Flashback. Yep the idiot we are observing is me and I’m sweating in New York’s summer heat. My hair is pulled back is some frizzy ponytail, and I’m wearing my favorite tie-dye with a stupid grin on my face. It’s my first laundry day in the city.
An older, Italian gentleman comes from behind the counter. “You have been here before, no?’
I snake my head. Guess we don’t have to sign up.
“Come with me,” he shuffles toward an open washer.
“So you have quarters, yes? Okay good. They go one… two… three…” he says pushing $1.75 into the slot, counting out loud the entire time. Thank goodness the place is deserted – how embarrassing. “Six… Seven… Now. The detergent goes in here, see? Yes. Good.”
He smiles at me probably thinking I have the mental capacity of a four-year-old. Never the less, I am grateful for his demonstration and now understand that you, in fact, do not have to “sign up” for anything at the Laundromat.
Flash-forward. It’s been seven months (and you really don’t want to know the few amounts of times I’ve been in this place – why else has it taken me so long to write about it?!). I’m patiently waiting for my wash to finish when I see him coming. “Code Blue!” I think to myself… but it’s too late. Eye contact was made. He’s talking! I can’t avoid him… Now I must unwillingly converse with a dude who thinks I might be his soul mate!
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain:
New Yorkers have always had an infatuation with serendipitous encounters. Meeting your husband in line at the grocery store, running into your next best friend on the train, striking up conversation with your soul mate…yes, you guessed it… at the Laundromat.
Thus, I have labeled the Laundromat Talkers. Here are 3 scenarios you can expect to see… because I’ve seen them.
1) The Gossip:
“So he was taking the kids… and I was like no, you know dinner is about to be ready! And the kids are all we wanna do this… we wanna do that… you know?”
“Oh I SO know. That isn’t fair. You have any kids?” The woman randomly turns and asks me like she knew I was listening. I say no.
“Just wait!” Her northern accent still rings in my ears.
I sure as HECK better not me doing me AND my children’s laundry here. Kill… me… slowly…
2) The Guy You Really Don’t Want To Talk To (aka Code Blue):
I catch someone looking at me. “Are you using that washer again?” He has another load to do, with Blue Boxers sitting on the top of his pile. There’s an open washer two machines down, but apparently he wants mine.
No. Do you see any other clothes? Still, I guess it’s polite to ask.
I just shake my head and give a half-smile. A moment or so passes.
“So… do you come here often?” Blue Boxers asks with a silly grin.
Probably not as often as I should. But what kind of question is that anyways? Yes I come here on the occasion. Do you really want to talk right now? I look gross and you can currently see my unmentionables in the spin cycle.
“Yeah, uh…when I need to, you know.
He laughs too hard at my stupid comment. “Yeah, yeah... Is it always this crowded on Sunday?”
In and out Blue Boxers. That’s all I’m trying to do. Get in. Then get out.
“I’m not sure… I don’t usually come on Sundays…” (Never let 'em know your schedule!). Beep. My clothes are finished and I plan my escape, as he talks about detergent.
“Well hey, bet I’ll see you around, you know. At the Laundromat!”
“Sure, yeah” I smile and leave. Blue Boxers, maybe if you could have talked about anything else besides laundry, it would have been different. But alas, your last words to me were “at the Laundromat” better known as “my definition of hell.” Therefore your Blue Boxers created the term Code Blue.
3) The Guy You Wish You’d Talked To
Suddenly, a tall blonde with hair Justin Bieber would have been jealous of walks in. On an off chance, I look up from my novel and see this extremely good-looking guy, doing his own laundry (love that).
He finds his quarters. I’m staring. He puts in the soap. I’m still staring. He adds in his clothes. I’m totally still staring, though I know I should look away soon but – bam! He caught me, oh oh… I’m so caught. Eyes in book, EYES IN BOOK idiot! Okay, okay were safe.
No wait. We’re not. Because he smiled at me.
He smiled at me!! Oh my gosh – best day ever! Except, where is he going? Hot boy, wait - where are you going? No… no! He’s gone.
But it’s probably better we never spoke. He would have say something about dryer sheets and I would have said something snarky and then the whole moment would have been ruined. Now, he'll always get to be the guy I wish I'd talked to...
And sometimes that's better ;)