I think I get some of my better writing done in the laundromat. It’s a place of strict utility. My fellow unclean neighbors and I come together for our sudsy ritual. Unless it’s that one homeless guy in the corner who blasts out punk music and shouts the occasional obscenity. He’s not quite as clean, but that’s not his intention I suppose.
What is there really to say about laundromats. I grew up frequenting the laundromat in Elgin, Texas with my father. I think my mom got the washer and dryer in the divorce.
My brothers and I were rambunctious and bored as hell every time. Unless we had managed to somehow squaller up a few quarters to play Mrs. PacMan. Eventually I realized that books were in fact portable and thus any down moments for the rest of my teenage years were mainly spent nose down between the pages.
In fact, reading at the laundromat is one of the more comforting images I can draw up in my mind.
Nowadays, I sit like like a crazed tech-hobo with my tattered backpack and laptop typing away, hardly paying attention to all the fresh characters playing out their laundry routine.
Man, you know it has gotten bad when I am writing about laundromats.
My grandfather owned a laundromat, I believe. I remember going with him on his rounds one time when I was less than ten. Checking in to make sure nothing was broken or too dirty. Using the special key to open the machines and collect the hoard of quarters. Quarter hoard. That’s fun to say. It looked like a fortune to me at the time.
It must be strange to earn a living in quarters. I think my dad’s side of the family has always been a bit change obsessed. For instance, my father always used to carry around a change purse and paid exact change as often as he could. I recall many afternoons spent with my brother sorting out coins, counting them, and putting them into paper rolls to give to the bank. True, we weren’t rich, but I don’t think we were broke enough to make such coin-counting a necessity. Then again, summer days in Elgin with a barely working T.V. and three sons to keep quiet. Maybe such tasks were necessity to keep us…subdued.
I think a fondness for coins just runs in the family. Even my father, a man who eschews unnecessary material collection, had a modest coin collection. A relic saved from his childhood.
Today I throw away pennies. Our society has moved beyond it’s coinage days. Beyond soda, clean clothes, and drinking games, quarters are fairly useless. Dimes? Nickles? What’s the point?
Sure, I could make all kinds of tie-ins here to economics and the hazard of inflation by central banking or the advent of digital currencies, but that’s not me. I like to leave the niches and micro-planes of academia to those who enjoy such scholarly flossing.
I prefer to reminisce like an old man on a porch spitting out watermelon seeds of memory. Painting broad pictures about how the buzzing cicadas in the burnt Texas August sunsets made your skin tingle as the heat died down in the laundromat parking lot, knowing that sticky purple snow cones were not too distant in the future