I hate going to the laundromat. I hate it passionately. There is nothing that makes me and my failings feel quite so exposed as having to drag my dirty laundry to a public laundromat and sit there for two hours contemplating my sins.
For a couple of really bad years, I didn't go at all. When all the sheets got too awful, I slept on the mattress pad, and then the bare mattress itself. I did this for so long, the coils in the mattress actually started coming through the top. The pillows turned brown without pillowcases. In the winter, I huddled under a pile of blankets and quilts like a ragpicker. Retrieved for cold weather, the grimy mattress pad kept creeping off the mattress and letting the steel springs poke me. It was all horribly uncomfortable, but compared to my fear of the laundromat, it didn't seem like a real hardship at the time.
Eventually my therapy kicked in to a point where I realized I quite enjoy having fresh-smelling sheets, and clean clothes, at least enough to where I can force myself to go the the laundromat every three or four months. With four sets of sheets, that allows a once-a-month change, which may be disgraceful in normal homes, but is pretty high-class in Dogpatch.
But due to my various - er - quirks, I have a narrow window of time in which I can stand to venture out with my bags of dirty laundry. It must be a weekday mid-morning, to face the least amount of people possible at the laundromat during daylight, and the weather must not include an active snowfall, blowing snow, sleet, or anything approaching freezing rain. This being Vermont, that kind of weather prevails all winter, and winter lasts from October to May.
I stuffed all my dirty clothes into dirty pillowcases over a month ago, and they have been sitting around collecting dust ever since. I have done only a little hand-washing since Labor Day. I am down to a few last garments that are even older and more ripped than what I usually wear. The sheets on the bed have been there since before Halloween. I really kind of wanted to change them before Christmas arrives. It's a pretty good present.
It isn't a cheap one, either. Doing laundry in coin-operated washers seems staggeringly expensive to me these days, which increases my loathing for the whole process. At times, I've wondered if it wouldn't be cheaper to throw out the damn towels and sheets, and buy new ones (not that I'd do this, even if I could - it's just a wild fantasy). And if there's ever a way to get Americans to accept the dollar coin, it's to make them all depend on public laundromats. The washers and dryers still quaintly run on quarters. But they have a voracious appetite, and feeding in $4 or $5 per load takes time, forethought, and a fair amount of disposable income.
I know I should try, but I have been unable to find anything pleasant about the laundromat trip - not dragging the heavy bags hither and thither, nor feeding the washers their pounds of quarters, nor the interminable wait through all the cycles of spinning wet to dry, filthy to fresh. Back at Dogpatch, I must find places to stow everything away before it is covered with animal hair again. It's only later - getting into bed, or putting on clean things after a rare shower, that it seems worth the effort and expense.
We've had bad weather for days. Tomorrow I have to go forage for pet food and cat litter, because I can't deal with the big grocery store on the day before Christmas. So the only way I can have clean clothes for Christmas is to go to the laundromat the day after that. I don't know if going to the laundromat on Christmas Eve is going to be better, worse or the same awful it always is.
You can keep your sugarplums. I want clean flannel sheets, a washcloth that doesn't stand up by itself, a sweat-free shirt, maybe even a pair of matched socks.
If only Santa Claus had a wash and fold service.
UPDATE: I was so sure I was going to the laundromat on Christmas Eve, until the wretched weather service had to butt in and give me a winter weather advisory that extends all the way into Christmas, involving snow, sleet, freezing rain, and high wind. Pshh. But I have lots of dog and cat food now, and I really would have done it, with your encouragement, and I thank you all. Merry Christmas!