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  • The laundry guy shows up at the Rock N Roll Camp for Girls LA Showcase because he hasn't just been casing my laundry. He's obviously been on the Facebook. Facial recognition.

    One time as I was dragging in the organic melee of mold, urine, toe cheese, dried blood, wine, poop stains, floor dirt, fossil fuels, onion peels and spent tomato seeds steamily composting inside their various duffles, I said to him, You look so dapper today! He had mastered the art of hipster dressing with his almost un-ironed plaid shirt sticking out of just one corner of his rolled up Levi's - the left corner - and unbuttoned just one button from the top to reveal a bleached white Hanes t-shirt. His 3-inch jean cuffs sat above a pair of black high-top Chuck Taylors and were cinched by a black leather belt mildly peppered with tiny silver studs. He had assimilated except for a mild accent adorning a fairly solid conversational English. I guessed him to be Korean. Why thank you, he smiled, and nodded with his tweed fedora tilted. He was a sight for sore eyes, after loading the battle stains and smells of time spent mostly scraping the rent off marble floors and into overflowing reusable bags and onto a bike trailer.

    The socks always come back right side out, and paired, and sorted with the other pairs of socks. The socks who lost their real partners are always paired with the next closest partnerless matches. The underwear goes in unabashedly, crusted with various bodily fluids, and comes out barely dulled from the color it was in the store, almost new, and separated from the rows of jeans and pants, the neat folds of what can loosely be described as dress shirts which will seek hangers, the stacks of long-sleeve shirts, and the short-sleeve t-shirts, almost always sporting the artwork of a cause I have physically and resourcefully contributed to - many of which were Rock N Roll Camps for Girls. Maybe Facebook and facial recognition are not necessary when you are in the laundry business. Maybe you just need an imagination, and a good sense of sight and smell. Maybe you just need to be fully conscious.

    Sometimes people tidy their houses before another person cleans them, as a trail of instruction crumbs for the real, intuitive cleaner. My ex-husband preferred to have me pretend not to clean the house, and if not, for the house to remain an austere and tranquilly infertile mixture of pinball machines and tiny pots of spent rice and beans with tomatoes and potatoes, oatmeal with bananas, raisins and maple syrup, bowls which had held fresh fruit and non-fat yogurt, and two forks, left "soaking," papers and books and DVDs and zombie comics and scripts strewn everywhere, the toilet lined with a yellow film, the windows closed, doors locked, and walls sparsely peppered with push-pinned posters and keepsakes, and the floor decorated with corner catches of dustballs, dog dander, and human hair. I wondered if those who tidied before the ringer came in also "soaked" their laundry before his dapper self, the laundry guy, was charged with laying hands on it. The sight of him inspired protectiveness in me. I wanted to offer his dapperness a hazmat suit, or a job as a socialite or A&R rep or restaurant critic, or just drag everything back out, pack it up and admit to stupidity, excess and laziness, like people who want to "help" after earthquakes, only to discover that they require more resources than the victims in order to feel human.

    I wish I could trust men again enough to sleep with them. I wish they didn't have to be "men," but just beings. I would like to be a being. I would like to fold the cotton and pair the socks and iron the collars and cuff the jeans and scrub the train tracks of someone who wants to fold my cotton and pair my socks and iron my shirt and cuff my jeans and deal with my dirty underwear - help me make it clean. But I was conditioned early on to avoid accents. And now I am being reconditioned to avoid assimilation and perpetuation and micro-aggression. Trying too hard. God forbid someone smell you and start tracking you - that would be trying too hard. And in a dystopia of alienation, you can smell trying too hard from a mile away. So when I see him in his tweed fedora and cuffed jeans sitting alone at a corner bar table in a room full of lesbians helping young girls to rock, I pretend his dapperness didn't deal with my dirty underwear. I turn around, and cheer and clap to the music, afraid to partner with the next closest partnerless match. My sock drawer has been pretty full on average, over the years. I turn back around when I think it's safe, and he is gone.
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