Laundry King

3/16/13 Oh, the memories. Sitting here at the laundromat. My washer at home is afflicted, currently in pieces on the basement floor, awaiting a part that we hope will get ‘er back on the front lines. Was unenthused about this trip but now that I’m here I’m rather filled with nostalgia. I’ve been spoiled by my own laundry apparatus for some years now but god knows I’ve wiled away my share of hours at the ‘ol Laundry King. After high school, with a dented puke green 1972 International Travelall and a powerful itch to put hometown in it’s rearview mirror, me & Kuhn ended up living the slacker’s dream in Tarpon Springs, FL. There was salt water and sand and the drinking age was 18. Was my first laundromat experience and it was quite pleasant ‘cause we’d bring beers and our guitars. The kindly black ladies got a kick out of us dumb, happy kids. It’s interesting to observe- the clothes that people wear to the laundromat are the dregs of their wardrobe, the stuff they’re unconcerned about having in their clean clothes arsenal. That guy over there is runnin’ the flood pants with tight black beer endorsement t-shirt, likely scored at some crappy bar raffle. (My favorite beer swag of all was a Pabst Blue Ribbon toothbrush.) Back when such things mattered, it was a bit of a conundrum- you wanted to look good in case there were pretty girls washing their wash, but you really needed your 2 pair of decent jeans to be laundered. S’pose I could wash ‘em in the sink later and hang ‘em over the heat vent... There were years when I eschewed the ‘mat altogether. I’d just toss the laundry basket in the car and if I ended up at a friends for a cordial –one who possessed such decadent luxuries- I’d say “Hey- mind if I spin a load?” “I folded my t-shirts on your kitchen table...” ( -Somewhere To Go) I lived next to a funeral home for a time, renting the apartment (The Shoebox) from the funeral director. Above the funeral parlor was a washer & dryer that we were allowed to use. I rarely took advantage of it, wasn’t sure just what the hell they washed in there...I HATE having the residue of death on my flannel shirts... Have you ever wondered just how many single socks these laundry purveyors must come to possess? Thousands, I imagine. Poor bastards- separated from their partners, lonely & lost. A massive army of displaced & desperate sock puppets lying in wait, biding their time, finally to strike...a child’s nightmare. Did you ever open the washer after it shut off and it’s still full of water? That sucks. You can wring them clothes hard- twisting & wringing- like a desperate wino trying to squeeze one more drop out of that bottle- and it’s still gonna take 9 quarters to get ‘em dry. My laundromat wardrobe theory proves true again- a woman just came in dressed in some sort of plastic track suit- no need to launder that thing, just wipe ‘er down! I’ve visited many laundromats in many places, but this one here used to be a regular haunt. Clean, uncrowded, and mercifully there’s no TV. Sitting on my tailgate in the parking lot on nice days with a cup of vending machine coffee, actually wishing the clothes would dry slower. Watching some yahoo stuff a tent into the big front-load washer. The sweet old proprietor woman passing out tiny boxes of detergent at Christmas, ribbon n’ all. The pole is still standing that the payphone was hung on, which I used more than once. I still remember one of them calls... A feller can get some thinking done at the ‘ol laundromat. Read a book. Write some song lyrics or a few paragraphs about hanging out at the laundromat. Christ these dryers run hot- my clothes are already ready for the folding. Hey- one of them pretty chicas just came in...stupid flood pants...