by at least half, whoch will give the rabbit enough time to cook through.

While that is happening, I’m going to use the other half of the bottle of resiling and make a rissoto. Since I don’t have any romano or parmesan, I’ll be using chevre.

I’ve got some dried mushrooms I’ve been wanting to use up so I refreshed those in some left over sauvignin blanc and chicken stock. I’ll dice those up.

Once the bunny is cooked, I’ll let it cool slightly and pick the meat off the bones and return it to the pan sauce with the mushrooms for reheating before being served on top of the rissoto.

Lady Bunny ain’t got nuthin on me……