The washing machine has been broken for about six months (Wait! Keep reading: There's a possible celebrity in this). I think a diatribe on the whole washing machine thing in this house as a metaphor for my state of hausfraudom in 2007 may be worth exploring, but for now, it’s just about the Laundromat. Or laundrymat. I don’t know which is the correct word. I willfully do not want to know the correct word, anymore than I want to understand the mechanisms of trailer hook-ups, do-it-yourself dentistry, automobile repossession or which of Dante’s rings await people with credit scores below 600.
Again, Microsoft Word shatters my illusions. Above, Microsoft Word has automatically capitalized “Laundromat” (there: did it again!) and underlined with a squiggly red line the word “laundrymat”. (Yes, I write these in Word first). No going back. Now I know: “Laundromat” is a proper noun and “laundrymat” is not a word. No longer upper-middle class. Just like that, I want to compensate for a youth misspent with hair accessories and deep frying.
At any rate, if you can’t afford an exotic getaway, the Laundromat is a pretty good adventure. As in a foreign country, you will avoid eye contact, you will be wary of disease, you will seek refuge in an expensive hotel (this metaphor is a bit stretched, but here I mean the stainless steel three- and four-load washers. The yearning huddled masses, surely, cannot afford to toss their tempest in the four-load washers). In the Laundromat--yes, in the Laundromat--your sense of awareness will be heightened. At least until the spin cycle.
Look at this: This bright yellow gum ball dispenser chained to the wall. It says "Skittles". It looks like it would skittle away if it weren't for the chain. I think it is tired and resentful of having to stand on this corner, saying “Hey, Mister, want a gumball? Only $.25, I’ll give you what you want.” Only to have it’s sugar daddy come and take away all the money it’s earned and give it to the smug change machine.
While I am struggling to find parallels between this yellow thing and the oldest profession and even money laundering (just too tempting), here come in two fools. One clearly is or wants to be a filmmaker. He comes complete with army jacket and pony tail. The other clearly is or wants to be Christopher Masterson. At least he is a dead ringer for the man. Maybe he is Christopher Masterson. This is Los Angeles. Just like any strange light in the New Mexico desert night sky could be a Close Encounter, anybody who looks like a sit com celebrity could very well be a sit com celebrity. If this person is not Christopher Masterson, then he should probably go ahead and study for his real estate license. We already have Christopher Masterson. That whole face, that hair, that smirk—dude, all taken. Sorry, pal.
So this “filmmaker” and this “Christopher Masterson” have this whole little scene they are filming not three feet away from a transient woman with arms folded and head tilted sleeping in a plastic chair. “Christopher Masterson”, in this contribution to modern cinema, is clearly frustrated. His frustration is somehow connected to a toy owl. He tosses the stuffed animal owl into a dryer (the toy is dry, by the way) and slams the door, which completely startles the transient woman in the plastic chair from her calm sleep. Yeah, like that: The old woman has that whole eyes-popping-out-of-her-head look. (Um, is “stuffed animal” still politically correct? I think the more correct term is “plush toy”? Names have power. Was it animals or toys who protested the terminology?).
Just as the transient woman (not an actor) settles back into her tiny bit of bliss of sleep, “Christoph Masterson” digs deep into his Method acting and improvises by grabbing an abandoned newspaper, tearing it to shreds, and slamming the scraps on the counter--again shocking the elderly woman from her rest (seriously, can't just you move your Sturm und Drang to the other wall of dryers?). All of this, to me, is much more tragic comic than anything the “filmmaker” is trying to capture while he is filming footage of the dry plush toy going ‘round and ‘round and ‘round in the dryer. Fade to black.