I gathered my pounds of laundry and piled the socks, t-shirts, and towels that had been accumulating over the past several weeks into my “shopping” cart, which had actually been purchased for the sole purpose of transporting clothes to the basement. As I rolled the rubber wheeled cart into the living room, I stopped to pick up the detergent. While I awkwardly rearranged the cleaning products under the sink, my roommate’s boyfriend struck up a conversation from his perch on the couch.
“Laundry time?” he inquired. “Yes, I have put it off for way too long,” I responded, motioning to the multiple layers of clothes. “Cool, cool,” he replied, pausing mid-thought, as if he had more to say. Not sure laundry is that exciting, I felt like saying, but I let his comment go. He was trying very hard to be my friend. This was his second trip of the month to visit my new roommate, his long-term high school girlfriend. He visited for long weekends as their cross-country romance flourished in year seven while my roommate and I were on week seven. We were still in the honeymoon phase of being extra friendly, offering to help with random projects, and overlooking flaws.
“Well, I’m off,” I declared as I opened the door. Again, the strange silence between the two of us. To fill the air, I jokingly offered: ”do you have anything you need washed?” and kept rolling out the door with the cart. “Actually!” he exclaimed, springing up from his seat, and heading into my roommate’s room. In less than a minute, he returned with a pile of gym clothes. “Would you mind?” he asked with puppy dog eyes, handing me a pile of sweaty work out attire.
I didn’t know how to react. Was this an episode of Punk’ed? Was Ashton Kutcher behind this absurd request and waiting for my reaction? My mind raced. I had never expected him to respond so emphatically I had just been making small talk. I didn’t want to touch his smelly gym clothes. Please put them down in the cart directly, I screeched at him inside my head, staring silently at him. In that split second as the world moved in slow motion around me, I realized I only had one option. By saying no, I could potentially ruin my roommate relationship. So, I plastered on a smile as if he was offering me a box of Girl Scout cookies, held my breath to avoid the stink, and rolled the cart as quickly as I could out of the apartment to avoid any other domestic requests.
During the extraordinarily long elevator ride to the basement, I contemplated how I had gotten into this mess. I sighed, accepting the reality I needed to incorporate his wash. Despite that many other people used these shared machines in the building, I refused to mix his clothes with mine. I settled on forking over the extra $5.00 to wash and dry his clothes separately. I spent the next few hours in the laundry room, avoiding returning to the apartment.
When I reappeared upstairs with all clothes folded, I greeted my roommate, who had arrived home from work. ”How was your day?” she asked. “Well, I now know that Brian wears boxers instead of briefs,” I replied. Her jaw dropped. “Don’t worry. I just washed his gym clothes,” I said nonchalantly, handing her the pile. She giggled nervously, “Oh, haha, thank you so much” she replied. “Don’t sweat it,” I said, turning around, hoping to not burst out laughing. Silently, I whispered to myself, “I also now know that he wears wholey boxers too.”