Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Beautiful Laundress

Sung to the tune of Dion's The Wanderer:

She's the kind of girl

Who washes clothes all night.

She's always very careful

To sort dark stuff from the white.

They call her the launderer, the launderer.

The clothes go round and round and round.

from a musical work in progress

Being homeless is starting to have an impact on my sweetie. Last night when we pulled into Port Fairy, we found that she had pulled off her usual booking magic and we were in a lovely two-bedroom place with a modern, well-equipped kitchen.

"Great," she said, "no need to eat out. Aren't we all missing home cooking?"

So Shirley and I did what you would expect us to do and told her we, too, were missing home cooking, and quite frankly when the corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots made it to the table we realized we really were.

Or at least I was, for like LK I have been living out of a suitcase for quite a long time now. In fact, the maths are a wee bit daunting. Since we left for the US last July, we have slept in our own bed only 98 nights compared to 150 nights at hotels and mooching off family and friends. By the time we actually get into our house in Tasmania, we will have spent more than 75% of the past year sleeping anywhere but the high, scary bed.

So perhaps it is understandable that Linda is feeling just a little nostalgic for the homely things that happen when you - well, when you have a home. Things like cooking.

And laundry.

It is safe to say that doing the laundry has become an obsession with my bride. Having a guest laundry is one of the primary requirements for every place she books. When she checks in, the first thing she does is determine whether the guest laundry is free or she has to dig into the sack of coins she now carries with her to every place we stay.

She practically dances in glee when there is A) a free B) in-room C) modern washer and dryer. I guess I can understand. Even I don't relish being in the small confines of our car with my week-old dirty underpants sitting in the backseat. But I think it's even more.

LK has decided that for our year as vagabonds we can travel like, well, vagabonds. I was allocated a couple of shorts, a few t-shirts and as many underpants as she could cram into the suitcase. Frankly, it doesn't take too long to run out of clean clothes.

Which is more or less what happened to us in Devonport last Friday. We'd stayed in hotels in Hobart and so no laundry had been done for about a week. Sockettes were completely gone, and I was resorting to pushing down my gym socks so as not to look dorky. Well, dorky from the shins down. There's nothing I can do for the top bits.

You may recall that the room I booked was absolute crap. My guess is that it had originally been used to house the worst prisoners in the early 1800s and once Internet bookings came along the hotel re-opened it figuring people like me wouldn't notice all the warnings, such as "This accommodation has no air conditioning." Or the ones they didn't list, such as "This accommodation sits right at the bottom of the stairs and drunk people will fall against your door throughout the evening."

LK hated the room. With a passion. But she did love the fact that there was a free laundry downstairs. She grabbed the washing machine late in the afternoon, and throughout the evening she would come to the room, take a sip of something amber and then bolt back downstairs clutching yet another bag of our dirty clothes.

Evidently there were lots of other guests trying to use the only washing machine, but LK had timed it so that she could get our next load in before anyone else got back in time. She even started lying to people, telling them she was waiting for the dryer to finish (which she was) but that someone else had just popped in and started a wash load.

Anyhow, no one figured out that she was essentially seizing a community asset all for herself - or if they did figure it out, they decided it wasn't worth the fight with a woman who was clearly acting a bit crazed about all this laundry stuff on a Friday night.

We ended up with all our clothes clean, and on the ferry back to the mainland it was a very smug wife of mine who sat back, smiled and quietly said, "I think we ended up in the worst room of the hotel. But I got $20 worth of laundry done, so it wasn't all bad."

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