Spin City

Our washing machine stopped its circle of life. So, while we wait for parts and service, my wife and I returned to those wonderful days gone by, heading over to the launderette to update my unmentionables, the happiest panties in all the world, but you didn’t hear it from me.

The last time I recall paying by the load was in 1980 – not counting “Slam Dunk Ernest” (1995) – before Donna and I became one in marriage and dirty clothes hamper.

In my single days, I inserted either a quarter or 50 cents to spin an armful of soiled shirts and socks into “GQ” splendor. The price has soared to $1.50 or $1.75, depending on mechanical capacity and/or accounting errors (a k a coin gobbling).

The cleansing results, it seems, have also changed over the years. In the rumpled, devalued, pay-as-you-go laundry of the 21st century, I look less like I stepped from the pages of a rugged male magazine and more like something a John Deere tiller belched and shucked.

That’s okay, though. Donna watches HGTV and knows how to fashion me into a handsome planter among a nosegay of hibiscus. I get lots of nice comments everywhere I go, except I find my style to be easier to maintain when I avoid the near-sighted product testers in Wal-Mart’s garden center on Fertilizer Sampler Day.

Photo: Donna peeps into every top-loading washer.In her spare moments at Washy Wash and Possible Stale Snax in Yet Another Threatening Machine™, Donna annoyed a few locals with what appeared to be her intrusive peep-eyes at those strangers’ laundry (see photo). She’d march up and down the aisles, raising the lid on each top-loader washer while humming “Pop Goes the Weasel.” We never mention her Jack-in-the-box compulsion.

As our clothes whirled and gurgled their debris and perspiration down the drain, I devised strategies to put my slice of the good Lord’s afternoon to high pursuits and bounty.

Photo: Mike follows the griping adventures of towels in a dryer.I couldn’t help but notice I got clearer reception on the ax-murderer-acting-all-ferrety-by-the-emergency-exit’s stolen motel towels than I get at home on Turner Classic Movies.

When host Robert Osborne didn’t appear at the end of the fluff cycle to tell me what I had just watched and how it related to C.B. DeMille, Miss Edith Head, and the fresh late Ann Miller, I paraded around the premises of this allegorical Ship of Suds, glad-handing and introducing myself to ye weary, fellow travelers.

“How do, Matey, awash your swabs and swaddling clothes,” I hailed with my lazy eye shut for grins. “I’m an All Free Clear Stainlifters Allergen Fighter myself. The li’l noble lady espouses Tide FREE of Perfumes and Dyes. You, sir, you no doubt be an Ultra Clorox2 for Colors man. Stain Lifting Action and Brighter Colors!”

Amazingly, more than one soul responded, “Move it, Chumwhiff,” we-uns gonna gits me a Spwite.”

I spent much of my wash-n-dry purgatory in the casino, playing the slots.

Photo: Mike inserts a dollar into a slot machine.Photo: Mike scores four more quarters!

I was on a streak! I won every time.

Our interminable damnation and rinse at the coin laundry crawled to an end, although we’re still bickering over the motive. I say we ran out of quarters. Donna cites a waning desire to endure more Univision.

Such a shame, because they were funnin’ a review of that hit new movie, “Titanic,” with a man in a fright wig and comedy goggles reading goofy nutty wacky zany gags off cards. I laughed ‘til I got myself elsewhere, finding an hour of amusement impersonating a harmonica on a lint trap. I was pretty good, too, only stopping to spit brassiere fuzz during my “Petticoat Junction” medley.

We strolled hand-on-basket-in-hand back to the dorm to cram for the Poli-Sci pop quiz and eat pizzas. Next week, spring break!

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