I hate doing laundry. My ex-girlfriend claimed to love it. I think she just wanted me to ask her to do mine. She loved me and would’ve robbed a liquor store if asked her to. I never asked her for anything. I guess she finally realized that I never would. So now I’m doing my laundry with strangers again. And the change machine spits back my five.
I forgot to grab the dirty towels hanging in the bathroom. I throw the colors and whites in together. It really doesn’t matter. My white t-shirts are stained yellow under the arms. My socks either have holes in the big toe or the elastic is all stretched out and floppy. Several of my other shirts are frayed at the collar. I only have three pairs of jeans that I’ll wear at least three times between washes. And I dump it all into one of the large $3 machines.
As I enter the laundry mat I notice a girl sitting, reading. Early thirties. Dark curly hair, glasses, jeans and sport sandals. Her feet are pale and unattractive. Her toes are a bit too knuckley. And her toe nails are bare and have those thick ridges. She looks up at me and I notice that she has small breasts, but her eyes are bright despite herself. I’m glad that I too brought a book along to help me get it through it all.
The machine spins as I read. People are walking back and forth behind me. A young Mexican couple comes in with their toddler son. Cute boy. Round brown face, all smiles. He’s there the whole time I’m doing my laundry and doesn’t cry or whine even once. The television bolted above the wall of clanking dryers adds to the dull dumb noise in our heads. Yet, it’s still not enough to stop me from thinking about how I wish I could quit my job, that I’ve been driving without brake lights or that I’m probably not going to win the lottery.
I dry my black t-shirts by setting the dryer for ‘no heat’. They are still damp by the time the rest of my stuff is dry and I’ll have to take them home to hang dry. I do this so that they don’t fade as quickly. As the washer comes to a stop I hunt for a cart to carry the wet clothes to a dryer. There’s a cart beside the girl with the bad feet. I ask her if she’s using it. She turns her full attention to me and says that I can take it. I wonder. Upon closer inspection I can see that she is attractive. Pretty. Strong nose. I’ve always had a thing for noses. Feet too. I look back down at hers and I walk away with the cart.
The drying requires more baby sitting than the washing. I have to check the clothes each time the quarter runs out. I give up on the book at that point. Thirty or forty more minutes and I’m folding my things. It’s close to 9:00 and I’m getting hungry. My heart sinks as I think about dinner as most times mine comes wrapped in paper. Then I’ll be getting into my car the next morning with the smell of cheeseburgers and fries still lingering. And I’ll be reminded of how lonely life can be for the narcissist.