Laundromat Love

Shhh. Don’t tell. I love the laundromat. I dated a guy for awhile who’s washer and dryer broke down about every 3 months, and when he’d call and tell me about it, annoyed that he’d have to go around the corner to finish up his laundry, I would beg to go along. “I love the laundromat!!!” I’d say. Now I look back and think to myself “maybe that was the first nail in the coffin…” but I stand by my love for the laundromat – and here are just a few reasons why: 

  • The real “fresh linen scent” (not “real” real – but more real than Febreeze).
  • The way the windows fog up in the winter and make it look like a cozy, warm oasis.
  • The “Missing/Found Clothes” bulletin board.
  • Creepily noting other people’s folding techniques (halfway longways THEN the horizontal foldover – that’s so weird!)
  • Counting how many people fall asleep upright in an uncomfortable chair (a lot more than you’d think).
  • A nostalgic love for all things leftover from the 70’s that are cooler the dingier they get.
  • The fact that the whole idea is that you go there to clean things, but they’re usually the dirtiest holes on the block.

Listen laundromat – it’s not your cleanliness that I love – it’s everything else you have to offer that keeps me coming back (…once a year…). 

Probably my favorite reason for going to the laundromat is the romanticized idea of laundry and love. I am the worst kind of hopeless romantic at heart, and finding love at the laundromat…I mean, could it get anymore romantic???  If you’re saying, “ummmmm….yes….” then may I kindly direct your attention to the  plethora of Hollywood love scenes inspired by, and filmed at….the laundromat.  OK – off the top of my head – Shopgirl, 40 Days & 40 Nights, BottlerocketSecretary – even Fight Club has a laundromat love scene – did you forget they snuck it in there? Not me – I don’t even know what that movie is about –  but basically someone sees love in someone else at a laundromat. 

IOIs all over New Hampshire

If you google “love + laundromat” you’ll find a guy in Manchester, NH who writes a column called, “The Pick-Up Artist” for the local publication “The Hippo“. Boy, life has dealt this guy the royal flush. I don’t know if I would turn to something titled, “The Hippo” for love advice, but to each his own. To sum up the article for you (note to self: god, what am I doing with my time?) – he rates the two laundromats in town on “pick-up-ability”. The first is a place right downtown (so convenient because you can head to a bar in between loads). Unfortunately, Manchester is one of those tiny Northeastern towns small enough that “none of those places are open on the weekend, when you are likely to be doing your laundry…” So I guess – we’re down to one. The second option…Bird Bath Laundry…(because birds carrying on and molting and such in their own feces and disease screams “clean”) gets this glowing recommendation: “Nice laundromat located up the street from McDonald’s. Maybe you can con some hottie into walking there with you to get a sundae. Meh.”  The last bit of laundry advice Manchester’s own answer to Mystery leaves us with are a few lines to remember when that special someone stops in to drop a load (that’s right) between McRibs…”Damn, I can never get these J. Crew shirts to fold right.” Oh good god Manchester – I wish your singles luck and a lot of antidepressants.   

Reading this article really solidified my feelings that  a.) this guy needs to change his column name to  “The Anti-Climatic Recommendation Artist”  and b.) finding love at the laundromat might be another one of those things that only works in a big city. Or in a small city full of hot single people too afraid of at-home electrical fires to install washers and dryers. That could be the city for me.   

Inspired by “The Pick-Up Artist,” but more-so the need to clean my summer comforter before putting it away…I decided to head to the local laundromat this morning. I thought it would be a good exercise in either renewing my love – OR – getting a dose of reality and reminding me why washers and dryers must be a staple in the search for my next apartment. This is what I found when I got there: 
  • 1 woman chain-smoking outside the one open facility door – I guess presenting herself as some kind of clean laundry gauntlet challenge. She reminded me of the troll in that children’s fable who makes travelers answer a riddle before crossing the bridge to safety…however, in this situation she is just a troll who smokes. The laws of science and nature are asking the riddle and it’s “how does one maneuver a basket of clean clothes safely through a cloud of skunk that is gathering, and confined to, this one doorway…?”  My answer was to cover the laundry with a poncho that was in the trunk. It was so serendipitous because I definitely never actually use it as a poncho, AND had it not been there I would have had to resort to idea #2, which was to throw  a brick through the front window and make my escape with the laundry tied in a bundle on top of my head. I can barely wrap a baby in a blanket. Bundling is not within my skill set.  This would have been a disaster.
  • 2 kids who kept yelling at each other, their parents, and anyone in earshot that they were going to kill each other. I took it for the warning it was, but thought – “Sounds like this is a good time for a lesson. And sometimes those lessons do end in death.” In my defense they had already rammed into my shins twice with a laundry cart.
  • 2 parents who had brought a pizza to the laundromat to distract their kids from the fun of slowly murdering each other via suffocation with newly cleaned clothes. And where did they put said pizza dripping oil THROUGH the box??? “DDDaaaaan, where should I put the piiiiiizaaaaa??”  “Don’t use that table – why, that makes too much sense! Look, there’s a folding station right here!”   Bravo idiots. Had I seen an unsuspecting patron lay their newly cleaned shirt  down for a nice fold, I was totally prepared to feel okay about my decision to put their kids in a side-loader and hit the spin cycle.   
  • 6 people who thought the correct way to pronounce “wash” was “warsh”.
  • 12 magazines from 2008 – 1 consumer reports “Best Cars of 2008” and 11 copies of Parenting Magazine – leading me to the inevitable conclusion that this laundromat steals its reads from local doctor’s offices.

Yes, I had definitely schooled myself in reality…I was so ready to give up my love affair with the laundromat – and then…on my way out to the parking lot – I found three quarters someone had dropped. Total laundromat redemption. “HOT DAMN!” I thought to myself, “I DO love the laundromat!” See ya’ next year. 

No love found at the laundromat this week, so stay tuned for next week’s installment where I post a Craigslist ad for someone to accompany me to a movie in Perrysburg, Ohio, conduct a series of pre-screening interviews,  and describe the shenanigans in detail. Don’t worry – my safety won’t be in jeopardy, as I plan to have a cameraman accompany us along the entire journey. You may not ever see actual footage, but the presence of a silent third-party should make this experiment all the more interesting.

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