Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Thong Remains the Same

What is the proper laundromat etiquette?

More specifically, what is laundromat etiquette when a thong hits the floor, hot from the dryer, and the owner doesn't notice?

This happened this evening and I was speechless.

"Um," I thought, as I espied the saucy red and black lace thong on the floor, equidistant between two women.

It was the elephant in the room. At least three other men noticed, but averted their eyes, as if staring might burn their retinas.

I couldn't keep silent. I was folding at a table, facing one of the suspects. Between the two, the woman I faced seemed the more likely owner of this scanty undergarment. Normally, the laundromat Samaritan will retrieve the item from the floor, the sock, say, and proffer it to the launderer. Not me. I couldn't even mention it by name.

"Excuse me," I mumbled, "Is that [gesturing generally] yours?" The other suspect had her back to us, stuffing laundry from the dryer into a canvas bag.

She raised her eyebrows and, almost amazed that I had dared even mention it, said "Oh no! That's not mine." She stressed the word "mine" in an attempt to add meaning to the word, indicating she never wore such contraptions, nor would she ever, no matter how much she were offered by a strange man in a laundromat.

Slightly embarrassed, I chuckled and said "Well, it's certainly not mine!" I was going for the laugh but just accepted the pity-chuckle.

"Now," I thought, "it has to be the other woman's". She was older, a little scary-looking. I decided that my laundromat-samaritanism had reached maximum density, and that if the thong was meant to be with the woman, she would see it, or come back for it.

She was packing up, walking away, the thong remaining on the floor like a naughty abandoned kitten.

My daughter approached. "Jolee," I commanded, "go tell that lady [gesturing to the woman approaching the exit] that she dropped that [gesturing to the thing]."

I might as well have told her to kiss every boy in school. "No, Dad," she snorted, "That's gross!"

Silence, punctuated by the humming of the driers.

It was beyond the point of doing anything drastic. Even if I picked up the frilly thong and walked it to the woman leaving the laundromat, she may deny it was hers just to avoid embarrassment. Perhaps that was what the first woman did.

It sat there. For a second I, let me rephrase, for a mili-second I thought of adopting the item, bringing it home and photographing it for BillyBlog, but then it would turn into Pandora's thong, if you know what I mean. Nothing good would have come of that.

So I did what any self-respecting laundromat patron would have done. I reached into an almost-empty dryer, took out the sole item, a used fabric softener sheet, utilized it to assist me in picking up the thong, like a wayward turd on the sidewalk, and dropped it into an empty laundromat cart.

When I left with the laundry ten minutes later, it was still there, at the bottom of the cart, a red and black lace remnant of another day, alone and forgotten, abandoned, I am sure, like many thongs before, and many more to come.

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