Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Doing Laundry in Kensington Brooklyn


I know why
I hate doing laundry.
Yes, I think I know why.

It all started when I was a kid spending my summers up in the Catskills. Whenever it rained we would somehow end up in the Laundromat in Downsville, New York.
Just sitting there for hours watching the clothes dance through the glass window of the dryer while rain drops bounced off fly ridden window sills. If there was some type of parental torture, I think this was it. No beatings, no screaming, no cigarette burns on my arms. No, just hours in a small town Laundromat while misty rain fell on the mountains. Yes, that was torture, and that’s why I hated doing laundry for such a long time.

And for years I somehow survived in Kensington without ever doing laundry. Ok, well for years my Mom actually did it. But don’t get any ideas, that doesn’t make me a “mamas boy”, I’ve been working since I was sixteen and even bought my own car with my own money when I was 18. So just because my mom did the laundry…ah, um, maybe I’ll stop while I’m ahead on that one.

But when I had my own apartment at 125 Ocean Parkway,
well, I was really on my own you know. Piles of dirty laundry and no one to do it, sometimes forced me to buy new “Hanes” at Silverrod. Because I hated doing laundry you know, and I blame it on those rainy days in the Catskills.

So one day while I was growing mountains of laundry in my apartment I walked by the Laundromat at 403 Church Avenue.
There was a sign in the window that said “drop off”
79 cents a pound.

“What is this?”
“You can actually have someone else
wash you clothes besides your mom?”
“And all you have to do is pay for it?”
“Oh man this is great! “

So I started dropping off tons and tons of laundry.
One time I dropped off 65 pounds, wow, this is fantastic.
And it lasted for years, and they actually separated colors, shirts, underwear and socks.

And once again I dodged the lethal bullet of “doing laundry” and I was almost 40 years old. Just an endless wave of someone else doing my “dirty work” while others suffered watching clothes spin in a dryer. Yes, for years I was the “luckiest man on earth”, and the only “Tide” I knew came in at Coney Island.

But soon it would all come crashing down on me,
yes, my days were numbered.
I was getting married again,
and there was room for a washer
and dryer in our basement.

I remember looking at them at the PC Richards on Atlantic Avenue.
The Maytag logo looked very familiar, and was making me sick.
“My God, those machines in Downsville were all Maytag’s,
and I can never forget that logo”

The delivery was for the next day,
and I was hoping they wouldn’t fit down the stairs.

“Didn’t you do your laundry in college?” said my wife
“I went to college in the city, I never left home”
My wife just rolled her eyes.
You see she left home at 16 and never looked back.
I left home at 16 and took the F-train back the same day.

We were both just so different.

“When you put in the detergent make sure you don’t pour it directly on the clothes. Because if you do, you will probably leave white blotches on all the colored clothes”.

And I learned real fast that if you ruin something.
It’s better to just throw it in the trash,
and not show your wife.

“Ronnie, have you seen our new bath towels?”
“No, I haven’t, maybe we took them upstate by mistake”.

Yes, I was running scared and raking dirt over my footprints.
This whole “laundry” thing was going to catch me.
A washer and a dryer tell no lies.

“Ronnie, what happened to my dress?”
I remember looking at the splotches
on my wife’s dress as I started to sweat.

“I put the Tide in maybe too soon?”

“Did you pour it on the clothes before the water filled?”

“I don’t remember, I don’t remember”.

This was all so awful and tragic, a man who re-built his own car engines and stopped 90 mile per hour slap shots a few years before,
is now being questioned about “laundry”.
What has my little world come to?

But like everything in life there is a beginning and an end.
And for me the end was called “Maytag”, and it was time to grow up.

I was going to love doing laundry,
no matter what it took.

I don’t know what happened, or even how. But somehow I actually started to enjoy washing clothes. Maybe it was the smell of those white things you put in the dryer, or the sound of the washer. I don’t know, but for some strange reason it was all just so easy and didn’t give me nightmares anymore. Water before clothes, no detergent on the jeans, Yeah, me and my big white Maytags, we own the world. And I do fold clothes better than you.
Oh yes I do.

I guess it’s the same thing that happens
to people in jail. You just give in and learn to
accept it. Yeah, instead of becoming a prison lawyer
during my life sentence, I studied laundry.
And I love it more than ever.
Oh yes I do.

Now if I can only remember to separate the whites
from the colors and the towels from the skirts,
I think I may learn to love it a little bit more.
Because whites don’t look good when they’re
light blue, and detergent still makes strange
white splotches. And my wife may still be
checking to see what’s in the trash.

Ron Lopez
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1 comment:

hazmat said...

I think it's being able to do laundry in your underwear.