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Washing My Hands of the Laundry
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Mary's doing the laundry so I guess I'll just kick back and write a journal entry. Please don't label me a male chauvinist. I'm the cook at Casa Maywrite. Mary and I both hate cooking and doing laundry so we've agreed to take on the chore that each of us hates less.

Washing machines bring back bad memories for me, and I don't just mean those tie dyed T-shirts I tried making. When I was going to school, my apartment building in Brooklyn had no laundry facilities. Almost as soon as I ran out of clean clothes, I'd pick the heaps off the floor, shake out the cockroaches, stuff everything into a plastic trash bag, and use the shopping cart to trundle the load down five flights of stairs and from there to the laundromat at the end of the block.

Aside from me, no one who wasn't a Spanish speaking female ever set foot in the place. It made me uncomfortable. Maybe I was invading territory where I didn't belong, overstepping a boundary any native New Yorker would have known about. Did the sign in Spanish on the wall say "Do Not Leave Machines Unattended" or "No White Male English Speakers Allowed"?

The women chattered unintelligibly amongst themselves, glancing my way with what I took to be curiosity. Were they talking about me? It was embarrassing. Particularly since they worked efficiently and obviously knew what they were doing. While they painstakingly sorted their loads into different washers I hurriedly jammed into my machine whites and darks, sweaters and jeans, wools and cottons and rayons -- or whatever the hell the fabrics were -- all together higgledy-piggledy.

Quarters, and every other denomination of money, were at a premium, so I filled the washer until I had to lean against the door to shut it. There was so little room left for water those clothes were practically dry cleaned. After I had transferred the load to the drier, rather needlessly, I sweated out the cycle and then, while the women folded and stacked with military precision, chattering and giving me sideways looks the whole time, I frantically scooped my stuff back into the trash bag in my grocery cart as if the Furies were after my Fruit of the Looms.

What were those women saying about me anyway?

Even now, there are times when, as I pass the washing machine at night, I hear a faint indecipherable gibbering and feel a chill, as if some evil gaze had brushed me.

So you can appreciate why Mary does the laundry.

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