Nick had no clothes to wash, but he wanted to check the bulletin board. A notice said: “Flying to Brazil in July. Twin-engine Beechcraft. Three passengers wanted to split fuel and expenses.” He read a sign in Spanish about a Mamborama, then a flyer from Hunter College. Why not a Fisher College? Nick read the flyer, which was about a scholarly conference on masturbation. It would be attended by a bunch of jerkoffs. He took out his notebook and wrote: Masturbation is the thief of lust.
He read a notice about a street fair scheduled for the next Saturday. Nick disliked most street fairs and avoided them—they represented consumerism intruding upon the street. Another notice announced a poetry reading. They were so boring! Poetry readings were a form of cultural torture, but sometimes he attended for social reasons. He had once written: After the agony of the reading comes the ecstasy of the party. The Laundromat attendant had put up a crudely written sign: “Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.”
Nick looked over the people in the laundromat. He remembered once seeing a blind man doing his laundry entirely on his own. One of the people missing in his life was an articulate blind person, a friend who could describe smells, sounds, and textures in detail, and who would tell him how he rode the subways and shopped and did everything else that sighted people do, but in a world of blackness.
Nick observed a woman buy a little box of detergent from the vending machine. Didn’t she know that it was much cheaper to bring a container of soap from a large box in her apartment? How else did she waste money? Then he frowned as he saw a man adding softener to his laundry. The man apparently did not realize that it was coating his clothes and also cutting down on absorbency. Real men don’t use softener! The macho guys put hardener in their laundry.
Nick stood next to a young woman at a table and watched her folding underwear. She did not seem to mind his presence as she folded a few pairs of black lace panties. When she dropped a bra on the floor, he quickly bent down to retrieve it. “Thanks,” she said, smiling at him. He thought of talking with her and getting her phone number, but decided against it. He didn’t like her underwear.
Nick left the laundromat, thinking about the young woman. Maybe she rented movies on Saturday nights and viewed them alone. He wondered why she was doing her laundry on a weekday morning. And maybe she had dropped her bra on purpose, the way women used to drop handkerchiefs to attract attention. He knew there was a shortage of men. Maybe women were now dropping bras. Did they throw them out? Did they pass them down to their younger sisters? It was a mystery. Where were all the outgrown bras?
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