Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Great Laundry Fiasco

I have never met my neighbors from across the hall, but I know about them.

I know they moved in one month after we did. I know they are both pastry chefs at the very prestigious restaurant of a very prestigious CELEBRITY CHEF.

I know they come home from their pastry-chef jobs in the wee hours of the morning, and I know that I’ve never seen them during the day.

I know that sometimes there are really great smells of baked goods wafting out from under their door, across the dingy hallway, and into our 350 sq foot apartment, where the only smell since spiceboy left town on spicebusiness two weeks ago is that of a honeydew-scented candle that I light in the bathroom to keep it from smelling musty.

spiceboy and I often entertain fantasies in which we become good friends with our pastry chef neighbors, and that as a result of this friendship, they will not only invite us over to sample their homemade pastries, but they will also pull strings to get us an 8pm reservation on a Saturday night at their exclusive CELEBRITY CHEF’s restaurant and put us on the VIP list and give us freebies on the $350 per person tasting menu.

Some couples fantasize about winning the lottery and never having to work again. We fantasize about eating the most fabulous meals in the world. If you ask me, our fantasy is much more attainable than most couples’. Or it was.

Until Saturday.

You see, I was struggling to haul two gigantic sacks of laundry out of my apartment without further injuring my gimpy foot when the door across the hall swung open, revealing a pretty Japanese girl with a kind smile. Presumably one of the pastry chefs. She carried with her a single, dainty bag of laundry, and her eyes widened at the sight of my two behemoth bags. I guess pastry chefs don’t generate many dirty clothes.

We made eye contact, smiled, and made the kind of quick yet friendly introductions that new neighbors make in the hallway when they’re on their way to somewhere. Then she was gone, gracefully descending the 48 steep steps to the street with her single, dainty bag of laundry.

I was thrilled. Okay, so maybe we weren’t exactly BFF yet, but “hello” was a start. I could hardly wait to call spiceboy and tell him that while he was away on his spicebusiness, I had made taken the critical first steps toward seeing our food fantasy realized.

I clunked-clunked my way down the 48 steep steps with my two huge bags of laundry, my bulky cast swaddled in its hideous Velcro surgical shoe, and what I swear is a 20-gallon jug of Tide that spiceboy apparently bought on sale, not thinking what an absolute PAIN IN THE ASS it is to negotiate the stairs when you’ve got a 20 gallon jug of detergent, 2 huge bags of laundry, and a gimpy foot.

It was pouring outside, and as I hobbled over to the laundry, I nearly lost purchase on the slippery sidewalk, thus receiving the first clue that my lovely Velcro surgical shoe doesn’t have a whole helluva lot of traction on slick surfaces. But I ignored it and pushed on at a brisk pace. Well, brisk for a girl with a gimpy foot, two huge bags of laundry, and a 20-gallon jug of Tide.

There were two or three steps leading down to the laundry from the street, and I made my way down them quite smoothly—gracefully even. Well, graceful for a girl with a gimpy foot, 2 huge bags of laundry, and a 20-gallon jug of Tide.

I was congratulating myself on getting down the steps accident free when I stepped forward onto the wet linoleum floor with my wet surgical shoe. What happened next is mostly a blur, but I’ll try to recreate it below. As you read on, please keep in mind that while all of this was happening, an unsuspecting woman was bent over, placing clothes into one of the large, front-loading washing machines, totally unaware of my pending wipeout. So:

1. My gimpy foot hit the slippery floor and slid out from under me.
2. I flailed my arms for balance, dropping one huge bag of laundry and the 20 gallon jug of Tide
3. The handles of the second huge bag of laundry were twisted around my palm, and as my arms flailed, the bag flailed along with them.
4. The woman loading her laundry into the machine stood up, and my huge flailing laundry bag clocked her in the side of her head, causing her to cry out in alarm and stumble backwards.
5. I was completely mortified.

After regaining my footing (and miraculously not wiping out on the floor), I turned and began apologizing profusely to the woman, who was kind of huddled against her washing machine, looking irritated.

The woman was my pastry chef neighbor.

Her shiny hair was mussed from the unexpected contact with my huge laundry bag, and she had a frozen-looking smile on her face. She accepted my apologies, but she didn’t look pleased about it.

As I gathered up the scattered pieces of my laundry and my pride from the wet floor, I could feel her scornful eyes on me, and I realized that as a result of my clumsy actions, I had probably just ruined any and all chances of making the CELEBRITY CHEF food fantasy a reality. I was now labeled as the clumsy neighbor. I was merely a loser with too much laundry, a pariah with a gimpy foot. My credibility was totally shot.

The fate of our food fantasy now lies in the hands of but one man: spiceboy.

It's all up to you, babe. Hurry home.


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