Jun 18, 2005

mildew, spiders and one light bulb

Oh joy!

What seemed like just five minutes ago (but was actually an hour and forty-five minutes ago) the laundry room in my building was piled with a million bags and baskets of laundry. Other people's laundry that either needed to be washed or dried. It was hard to determine what exactly was going on with those bags and baskets (some baskets trying desperately to be anything other than mere laundry baskets, like the bushel-of-apples style basket) or what it meant in terms of time. And I didn't want to get too close to try to determine the wait time for the machines. I hate other people's laundry.

At times like these I try to recall how I once dreamed of living in a building with laundry facilities. That I'm lucky that I no longer need to go to a laundry mat. That this (basement with mildew and spiders and one light bulb) is an unprecedented luxury.

Sometimes I forget.

Still, I get frustrated with the situation of the laundry room. I'm sure that everyone in the building does. Everyone except Mary. I think Mary likes the laundry room. Mary, who once (when I was late in getting my laundry out of the dryer) was found by me to be folding my laundry. I'll never forget it. How I instantly hated her for folding my laundry. I remember initially saying sorry (for making her wait for a dryer), but then (as I saw what was really going on) my eyes and actions (and maybe even my posture) saying something to the effect of:

What on EARTH do you think you are doing?!

Actually, I might have said this part out loud. And there might have been yelling. I don't recall. I was confused by the incidence of so many negative emotions hitting me all at once. No doubt Mary saw herself as supremely neighborly in folding my laundry. I, on the other hand, saw what she was doing as grossly intrusive. If not sickeningly martyr-like. And I quickly determined her to be passive-aggressive (such a hostile transgression masked rather uncleverly as helpfulness) and just horribly, horribly inappropriate.

No. You do not fold your neighbor's laundry. Maybe at the turn of the last century. Maybe. But even those women (in long white smocks with black button up boots) that I am imagining (leaving calling cards in scented envelopes just to say hello) knew each other. Mary and I don't know each other. We just live in the same building. The fact that I know her name is remarkable. And Mary's name might be Kathy. I don't know. And she doesn't know my name, either. It's that minimal respectful distance in such close quarters (where personal space is at a premium) that everyone (except Mary) is trying to maintain. It's the way we avert our eyes on the train, though we are packed as sardines. Yes. I hated Mary for folding my laundry. It would have only been worse if she had opened my mail and read it to me.

At that point, I took the clothes from her (and I detected the faintest of resistance on her part; she now felt some ownership of my laundry, I think, and I could tell that for an instant she still thought that all of this was was ok, and that she expected a compliment) and put them (once again) into the nearest washing machine. I put the quarters (thank God I still had quarters) into the slot, and pointedly turned the temperature gauge all the way up to HOT! (passive-aggressive/ fight fire with fire). I did this fast. Without apology. With a cigarette dangling from my mouth and my eyes fixed on her the entire time. And she returned the look. Unwaveringly. Holding on for dear life to her position of righteousness. It became a sort of standoff. And though she was wrong, very wrong, and she knew that she was wrong, Mary did not break her half of the Stare of Mutual Incredulousness that had, by then, been established between the two of us (mine rightfully; hers more desperately). She stood firm. Even though I am sure that she was devastated, she was stubborn to the bitter end, that Mary. Or Kathy. Whatever her name was.

I never saw her again.

And it was no more than a half an hour later when I discovered that it was in fact Mary's own clothes that she had been folding when I mistakenly tore her laundry away from her, and put it through a second cycle of washing.

So, I know that I am pointing out the obvious when I say that sharing a laundry room can be tricky at times. That timing is essential. And, tonight was no exception to the obvious, well known, and at times boring facts about laundry rooms that I have outlined here. There was so much laundry in queue to be either washed or dried in my laundry room, that it was hard to differentiate between the two. Apparently a system had been developed between the tenants. But it was lost on me. It just seemed that every tenant in the building suddenly had a ton of laundry to do. There was the sense that some emergency had transpired. About laundry. And that, whatever it was, it was epic. It has never been like that in the laundry room before. I should also mention that at this juncture one of the washing machines appeared to be broken. It was a bad. Bottom line. So I put down my laundry bag and turned around to go upstairs. By the time I reached my apartment, I was in a rotten mood.

My whole world came crashing down:

I hated everything now. I had nothing clean to wear. Not for Father's Day. Not for Monday. So I sat here and paged angrily through a magazine and hated my life and all of my clothes. My dirty clothes. Why didn't I do laundry last night? Clean or dirty, it didn't matter. I wanted to throw away all of my clothes. Not just into the garbage, but through the window. While yelling. At this point, I really hated my clothes. Mostly for not being clean. I was tortured by the idea of, What will I wear tomorrow? The next day? What will I do? Which led to, What am I doing with my life? Why don't I have my own washing machine by now? Which led to (alternately), Who am I? And, Who the hell do I think I am? And finally to something about, I hate this kitchen..

It went like that for a while.

But then I went downstairs (mostly to recollect my bag of laundry before some cat made it their bed for the night) and all of the piles of laundry were gone. And every machine, be it washer or dryer, was empty. And it looked like someone swept. And the broken washing machine was again lit up, saying, $1.25. So everything was ok. So I put my laundry in. Now I'm just waiting to change loads.

Note to self:

Watching Francis should be done only when one is well rested and otherwise not menstrual.

Avocados are not that good for you, require patience, and are only to be eaten when actually ripe.

Placing phone calls while still partially asleep is a big mistake.

Your new permanent raspy voice is not because you are finally becoming Marlo Thomas, but because you are tired and have been smoking too much.



  1. Anonymous3:25 PM

    It was a hilarious twist that the laundry you defended turned out to be Mary’s own. But I truly loved your reaction to the whole situation and felt along with you the way it was. Though I just want to mention that I think you have to be an actress in a Falini film or some such person to actually throw all your clothing out the window screaming; it’s not law, but I think it just may be general decorum.
    Anyway, spectacular stuff here. I’ll be back, if you don’t mind having me.

    Todd Vodka

  2. Damn it that was funny.

    I hated using the laundry-mats too. I'm so glad to finally have my own washer and dryer (uhm...not to rub it in or anything, hehe).

  3. Note: damn funny. you pulled the rug from under me. thank you.

  4. Sounds like we should have a heart-to-heart over some International Coffees.

    You're right though, you shouldn't fold someone else’s laundry. But is it wrong to curl up in it and take a nap like a hamster? It so warm and it smells good. Who would get angry at me for that? I’m such an angel when I sleep. It can be quite disarming.

  5. Yeah, maybe there's something to be said about washing your dirt linen in public (can you feel the metaphors?) exactly what - i don't know i'll go away and think of a decent comment.

  6. todd vodka:
    I'm glad. And yes. Felini. Life imitating movies. (Where does *life* get off, imitating movies?!)
    Thank you, I'll check out your blog..

    boabhan sith:
    Yes, but when I finally do have a washer/dryer it will be that this luxury still isn't near enough. And it never will be. Not until I have a washer/dryer in every room. It's never ending..

    blog ho:
    Good! I like to pull rugs from under people. I'm tricky that way. Ole!

    It's ok that you do this. Clean laundry is warm and nice. And it smells good. Go ahead. Just never fold the laundry.

    I can..

  7. i just read it again and it was even funnier. and guess what? i was fooled again. no, that's a lie.

  8. Ole to the 2nd power..

  9. Again, with the hidden essayist. Fucking funny stuff.

    Yeah, um, maybe you should keep the tragic Jessica Lange movies for another time.

  10. I satrted reading this last night and for what ever reason I started walking around my house before I finished. I was laughing to myself thinking, it would be so funny if Vic ripped the Kathy/Marys own clothing from her and rewashed it cig hangin' out of her mouth and all. I just finished reading it and to my surprise Wala it was, ohahahahah. I can't stop laughing at the idea of you so determined, smoking, turning the machine to HOT. I then decided you should make a habit of everytime she's doing laundry you should bust in at the end and either rewash or dry her cloths. As if you have realized she doesn't have the ability to know whether or not her clothing is done heheh.

    I also have the raspy voice right now, and a morning cough that vaguely resembles TB. It's great isn't it.

  11. That was me, and I tricked you into doing my laundry.

  12. LOL! Great post Victoria...

    Next time, just come over and borrow my machine! ;)

  13. This needs time and thought, I have laundry stories...boy do I. You may have inspired me. A few of my favorite stories to tell involve laundry...several in fact. Laundry can indeed be quite important can't it? And now you have your own washer and dryer(what an eye opener that is huh? I find myself occasionally longing for the days when I loaded it all up and got it done at once!)and a new kitten to sleep in your laundry mountain! Exciting times-I mean it! I hear ya about the blogging stuff-life always moves us along without our asking and the busyness of the nothing and everything consume every moment. Except this one. This one is me smiling at you, your story, the memories it evokes in me and the laughs you recieve from Brian. Speaking of pets-we were speaking of pets, right? I have decided that my next kitchen fish(there is always a next one) will be named...drumroll please... Gefilte. Trite yes but I need all the laughs I can get.

  14. Gelfite is a perfect name (and hilarious) and it's crazy you said that as I was just reading about the disappearing deli in Chicago.. (which I was just complaining about. I do so love old world delis!)..

    Somehow lanundry figures in blogging BIG time.

    It's a good symbol, and something I feel I'm doing constantly. Even when I put it off, it's a whole *thing*. There was a blogger who's handle was "avoiding the laundry".

    So, you know, we aren't alone!