LaundryVille Letters; Shorty, Santa and A Disney Princess
It’s been three months of pilgrimages to LaudryVille. Each week I drag my dirties in, load the machines and sit down to write. The first weeks it was emotional and sad and depressing as hell. Today it was just a Friday and a regular old day in a dingy place where half the machines have “Out of Order” signs taped to their doors. It looks a little more tragic every time I’m there and for some reason, people assume I work there. Perhaps I look out of place with my computer at the table or today it might have been the sundress, but inevitably it is just assumed that I am the keeper of the castle on 84th Street. Not a great castle at the moment, but it will do for now. They should probably start paying me.
The crowd today was mostly men. An odd lot. A fiction writers buffet of salty characters. There was a very short, small fellow who looked to be in his sixties. He was there with a big, tall silver-haired gent, who looked like Santa Clause and sipped on a Diet Coke the entire time. The short man, who I will refer to as Shorty, kept rolling and a red box of Pall Mall cigarettes over and over in his hand so nimbly that it looked like may have been a Vegas magician. It was impressive. He also started every sentence with “Sweetheart” and had no problem getting in real close to talk. Uncomfortably close. When his laundry was finished he packed all of his unfolded clean clothes into two big navy blue bags and heaved them over his shoulders. He came about two inches from my face and said with great conviction, “Sweetheart, you have no idea how heavy these are. They would break your back.” Then he pushed the door open for Santa, who only carried his Diet Coke and not lifted a finger in the back-breaking laundry process, and they were gone. I’m dying to know what a day with the two of them is like?
There was another man who was in town visiting his brother and had never used a coin-operated machine before. He wore khaki knee-length shorts and work boots with an oddly high heel. He had to have been six foot four without the boots and his legs were super skinny. I called him Daddy Long Legs. Daddy Long Legs needed lots of instruction and had lots of questions. He had a very deep voice and sounded like he should be a country singer, but he also had no patience and paced around the place like a caged lion at the zoo. He was missing two teeth in the middle of his lower jaw. I wanted to know what happened to those teeth, but not that bad.
In the middle of the Daddy Long Legs, Shorty and Santa scene, a young lady who looked around twenty waltzed in like she owned the place. She was singing like a Disney princess as she entered and continued to do so the entire time she was there….the entire time. She wore a purple fanny pack and seemed to float from machine to machine and then gracefully sachet into a chair as if she really was in a castle. She was radiating this giant pink bubble of happiness. I’m not exaggerating. It was as if no one else was in the place existed and she was Cinderella going to a ball later this evening. I could not get enough of her.
At one point Disney Princess went to the bathroom, still singing of course and Daddy Long Legs, who had been outside, came pacing in with his giant long legs and tried to open the bathroom door. I could hear her singing and I was nowhere close to the bathroom, so I don’t know how he could possibly have not heard her when he tried to yank the door off the hinges. I am sure she was taking advantage of some bitchin acoustics in there and Daddy Long Legs interrupted her song. Not cool, that Princess needed to hear her fantastic voice. He went back outside for a while and she floated back out, sat back down and continued to sing. She never stopped, no pause for applause, no refrain, not for one single second. That girl needs her own Disney show people, I dig her.
And lastly, there was a very friendly man who had suffered a stroke and lost the use of his right arm. He told me about his daughter and his ex-wife and how lonely he is most of the time. He also couldn’t believe how beautiful Disney Princess’s voice was and what a treat it was to listen to her while our clothes dried. We talked as I folded and we both laughed about the crazy things you see at LaundryVille. When I was finished I took one basket out to my car and when I turned to go get the rest of my things this extremely kind man had put my clothes in a rolling basket and brought them out to my car for me. Not at all easy for him, but he did it with a big smile on his face. I gave him a hug and thanked him for being so kind. I wonder if he gets hugged very often? I doubt it and humans need hugs!
LaundryVille is a study in human behavior and my friends’ humans are as fascinating as hell. I include myself in this study. I have been up, down, and in about a hundred different places emotionally while there. It is a messy, beat up gathering place and an opportunity to connect, and I appreciate that. So do me a favor, please be more kind, and generous. Be willing to talk to complete strangers, give hugs and to go out of your way to make someone’s day. Someone did for me, and I am forever grateful.