30 May 2015

Mr. Stadium

It is 12:35 am at the Mr. Stadium laundromat on South Industrial.  I am in the same space as five other human beings.  I assume they are here merely doing laundry.  I assume they still cling to life, still believe *things will get better.*  That is the faith of the Age.  That is why most people don't quit living.  They believe, with all their hearts, *things will get better.*

Mr. Stadium is not a particularly clean place--but it is well-lit.  In the darkness of the midnight hour, it is well-lit, and there is a soothing drone about the place.  Everyone quietly waiting to fold what will be their superficially clean soiled garments while the washers whirr through the spin cycles and the dryers tumble and hum and the big screen TV mumbles on low.

Every now and then, while driving, I will see an old sock or a ragged t-shirt or some piece of tattered clothing laying in the street.  How did it get there, I will wonder?  Did someone finally hear God?  Who told thee that thou wast naked?  When we strip ourselves of our dirty rags, physical and behavioral, we begin the long trek back to God.  Like Francis of Assisi.  When he quit trying, when he quit bothering with *things* to do, when he quit living as most of his world lived, he stripped off his clothes and began the long trek back to God.

But, anyway, there are five other people here.  Oh, and the attendant.

The attendant is an interesting-looking fellow.  He appears to be around sixty years old.  He wears gray work trousers, a white long sleeve button shirt and a brown plaid fedora, the clothing worn and dull.  He empties the trash, arranges the laundry carts, changes the TV channel.  I wish I had his job.  An agreeable way to pass the time: midnight attendant at the 24 hour laundromat.  Peace and quiet.  A few simple chores.  In the dead of night.  In the dead of night.  Almost like being the last man on earth.  What could be better?

Time to load the wet laundry in the dryer.  A chat show on the big flat screen. I don't know who the host is. They've all changed. Letterman was the last one I knew.  Anyway, the chat show host is interviewing a fresh-faced blonde with a hillbilly accent.  She’s wearing a short black skirt.  She has nice legs.  That’s about as much as anyone can do in this life.

There are five other people here (six, if you include the attendant), all young except for a middle-aged Mexican guy in a faded fake Detroit Lions jersey.

The clothes are in the dryer.  I look around.  I feel restless.  The weight of the empty hours.  There's a bulletin board by the vending machines.  I wander over, get some candy, and read the tacked flyers, notes, ads.  Bikes for sale, carry out food coupons, tailoring service, Spanish tutor, babysitter, handyman.  As I pop a green Peanut M&M in my mouth, I study one particular flyer:

THE APOSTLE SEÁN RAY
Prophet of the Eternal Light
Holding Services in the True Faith of the Messiah Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Every other Sunday at Noon PM
Fellowship Room C in the Northside Presbyterian Church, 1679 Broadway Street
[Donations for Room Rental Encouraged by the Holy Spirit]
AND SUDDENLY! God’s Kingdom is upon You
Your Ignorance will no Longer be Winked at!

Hmmn.  An apostle and a prophet.  Well, the world is in short supply of both.

Your Ignorance will no Longer be Winked at!  Paul at Mars Hill proclaiming the unknown God.  The unknown God.  It suits our Age.  Maybe I will go and hear what this babbler has to say.

One thing: how would I know if this Sunday is an *Every other Sunday?*

I feel restless. I look around.

The attendant is sitting behind a small counter area.  Just sitting there.  Not looking at the television.  Not reading anything.  Not doing anything.  Just sitting there.  I wonder what he is thinking?

I feel restless.  The weight of the empty hours.

I toss the candy wrapper in the trash, walk over to the little cubby hole where the attendant is.

"Is this a good place to work?" I ask.

He looks up at me, his face a blank.

"This seems like it would be a decent place to work.  Are they hiring?"

He looks straight ahead.

"Maybe," he says.

"I don't know," he says.

"Am I still sitting here?" he says, all in an ancient monotone, while staring vacantly at the air in front of him.

If I live to his age, say another ten or so years, I'll probably have a face like his.  The face of an obsolete automaton.

I look around.

"This seems like a peaceful place.  A place where a man could do a lot of serious thinking."

A slight nod of the head.  I don't know if the attendant is agreeing with me, or dozing off. 

A woman is piling clothes from a dryer into a laundry cart.  She's maybe thirty.  Overweight.  And dumpy.  Not grossly fat, but overweight.  Five two or so, 140, 150. She's wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt.  The sweatshirt has a pink bear on the front.  She has greasy hair.  Greasy brown hair.  I see a pair of panties in the laundry cart.  White, with pink hearts.  I have a vision of her standing in some shabby bedroom, the waistband of her panties stretched into a concave around her bulging midsection, her arms folded across her fat saggy breasts, a look of shame on her otherwise unremarkable face.  I look at the attendant.  I look at the attendant because I want to end the vision before the abomination of desolation is complete.  The attendant is just sitting there, as he was, just sitting there.

"I bet you see a lot of strange things here," I say to the attendant.

Another slight nod.

"What's the strangest thing you've ever seen?"

He reaches under the counter, places a small tarnished silver figurine on top.  It's a frog.  A two inch frog with three heads and one giant erect penis.

"Found it in a dryer."

We study it in silence.

"Nobody ever come back for it."

I think about that for a moment.  Somewhere, a shelf somewhere, sits a lonely three headed frog with a huge gaping vagina. . .

"Thanks for sharing," I say to the attendant.  Another slight nod as he resumes just sitting there. 

I take a seat by the dryer, wait for my clothes.  It's been a good night. . .

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