The Venice Files: Laundromat Lunacy
Guest Writer: Danielle Murray thevenicefiles.com
Danielle Murray is a new Guest Writer for My Venice Life and is new to Venice. See Venice through a fresh set of eyes that paint a vignette of the wackiness and uniqueness of Venice!
I babysat this kid the other day and we decided it would be fun to tie dye a few white t-shirts (okay, it was my idea, I was going to a music festival in Chillicothe, Illinois for my bachelorette party the next day so I thought I could kill two birds with one stone: fun activity for kid and also come away with two psychedelic t-shirts for the fest.) We tie dye the shirts and I send the kid home with his two of his shirts that are soaked in dye and wrapped in plastic wrap and instructions for his mom: wring out extra water and put in washing machine separately.
I go to wash out my own tie dyed shirts at the Venice Beach Laundry – which happens to be my favorite laundromat ever – they have murals of Venice over the dryers and play classic rock, and it is right across the street from our house. I come back after doing a few errands to put the shirts in the dryer. But, to my dismay, the shirts are GONE. I look into a few others, even though I am very sure that I put them in washer #28 (I use the association game, “last year I was 28 years old”, works like a charm).
I then go to the attendant who is standing in his attendant room – a room I do not feel comfortable stepping all the way into; it is very dimly lit by light bulbs that give off kind of an eery orange glow, and only slightly bigger mop closet with exposed pipes and yellow papers tacked to the wall, basically, it’s the type of place I would fear if I stepped all the way in I would never come back out, so I just peek my head in. “I can’t find my shirts, I think someone took them,” I say. He tells me to check the dryers.
Yeah right, I think, maybe I’ll also find them folded with avelvet satchel quarters on top of them, too, but I’ve been there plenty of times and I’m pretty sure there is no laundromat fairy watching out for me. But I look in the dryers and on the folding tables anyway, exclaiming to anyone that will listen – which only consisted of one person – an elderly gentleman with spectacles and a white beard – who shakes his head sympathetically as I tell him my dramatic story (they were here and then ‘poof!’ they were GONE!). I look into all the dryers to futility. No tie dye shirts. I sigh.
A tall man comes up to me, “hey,” he says. “what are you looking for?” “I had two tie dye t-shirts,” I say, emphatically. “I put them in the wash and now I can’t find them.” “I saw a woman – a really big woman – he puts his arms out to his side to emphasize the bigness of woman, “she was looking at the shirts like this.” He puts his hands out as if he’s examining said shirts. “I was thinking when she was holding them up that there’s no way that they would fit her, but I saw her take them.” “Seriously?” I say. “And she took them? Are you sure?” I am wondering what a “very large woman” is doing with two extra small, tie dye shirts. “Yeah, yeah, I think she’s out here.”
I follow my knight in shining armor to the back of the laundromat and out the door to where a very fat woman is sitting on a blue Ikea tarp, drinking a lemon ice tea out of a can. He was not kidding, not only is she very large, she is morbidly obese and could have probably been Jabba the Hutt’s stunt double. I stand in back of the man while he confronts her. “You took her shirts,” he says. Then I, being angry, though still choosing to stand very much behind the man, confront her too, “hey you took my shirts?” At first, she denies it. “No I didn’t.”
But then, she retracts, and says, snarling at me, “why should I give them back to you?” The answer to this question seems so fundamental that I can’t come up with a decent answer. “Well, I… They’re mine.” I say lamely. The man continues to defend my honor. She gives me some pathetic excuse that she thought they were “a part of the lost and found”. “But they were in the washing machine” I argue with my hands on my hips. I am about to give up though – I’m starting to feel bad that I’ve dragged this very nice man into my laundromat drama and having him fight my laundromat battles for me – when finally the woman says, “fine.” The man and I stand there as the woman goes to lift up her shirt; she is wearing layers I realize, and my two shirts must be somewhere under one of them. “Uh, you know what? Forget it, never mind. You can keep them.” She shrugs, puts her shirts back down.
I sigh, and then turn to the man. “Thank you so much for your help,” I say to him. Someone that would confront a woman the size of Jabba the Hutt over a strangers two tie dye t-shirts, is someone that restores my faith in humanity. I am telling the story to my fiancé, probably for the second time, as we’re driving to Best Buy. I look out the window onto Lincoln Bl, “That’s her!” I exclaim. She’s walking down Lincoln Bl, dragging the Ikea tarp behind her. “That’s the woman that took my shirts.” “THAT’S her?” He says. “I know her.” “You know her?” I ask him. “Well, I’ve seen her before.” “I’m still kind of pissed about it,” I say, but I laugh. My fiancé says that he can see, after frequenting the Venice Beach Laundry, why so many sitcoms have scenes based around laundromats.
This most resent incident probably falls in the top five strangest occurrences at the laundromat, in the five months we’ve lived there, right in between the two guys that dance in front of the dryers, above the one that gets naked but behind the one that dances every single Wednesday. The mother of the kid I watch tells me that I can always use their washer and dryer; a brand spanking new washer and dryer – and interestingly enough, I did not say scream “yes!” right away…
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Photo Courtesy of: Danielle Murray