The month of April—just like any other month in our social culture—is National this day and National that day. It’s Occupational Therapy Month, National Poetry Month and just as you start feeling guilty about the plastic egg halves that get tossed in the trash following Easter, Earth Day on April 22 is there to lift you right back up.
This year, I’m on top of Earth Day and my finances, hopefully earning 20% back from the government’s Energy Star rebate. Jury’s out, though, on if I did it all right; the rebate people of El Paso have turned me down before. Anyway, I digress…this was not a luxury purchase; rather something we desperately needed because our new house had nothing but empty space where a washer and dryer were supposed to go & I’d been recycling the kids’ underwear for longer than I dared admit.
Which brings me to the purpose of today’s topic: I am going to miss the Deerfield Beach Strip Mall 8's “Coin laundry” very, very much. Thanks to a floor model sale, I am the proud owner of my first front loader washer and dryer; it’s space age fancy—quiet, digital and a soothing shade of white. I moved into my new house during St. Pat’s and went to Laundromats for 6 weeks until the LG WM2010C found its way home to me.
I have to say that Laundromats are a happening place for preschool aged children, and that I’m recommending, today, if you have young children, you ought to go to a Laundromat just for the heck of it—even if you have a top of the line pair of laundry machines at home.
Laundromats are their own universe, and, to my great surprise, they haven’t changed much since I relied on them in 1994 to wash my college sweats; you’re still surrounded by patrons dressed like hootchie mamas, their purses full of cigs and stick deodorant; you’d still be put off if you were a grammarian and a big fan of high brow magazines—but still, I enjoy the company of these people.
Some of them set up shop in the corner—spreading a 4 star picnic across the coin laundry’s folding table, so that the children in their charge can snack on grapes, and run back and forth with crackers in their mouths. My daughter helped herself to bite sized cubes of cheese, while her princess underwear tumble-dried next to the Dora pajamas of her little Laundromat peers; they were having a blast! My son, too--he was engrossed by a 100 year-old Atari game in the corner. He pulled a chair over and played Pac Man until his hand hurt.
And I can’t say good enough things about the attendants, who—as busy as they are—still had time to stop my daughter from leaving the Laundromat when she was done socializing and ran out of grapes to eat. I know it’s a cliché, but I “turned my back for just a minute” (to unload the dryer and start folding) when I heard a frantic, “Miss! Miss! Excuse me—your daughter is outside!!!”
In fact she was. Anna was standing under the storefront’s awning and contemplating the passing traffic—looked just about ready to hail the taxi passing by. I brought her back in—while everyone smirked in a warm, friendly way as I admonished maybe a little to loudly: “MOMMY DOESN’T LIKE THAT!!!!”
There was only one negative image I’ll carry with me always from those Laundromat days…I may need therapy…the nice Laundromat attendant and I were shootin’ the bull while she folded stacks of clean clothes (the place does it for 80 cents a pound.) I guess you know where I’m going with this…the clothes she was folding were, well, intimates and from the look of them, I just knew their owner was a resident of the nearby Century Village. They looked exactly like—in size, color, everything—the Shell Gas Station logo—scallop shaped enormous undies, gently used—not so bad you wouldn’t want a Laundromat attendant to see them, but bad enough, trust me.
I should have tied them to a post and waved them like some white flag of surrender to consumerism—because not 2 weeks later and the WM2010C is right at home in my home—and the kids won’t be eating grapes like that anytime soon.