Determining whether you’re a success in life is simple: You either own a washer and dryer, or you don’t.
I fall into the latter category, which automatically makes me a member of the International Giant Losers Club—people who can’t even buy a Kenmore on credit.

Membership in this exclusive organization allows you, the giant loser, to spend vast amounts of time in laundromats with people you would ordinarily see only on Jerry Springer or The Gong Show.

The Black Hole of Calcutta is a romantic getaway destination compared to your local laundromat. Look around. Women muttering in languages you’ve never heard before, babies shrieking, teenage boys playfully wounding each other.

Yet despite our apparent differences, we all have one thing in common. Each of us has put off coming to the laundromat until virtually every single piece of clothing we own has been soiled beyond recognition.

We may not share the same customs and beliefs, but we are united in sporting our very last wearable ensemble, and mine just happens to be a dandy.

I am looking exceedingly lovely in a black silk kimono over a one-piece floral swimsuit.

Not a soul notices anything unusual about my outfit, and indeed—why should they? They’re all dressed like sideshow attractions, too.

Everything’s in fashion here: prom dresses, raccoon coats, leisure suits, wedding gowns. There are obese women bellying up to the Speed Queens in micro-minis, and Tibetan monks in madras shorts and platform shoes.

Two weeks from now, they’ll return wearing something even more bizarre. These are people who just plain don’t care anymore.

I’m recognized by one of the regulars.

“The kimono looks very sharp, Julie!”

“Thanks, Dave. I don’t think I’ve seen you in a bikini before. Stunning!”

“My girlfriend forgot it at my place. Otherwise, I would have had to come down here nude. I’d like you to meet my friend, Matt.”

“Hi, Matt. Haven’t seen anyone here in a Santa suit in July before. Kicky.”

“It was either this or an Easter Bunny costume.”

“You made the right choice, believe me.”

“You don’t think it’s too dressy?”

“Normally I’d say yes, but the shower flip-flops are a nice touch. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always pictured Santa wearing big black boots.”

“Traditionally, sure, Santa has worn big black boots, but my message is, ‘Hey, Santa, give shower flip-flops a try!’”

“And I’m certain Santa’s at the North Pole thinking over your suggestion this very moment.”

“Gee, do you really think so?”

“Yeah, I sure do. But don’t go by me. I once predicted that all the catchers in the American League would make the switch to loofah mitts. Well, this has been utterly fascinating, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself. I see an old friend over there by the sorting tables. Yo, Michelle.”

“Yo yourself, Julie. Great Kimono! Let me guess: No underwear, of course. How’ve you been?”

“Never mind about me. You look fantastic. Only you could accessorize toreador pants with an X-ray vest!”

“Tell me the truth. Do you like it better with or without the diving helmet?”

“With the diving helmet, but without the beekeeper’s gloves.”

“You’re tough, but fair, Julie. I heard a rumor that you’re seeing someone, and that you met him here.”

“You heard right. Needless to say, he’s a special guy who’s not afraid to tackle the really tough stains. Trust me, this dude can bleach.”

“So, when do I get to meet Mr. Fluff ’N’ Fold?”

“Three weeks from today. He’ll be completely out of clothes by then.”

“How will I know him?”

“Easy. He’ll be wearing open-toed sandals, an astronaut suit, and a fez. I’m afraid the relationship is doomed, however. Consider the source here, but I don’t think I can get past the fez.”

Bye for now.
Kiss, kiss.

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