Come and knock on my door (but bring your kitchen scrubber)
I haven’t blogged for a while because truthfully, I haven’t been feeling all that funny lately and haven’t had one of those “I can’t wait to blog about this!” moments I’ve generally had about 5 times a day since I started writing this. But I live in this quirky building downtown and after getting to know some of the people in the building and hearing some of the interesting, odd and moving stories about people that have come and gone over the years, I realized that this building’s having kind of a funny effect on me. Not so much “funny ha-ha”, more like “Funny-makes-you-think”. And that’s how Stella got her blog back.
So until I’m motivated to blog otherwise, I’ll be acquainting you with a few of my fascinating, wonderful, quirky neighbors and city-livin’ as I know it in my new building. As always, names have been changed to protect the innocent parties completely oblivious to the fact that I’m soaking up every detail of their interesting personalities like a curious sponge.
Joanna is an outspoken woman in her mid to late 60s. She owns some sort of high-end retail boutique in Hayes Valley and has traveled all over the world selecting clothing, furniture and home accessories fit for the celebrities and very wealthy that shop in her store. I love Joanna. She doesn’t mince words and sometimes being on the receiving end of her bluntness can be a little off-putting but because her intentions are good, you just can’t help but like her.
Joanna recently schooled me on doing laundry in our basement Laundromat. She noticed I was using a couple of dryers that apparently produce condensation due to “poor implementation by the lazy installing company”. She was appalled that I’d not only used this dryer but that I’d actually – gasp! – washed and dried my “delicates” (the old school term for panties and bras) in public machines. She was equally appalled that I was using hypoallergenic All on all my clothing but most especially on my delicates. According to Joanna, the people in advertising have been perpetuating a 75ish+ year hoax on consumers by making them think they need the harsh chemicals found in the Alls, Tides, Cheers, etc of the world. Apparently only trash collectors, mechanics, machinists (?) and other such boorish professions need the harshness found in these detergents. Not a sweet, young freelancing flower like me.
No, what I needed to do was hand wash my delicates –actually all my clothing - in good old-fashioned Ivory Snow. Didn’t I understand how much unidentified hair was in these machines? How she’d once found a used condomstuck to the side of a washer? (“And, honey, there was still stuff in it. You know..STUFF!”) How me putting my clean clothes in the condensation filled dryer was like putting them in a heated, germy Petri dish? I was agog. I envisioned the Summers-Eve like conversation between mothers and daughters that I’d clearly missed somewhere along the line where mom and I walked arm in arm, laughing and talking in hushed tones about the proper way for me to cleanse my panties. I felt robbed. Thank goodness for Joanna.
Tonight I took a field trip to Walgreen’s where I bought bleach, ammonia, latex gloves and a special kitchen scrubber brush that would have a decidedly different mission during its sad little life than its name implied it should. I filled my tub with scalding hot water and bleach and let round 1 begin: the soaking of the whites. After about 45 minutes of this, I drained the tub, took my shower nozzle and hosed everything down and filled the tub up again and added my non-white delicates, this time with ammonia. I donned my latex gloves and used the kitchen brush to create washing machine-like agitation for about 5 minutes, then let them soak for about 15 minutes.
Somewhere during the agitation cycle, I realized that I’d forgotten to buy the recommended prescription of Ivory Snow and that ammonia and bleach as a pre-cursor to hypo-allergenic All were probably not the gentle cleansing that Joanna had intended when she recommended hand-washing. It was then I also realized I might be a tad bit OCD and possibly even a little bit insane. I got an image of Laura Ingalls (you may remember her as half-pint from “Little House on the Prairie”) washing clothes next to a babbling brook on a washing board and I started to laugh hysterically. What the fuck was I doing? HAND WASHING MY PANTIES. Yep. But if I’m hand washing delicates, by God, you better believe that my OCD-ass is gonna make sure these things are spic and fricking span. And I stopped laughing and started scrubbing... with the kitchen brush, for God’s sake. A kitchen brush, scrubbing the crotch of all my underwear. Oh, how far I’ve fallen. I wanted to laugh but how could I? No time for laughing! Pa will be here soon to take me back to the house where Mary and Ma are waiting for me to help with dinner! Mary’s blind, for God’s sake! Somebody has to roast the chickens that Ma killed this morning.
I drained the tub again, added another round of scalding water and a cap-full of hypo-allergenic All and began the agitation cycle again. I then scrubbed each individual piece within an inch of its mass-produced life and agitated again for about 5 minutes, drained the tub again (and determined at this point that I’m definitely losing it) and turned the shower nozzle on everything to rinse. I hung everything from my shower rod and the doorknobs in my tiny little studio. And started to laugh at the sight of it. Until I realized I needed to take a shower before bed. That’s right. In the dirty underwear tub. Oh dear. Clearly, more cleaning needed to happen.
So I left the gloves on, I filled the tub. Again. I added bleach and let it soak for 30 minutes or so. Then I drained and scrubbed with Comet cleanser. Nope, not clean enough. (I have no clue where this newfound cleanliness obsession suddenly came from). I rinsed and added straight ammonia to my sponge and scrubbed for a few minutes while my delicates hanging from the shower rod dripped on my head. In no time at all (! Insert happy-looking advertising housewife here) I had myself a sparkling tub, a little bit of a headache from all the fumes and – oh my holy shit, what the fuck is THAT?? DEFCON FIVE, people: ammonia/bleach water had infiltrated my right rubber glove. We have penetration, I repeat; WE HAVE PENETRATION. CUTICLES ARE DAMAGED. Mother fucker, wouldn’t you know it, I NEVER get manicures but I got one today to cheer myself up and now look. Ruined. $8 down the drain. Literally.
I collapsed on my bed and looked around my studio. I started to laugh again, this time at the thought of me ever bringing a man up to this little passion palace that I sub-lease from dear, wonderful BLH who just gave birth 2 months ago. I realized it’s a really good thing I’m single because tonight in my sub-leased studio, I’ve got panties and bras hanging from every available doorknob and hook, I’ve got a crib and bassinet in one corner, I’ve got breast-milk storage guidelines and lovingly-produced children’s art hanging on the fridge and a baby mobile hanging in my kitchen doorway. TOTALLY HOT, right?
So much for being delicate on my delicates.
This is the staircase in my building which was supposedly used in "Vertigo" (you can see why).