The manuscript finished, emailed off to the editor and a whole day stretching out before me, what should a gal do to celebrate?A day at the spa? A trip to the beach? Lunch with the ladies? An afternoon at the bookstore?
Those were all my options.
That and the mound of laundry that had gone neglected for two weeks as I headed into the home stretch, unable to break focus.
While life at Pinehurst No. 2 is enviable, what with the fairway across the street and the robins that dance in the holly trees, there is no washer and dryer in my Parkhouse apartment. There’s no oven either. So if it’s a biscuit I need, I have to head over to the Villager. And if it’s clean jeans, I have to head into Southern Pines to the Laundromat.
As laundromats go this one is decent. There’s big stainless steel washers. For $3.25 I can do a load in 20 minutes. Another 50 cents and 14 minutes later and those jeans are dry. Today was a four-load laundry day. What has suprised me about the laundromat is that as rarely as I go, I seem to always run into the same people there.
Why are they still there no matter what day I go, no matter what time? Do they live there?
There’s the blond with the long legs who wears stretch pants with hiking boots and a stocking cap. Those stretch pants look more like thick pantyhose. And the young man with the square frames and spike hair.
And there’s the lady with the humpback. She may have been five feet tall at some point but she’s less than that by far now. I don’t know her name. The man with the U.S. Navy veteran hat says she suffers from a bone disease and that’s why she can’t stand up straight or raise her head very high.
“How old you think she is?” he asks.
“She looks about that age,” says the guy with the silver cross hanging from his neck.
“My grandmother lived to be a 107,” says the veteran.”Even when she was 102 she was out in the garden with a hoe.”
“She live alone?” I ask.
“No. Her grand-neice lived with her. Did the cooking and looked after her.”
The stainless washer stops. I move my clothes to the 14-minute dryer. The lady with the hump stands by the dryer talking about the gorilla that tore the face off that lady out in California. She’s not talking to anyone in particular. Just anyone who’ll listen.
That happens to be me.
“My neighbor has one of those rotweilers,” she says. “If they bring that dog near me I’ll take a hoe to it.”
“Nothing more dangerous than a woman with a hoe,” I say.
That gets her stirred. She starts telling me about her husband.
“They are too much work. After I got rid of him, I said I’d never have another. A man lay around and pee all over himself like that.”
“I don’t blame you. How long were you married?”
“Twenty years,’ she says. “I was his second wife.”
“Did you divorce him?”
“Nah,” she says, stuffing a folded shirt into a black garbage bag. “I didn’t have to. He died. After he’s dead, somebody came to me and talked about what a good man he was. I asked her, who lived with him, me or you? You telling me what a good fellow he was and me living with him, not you. Don’t be telling me.”
She put another shirt in the bag. “Got me two sons, one 37, one 42. Both still living at home.”
“You need to tell them to get a move on,” I say.
“Ain’t got no money,” she says. “Least ways none for rent. I got me an issue with the pastor.”
“He says you have to love everyone but you ain’t got to like them. Tell me how is that possible? How do you do that? How do you love someone you don’t like? That don’t make hillbilly sense to me. Do it you?”
I laugh. “No, I guess not.”
“Well, I wish somebody would explain to me how it is you love somebody you don’t like.”
Wisdom from the laundromat.