laundry sign

The picture on the screen freezes and the sound disappears – perfect digital picture one moment, silenced digital seizure the next.

I slap the TV.

“No,” I say.

I check the cable. It’s fine. I rotate the TV right, then left, as if that’s gonna work.

“What’s the matter, dad?” Edwin says.

I look around at the woman drying her clothes. It doesn’t take a detective. She squints as I approach.

“Can you…um…?” I point to the dryer.

She gestures to her outfit, which consists of khaki shorts and a sheer tank top.
“This is all I have left to wear,” she says, “and I’m leaving tomorrow at 6 a.m.”

“Can we just check, please?” I say.

Reluctantly, she turns off the dryer. The TV is fine again.

I grumble the word seriously under my breath.

The woman puffs out her chest in defiance. “I am going to dry these clothes,” she announces, “and I’m not waiting until after your game to do it.”

I smile. “So what’s your name, dear?” I say, extending my hand. “Mine is Doug.”

She smiles. “I’m Laura,” she says, shaking my hand. “You know…trying to personalize this moment isn’t going to work.”

I change strategy, immediately shifting my tone from amiable to business-like.

“OK, Laura, what’s it gonna take?” I say. “Money? Canned goods?”

“Clean clothes,” she says.

Beyond Laura’s left shoulder, sitting on the dryer in question, Patch grins.

“Well this is quite a pickle,” he says. “A real battle of the sexes… sports versus housework.”

I ignore him and stay fixed on Laura.

“OK, what if I…do your laundry for you?” I say. “As soon as the game is over, I’ll start up the dryer.”

“I told you, I’m leaving at 6 a.m.,” Laura says.

“I’ll even fold it and bring it to you,” I say. “You show me the location of your campsite, and I’ll bring it there. It’ll be waiting for you when you wake up.”

Laura looks skeptical. So does Patch.

Really?” Patch says. “That’s what you came up with?”

“I want collateral,” Laura says.

I take out my wallet.

“No,” she says, pointing to my head. “That.

I remove my Celtics cap. “This?” I say.

She nods.

Patch leans forward, riveted.

“This old thing?” I say, holding the edge of the hat between my thumb and forefinger like it’s a dirty diaper. Laura sees through my act.

“Yes, that old thing,” she says.

I have to hand it to Laura. She knows how to play ball. The hat is my favorite – fitted, green shamrock front and back, and printed around the edge of the brim are the years of each Celtics championship – 17 in all. I will not leave this campground without it, and she knows it.

I hand over my hat.

Patch covers his good eye, unable to stomach my emasculation.


Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate, Chapter 2: Two e-mails, Chapter 3: Pattern, Chapter 4: Shattered, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee, Chapter 6: Suicide, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers, Chapter 9: June, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no, Chapter 11: DNA, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin, Chapter 14: Game 1, Chapter 15: Who the H is John Havlicek?, Chapters 16 - 17, Chapter 18: Game 2: Great White, Chapter 19: Pickle, Chapter 20: Marty McFly

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Blogger Feeling Freshie said...
If I were Laura, I would have picked the hat over the clothes. My, is that hat a collector's item?

Blogger Rhett said...
i read this every day. I'm really enjoying it. If the lockout runs onto the season i will be clamoring for installments of your other stories.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
dude don't the celts only have 17 titles?

Blogger John said...
But why's taking off the hat so emasculating?

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Anon - Freud was right. 17. How pathetic is the sway my subconscious holds over me? Fixed it.

Thanks for catching my inability to accept reality....

Blogger Evil Ted said...
WitnessProtection - Well, in a "confrontion" that Patch has defined as man v. woman, the "compromise" is Doug doing this woman's laundry, taking it to her tent, and giving her his hat, or the "crown" that identifies his loyalty. Sure, he gets to watch his game (or does he?), but he does have to endure a virtual castration of sorts...

In the world of hyperbolic comedy, I think "emasculation" is a fair term.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Laura - Not a collector's item...but I don't see it on maybe someday.

It appears in briefly in my Larryland video:

and for a longer period in the outtakes:

Anonymous yodie_b said...
this is a pretty sweet substitute for this annoying strike,and also for my Celtics addiction (and you bleeding green of course makes it a whole lot better). can't wait for the next chapter..