My one friend is someone who drives a Datsun 240Z and if you are old enough to remember what that is, your secret will be safe with me.
It’s white and it looks like it has a million miles on it but he looks comfortable in it as if he is the original owner and has become one with his car. Just the way he sits back in it and reads. He has a ponytail (which I adore on some men) and almost always wears a cap. You know, the ones that make you think of England.
I usually pull-up a few spaces over from him. My routine is to park, grab my quarters, hid my purse and walk into the Laundromat with my basket of clothes. Once in a while we will nod to each other, but most of the time he appears to be quite engrossed in his book.
In all the years I’ve seen him, I’ve only seen him talk on his cell phone once. As for me, that’s the main thing I do while I wait for my laundry to be done. I’m bored, waiting out in the car, and I feel it’s my friends obligations to entertain me while I’m bored, so I start calling people.
It’s gotten now to where they know I am doing laundry. They will answer the phone, asking if my clothes are in the washer or the dryer. They are all smart asses.
I am a creature of habit and I’m still not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
After 3 years of seeing each other and doing our head nod, this guy finally spoke to me. I was, at the time, being mesmerized by my socks and underwear going round and round in the dryer. I can’t help but think what it would be like to be in there with them. Every time I watch a dryer, I have this thought.
He walked by, smiled and then stopped. I smiled back. Today he stopped, smiled and stood in front of me. Suddenly I didn’t know what to say, so I kept smiling.
I could see he was struggling with what to say. I wanted to start a conversation with him, just to ease up his agony, but I was suddenly tongue-tied.
I could see he had very blue and gentle eyes. I could hear the people in the background who were chattering, yelling at their kids and folding laundry and the constant hum of the machines.
“Hi. How are you today?” he asked.
“I’m bored. How are you?”
“Yeah, I’m bored too.”
He kept smiling and looking at me. Suddenly I was afraid he was going to ask me out for a cup of coffee. At that time, I had a boyfriend and it always seems that as soon as you hook-up with someone, suddenly you become the most desirable creature on the face of the planet to people who didn’t even know you existed before.
Then I thought I am just being silly and vain.
“I guess doing laundry is boring, isn’t it?” he asked. I couldn’t look away from his eyes. They were so blue and looked even bluer against his dark tan. This was someone who either spent a great deal of time working outdoors or went to a tanning salon. I hope it was the former because the latter would not have fit with my summation of him. Plus, it would have bummed me out because it would have ruined my illusion of him.
“Yeah, it is. I usually bring something to read but end up making phone calls instead. It’s like I can’t concentrate on a book when I’m outside.”
He looked at me like I was speaking Greek, but kept his smile going.
We chatted for a few minutes and then my dryer started beeping. I didn’t want to pull out my socks and underwear in front of him – hell, I don’t like to do that in front on anyone – so I ignored it. It could wait and no one would die.
Plus, it’s not like I fold my clothes, so no worries. I try but I usually end up just stuffing them in a drawer that has the fewest number of clothes in them.
He shuffled his feet, looked down at them. “Well, you have a good day,” he said as he walked away. I told him to do the same.
I waited until he was out the door before opening the dryer and shoving my clothes in the basket. It was a poor and pathetic basket; all torn up and hard to carry because both handles were broken, but in my everyday life, buying a laundry basket is not something I think about. I only think about it when I carry it on Sundays.
I put my laundry in the car and looked up and saw him sitting in his car, reading.
He didn’t look up as I drove away. I checked, slyly, to see if he had.
After three years, contact had been made.