Friday, February 4, 2011

"Huh" and Other Comments

I am an idiot.
I learned this just now.
(I can see Johnny giving me a once-over, curling his lip, and saying something smartass like,"Really, you just now figured that out?") Nobody likes Johnny. The dog and I polled one another, and it's unanimous.

My idiocy has to do with the weather and the fact that we don't get alot of the freezing kind where we are. My pipes in the back of the house froze a couple of days ago, and also the drains that take the excess from the house to the main sewer line under the alley. Half of the house is just fine. The bathroom at the front of the house works great! I suppose we have two sewer lines because those front drains are not backed up. This theory makes sense to me, because I know that the rear bathroom and the washer and dryer hook-ups were added to the house some years after it was originally built in 1929.
But I haven't been able to run the laundry for a few days because of the frozen pipes. I pushed the button on the washer, and all I got was a sound like "erhhhhh."-the pump was struggling to suck the water in, but nothing was coming. So I turned it off and waited.

Sigh.......I hate waiting. There are two or three loads piled up, and I'm thinking about trudging myself over to the laundrymat, where the bums and the moms with their loud, energetic, curious children are waiting for me.
The bums are there because it's warm, and it's the kind of place where, if you ask a person if they have a spare quarter, it's pretty likely they're going to have one. The kids are there because the moms have to drag them along on their daily errands. They seem to always have suckers or some other equally sticky treats filling one side of their faces. They drool a bit when they open their mouths to ask me a question.

The laundrymat is a great place to people-watch.

I like to go in the evening, when the moms and their sticky children are usually safe at home eating supper. I'll take a bottle of wine and a few crackers, some cheese. I take a book along and pretend to read it, but I'm actually looking over the edge at the other laundry-doers.

This is the time of day when you see young couples inlove who put their laundry in the top loaders together without separating the colors, and they help each other measure the soap and count quarters out for one another. If it's a boy and a girl, the boy will always carry the load from the car. He's the strong one after all. He should be the one to do the heavy lifting. They sit together on the little sofa that belongs to the laundrymat, and they pretend to watch TV while holding hands.

Married couples are different. They work together in perfect rythm. They each carry a load. They methodically sort through the laundry, barely talking to each other. They don't have to. They've done this before. They know exactly what to expect of each other. One measures soap as the other loads quarters into the slots. Each of them claims one of those rolling baskets and places it by the washer, ready to be filled and rolled to the dryers. They do not sit on the sofa, and they do not watch TV. They sit in their car. I imagine they are arguing, but I suppose they could be snuggling just as easily.

This is also the time of night when you see single men. Single working men who are just coming off shift and need to wash their coveralls for the next day. They are tired. They are hungry. Some of them are lonely for company, and think they'll strike up a conversation with the pretty little lady with the wine.

That would be me.

I prefer not to be bothered, but I'm not an ass, so I always humor them with conversation. I have never shared my wine. Or my cheese.

"Whatcha readin' there?" he'd ask me in his Texan drawl. "Romance novel?"

I try not to roll my eyes. I don't have anything against a romance novel. I've written two of them recently. I think they're great, but it stings me a little that men always think it's a romance novel.

"No," I'd say with a bit of bite, "but I think I have one in the car if you'd like to borrow it?"

And he'd chuckle and then comment on the picture on the front of the book.

"It's a story that addresses the failure of society to recognize the diversity of the human condition."

"Huh." And he'd be silent for a minute and listen to the hum of the machines and consider what he should say next. Most of the time it's nothing. He'd just go back to his laundry, and so would I.

But that's not the part that makes me an idiot.

It's the machine at the house. The pipes thawed out. I pressed the button, and the water came rushing in. I was so excited that I filled it, set it on a supersized load, and waltzed out the door, blissfully unaware that only the pipes bringing water in had thawed. The drainage pipes out were still completely frozen.

So I left to pick up Matt and his four friends from school, drop all of them off, including Matt. Then I drove straight to David's new apartment to pick him up and take him to the store. We spent quite a bit of time there picking out shampoos and toilet paper and new towels and washcloths for his new apartment. Then I took him home and then took myself home.

I stepped into the house with an inch of water sloshing around my feet. The water spun right out of the washer, up the hose and, since it couldn't be convinced to squeeze itself through the frozen drain pipe, went all over my utility room and into the kitchen.

There are now absolutely no clean towels in the house.

The dog and I took a vote, and it's unanimous.

I'm an idiot.


  1. Oh Nessa! I feel for you. We all have our moments, but it was perfectly reasonable for you to think "in" therefore "out." So I wouldn't put this under the "idiot" category.
    Now I loved the laundry scene. Perfect. And this is exactly what I do with books - yep, right in front of the face, just below the eyes. Sometimes I even try to eavesdrop. I once had a writing professor who told us that we had to write a piece based on something we overheard. We were instructed to eavesdrop, to write exactly what we heard even if it was fragmented and nonsensical. So it was all about listening, and what a fun exercise it was!
    You are a great observer. And I'll bet a good listener, too. ;)

  2. We did that writing exercisem too! It was one of my favorites. Just a few minutes ago, I heard my neighbor say to her husband, "We have to call Shawna and tell her that her kids are mutants." (It has so many possibilities!)