tapped

At the Speed-Dee Wash, I am a minority in two ways: white and alone. I am the only non-Latino person I see in the laundromat, and no one holds the other side of big things I have to fold.

The men look bored. One brings his drumsticks and Walkman, and while his girlfriend speaks animatedly to him, he taps out a rhythm on his grey-clad thighs, headphones on. She is explaining to him, from what little Spanish I know, that her boss is harassing her. Her hair is pulled back tightly into a high ponytail, so tightly I wonder how she can swallow or breathe. Tap-taptap-tap is the only response, so she turns and watches the infinite dance of permanent press instead.

Another couple look like they have just come from a nice dinner out. Ruby-red lips are a cliche, but this woman has them, a perfect mole below one corner of her mouth as punctuation. I think of the many men slain by those lips, just one pucker, or a thoughtless tongue run along one. Her man is attentive, and holds her wrist when she is not folding her black panties into neat thirds.

I like my wrist held. I like to think of kisses in a laundromat, of ignoring being ignored. I like to put the clothes in and, unseen, they are different again, like they were before. Tight folds and thin creases, I watch the others, laying across a bench, under a pay-phone. Before I leave, I notice a sticker on the receiver that says, “This Phone Is Tapped.”

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