Until recently I was convinced I had adulthood figured out. This is because I had a foolproof plan for laundry—or more so to avoid laundry (because the key to adulthood is laundry). It was like this: every other time I was getting close to needing to wash a load, I would just buy more underwear, thus incrementally increasing the number of days I could go without doing laundry. It was brilliant.
Or at least it was brilliant until last weekend when I made my Sunday pilgrimage to Get the Funk Out—the friendly neighborhood laundromat. I prefer to walk directly across the street and pay twice as much to use the machines there because using the washer/dryers in my building would mean two things:
a) saying many tiny prayers that the machines are actually free and available for use. Eighteen 2-bedroom apartments sharing two washers and dryers are really abysmal odds.
b) saying another set of tiny prayers as I walk down the perilously small and steep back steps into our strange semi-outdoor, semi-subterranean basement/laundry/trash/bike zone. If I'm going to break an ankle I want it to be terribly dramatic and make a great story, not that I tripped while carrying an unwieldy bag of dirty laundry down some creepy stairs.
So I take my laundry business elsewhere. Also because I want to support wordplay (Get the Funk Out - like hellooooo?). On this particular Sunday it just so happened that every other person in the city of San Francisco also decided to do their laundry at Get the Funk Out. The sheer proximity of this laundromat to my apartment had lulled me into a (deluded) sense of ownership—as if I was the only person ever to use Get the Funk Out. After I shimmied past the strange proliferation of wheelie laundry carts that are always in the way but never actually being used, I start unloading and half-heartedly sorting my pounds of laundry. I say half-heartedly because towards the end I always start losing track of how I was sorting it in the first place and just try to make the washers look even. I wouldn't really recommend this method.
It's in the midst of maxing out my second washer that I realize I've run into trouble. The depths of my laundry basket are never ending. I keep reaching in and just pulling out more underwear. Like pairs I didn't even remember buying. It was like a magician reaching into his sleeve and pulling out that colorful strand of scarves that just keeps going and going and going and going, except this was my hamper and there was just more and more underwear at the bottom of it. I had reached the terminal velocity of my underwear purchasing. I had overdone it. I honestly would have used a third washer had it been available JUST FOR UNDERWEAR. Do you know how much underwear one person has to acquire before it becomes near-impossible to complete laundry in a single day? I do now. And it's an obscene amount.
By the grace of God I managed to surreptitiously cram all of my undergarments (plus normal amount of clothes) into into two washers (good thing I said all those tiny prayers earlier) against the warning of the "DO NOT OVERFILL MACHINE" signs posted everywhere. Pshhhhh, do I look like a laundry rookie to you?
And then I realize I didn't bring any quarters. Because I don't have any quarters. So I take the only bill out of my wallet (a $10) and go to the dreaded change machine. I hate the change machine. I hate it like I hate the garbage disposal, the blender, and the vacuum. They're all too much noise. Do you know how many quarters it takes to make $10? A fuck load. Do you know how long it takes to dispense a fuck load of quarters from the change machine? Me neither but it felt like 4 minutes of CLANGING AND CLANGING in the silent laundry monastery that is Get the Funk Out. At this point I'm willing to admit I looked like a laundry rookie.
I take my cupped handfuls of quarters (because $10 of quarters is too much for me to even carry in a single hand!) back to my stupid, basically overflowing washing machines and proceed as planned. I return to the washers 40 minutes later and feel nearly elated to see that there aren't suds pouring out of my machines nor is there a small motor fire that needs addressing. A laundry miracle you could say (this laundry experience had really taken a religious turn).
The truest moment of shame came when I had to carry my washer contents to and from the dryer multiple times and proceeded to drop at least 10 pairs of underwear in front of the entire city of San Francisco congregated at the laundromat whilst doing so. For a person who owns that much underwear, my tolerance for embarrassment is very low.
In summation, it turns out that there is such a thing as too much underwear (I know, I am shocked about this too). And that buying more underwear to avoid laundry doesn't mean that I will ultimately never have to do laundry again. In fact it means that when I do get around to doing laundry, it will be torturous. However, I've formulated this handy equation to help you if you find yourself nearing the underwear abyss: if (time + energy) x embarassment is less than the number of pairs of underwear you have, STOP BUYING MORE.