We pushed our way through the crowded laundry mat, on our way to make the long hard climb up a small mountain of wet clothes.
Our laundry mat of choice is Laundry World . We just like the sound of it. It always reminds me of the last episode of Lost in Space , where Dr. Smith and Will sell the Robot to this freak called the Junk Man, on a world covered in trash. (Um, no, why...do you think it's odd that I can tell you what the last episode of Lost in Space actually is?) Oh, also, we like the shiny plastic cards that you operate the machines with. It's all so space age.
I was surprised to see how busy the place was on a work day. The place was crammed with immigrant women and small children. One Spanish woman had brought along three kids, and was busy talking to a friend at one end of the store, while her kids were at the other end. They had each claimed a metal laundry cart as their own and were busy playing a game of tag. I watched them scuttle across the room like crabs, gripping the sides of the dryers to gain some leverage, and then pushing themselves forward, squealing loudly, hoping to shoot toward their opponents.
Suddenly, the Spanish lady whistled, and the kids climbed out of the carts. Noisy crashes and shouts were replaced in seconds by silence.
We packed up our wet clothes into our own laundry carts and surveyed the room as if it were the scene of battle, and we were looking to stake our conquest. Our goal was to find four dryers located next to each other.
"Over there." Corb nodded and pointed down the aisle were in. A woman with stringy black hair was at the end, busily folding socks, right in front of four empty dryers. With our mission in sight, we pushed our carts loaded with wet clothes forward.
Two of the dryers were located in the corner, parallel to a vending machine. Too late, I discovered that the lady had placed her laundry cart up against the machine, into a litle alcove that hid her wet underclothes from public view. One side of each cart possessed a long metal pole that thrust up into the air, for hanging clothes, which she had adorned, like a may pole, with a variety of colorful bra straps, making this corner of the room look like a miniature version of Hogs and Heifers.
I tried to avoid contact with the bra cart, and opened the door to the bottom dryer in the corner. It wouldn't open all the way, however. I was flustered, at a loss. I felt afraid to touch the cart, or push it past the vending machine, hesitant to expose her multicolored D-cups to the world.
"Just open it up and throw the clothes in," said Corb impatiently.
"Uhhh...well...there's a little problem with that..." I looked over to the woman for help, but she seemed to be mesmerized by the task of matching socks, and oblivious to my predicament.
"Here, take this one," said Corb, and pushed his way past the lady. He located another free dryer, which she was standing directly in front of. "Hey, do you mind if I use this dryer, please?" he said firmly. She looked up and glared at him, offended that he was daring to invade her space.
That night, we drove to Corb's work. My friend Pauline was spending two nights at the hotel, thanks to Corb, and had invited us to take the kids to swim.
"Tiger, do you have your seatbelt on?" I asked, turning around to stare at my little guy, who clearly didn't.
"My legs are hurting me, so I'm lying down," he replied.
"How are you going to be able to swim, if your legs are hurting you so much?" I asked, grinning.
But Tiger had it all figured out. "I'll just use my arms to push my legs forward."
"That's my little FDR," I cooed.
Corb opened up his sun roof and stuck his fingers outside. The air felt cool and refreshing. "Just look at the stars out," he said, and I felt like hugging him.
Oh, and there was one other important thing that happened this week (as if I've said anything important at all, so far). My oldest was proposed to on Christmas eve.
Since she's only nineteen, both Josie and I were somewhat taken aback, and it's not as though Annie's guy, Chad, asked us for permission or anything. I found out about it on Christmas day (allegedly, although Josie had actually told me a few days before that), as we were doing our traditional Santa present hunt. He took me aside for a few minutes and showed me the ring.
"But I don't know when to tell her," he confessed.
By the next time I saw them, in Target, he had discovered the right time. Only I didn't notice. After we left them, Corb pointed out that she had a ring on her finger. I never notice those things.
I ran back to where we had left them, and they were still walking about. "Annie!" I called out, and moved over to her. "Let me hold your hands, sweetie!" I grabbed her hands, and squeezed them, and she blushed. "Oh! These fingers...they seem bulky and...is that a new ring that you have on your finger? What a surprise!"
Annie giggled. "Daddy, I feel like my face is so red," she complained.
So we hugged, and I made her promise not to get married for a good long time, because I don't want to think about the bill, just yet. She's my little girl (and always will be), and I love her to pieces.