Academic journal article Antipodes

In Xanadu . . . a Stately Pleasure Dome

Academic journal article Antipodes

In Xanadu . . . a Stately Pleasure Dome

Article excerpt

We've got five days to score. And we're here wasting time in a laundromat. I'm watching my clothes roll about in the Primus dryer at the Laundromat on Whyte St. Someone's told Firebug this is a good pick-up place. Ten minutes for a dollar. Firebug's watching clothes roll about in a dryer too. Next to mine. On the left. But they're not his underpants and socks and t-shirts. No. The clothes he's watching belong to the young woman sitting across from us, her tanned legs crossed high above her white shorts, her red halter top opening on her cleavage as she bends over to read a paperback novel. A Boones and Mills, with a couple kissing passionately on the cover. She's got the figure of a woman resisting age big time and a sharp pretty face. I wonder what Bernice looks like these days but I don't mention it to Firebug.

I'm watching my dark jockeys flap about and fly with my green and red golf shirts, my Ripcurl t-shirt, Mango shorts, and Foster's towel. Firebug forced me to buy this mod gear. Got to look good, he urged. He's not interested in his Helfiger and Mt. Woodgie gear in the dryer. He's watching her bra and panties, her bikinis, her halter tops. They leap off, puff up and dive about in the drier. I'm fascinated by the tumbling grace of the clothes. Like Olympic floor gymnasts, they cartwheel and flop, leap and fall. She looks up. Catches him staring at her clothes in the drier. Gives out a crooked grin. He doesn't notice.

It's a slow motion kaleidoscope- her lingerie floats like floppy dolls for a second then falls into a heap, like divers leaping off an imaginary diving board. Firebug though is imagining something else. I know because I can imagine it too. Somehow there are these half-naked women all in a row, throwing themselves like rag dolls in their panties and bras up, up into the air, in wild abandon, as if they have seen some object of their great desire and they have thrown themselves at it in careless rapture. We can put ourselves in that situation, casually accepting the breathless adoration of their careless leaps. Except in Firebug's case I expect the bras and bikinis are falling off as he watches the naked woman in the dryer perform their tumbles and high half gainers. He's transfixed.

I glance at the woman. She's late twenties at least, auburn hair, probably dyed, with one of those sharp, angled faces, smoothly chiseled now, foxy almost. She has tube-like breasts, squeezed up in their tightly encased red halter top. She has a gold ring in her belly button. A small tattoo just above her cleavage. Looks like a dark tulip, its stem reaching down and out.

I should've brought a book or something to the Whyte Street Laundry. The seats are hard and you can't really leave your clothes either in the washers or the dryer and go for a walk. Someone'd nick your gear, no sweat. In the Beach Side Hotel, the guy at the desk said, there are so many druggies around, everything, everywhere is locked up tight. But this laundromat gig's over an hour out of your life. The 25-minute wash is three bucks. Six bucks if you do a white wash as well as a colored one. To hell with that. Though I've ended up with the pinkest whites a few times. Firebug's convinced we'll pick up a bird at this laundromat. Hasn't happened the last two trips.

One washing machine load is enough. And the dryers take at least two bucks, one buck per ten minutes actually, but twenty minutes doesn't always completely dry the sniff.

We could send out our clothes for the 12 bucks we spend on washing our clothes, but Firebug likes the idea of the excursion to Whyte St. He gets disappointed though, if there's no women doing their washing. Or if a couple put their gear together and men's undies rumble with female lingerie.

This chick has some pretty skimpy and exotic undergear drying in the drier. There's black and red and gold and silver, probably glo-colored stuff, sort of g-strings and thin little bras. There's other pink and white lacy stuff, but it's the gold and silver flying stuff that Firebug's watching. …

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