Laundry Date

—Tuesday, February 21, 2012—

By nature, I was a procrastinator, and while laundry was something that I definitely tended to put off, eight months was a really long time.

IMG_1834To be fair, I had “done laundry” in the previous eight months. However, this was the first time I’d actually washed my own clothes since moving to Astoria the previous July, when I discovered laundry could be dropped off.

It was not that I was lazy (I was, but I often overcame my laziness), only that I had been so busy since moving, between work, improv and OHD, that I just hadn’t had time to do laundry myself. I had done the occasional spin for sheets or stained garments, but never a full load or anything. If drop-off laundry hadn’t been available, I’m not sure when I would have gotten it done.

I’d been somewhat worried about finding a companion for this date since I figured they would have to both live close enough to me such that I could shlep my laundry to their neighborhood and they’d have to be cool with potentially seeing my underwear. Also, they would have to be of such an attitude that they wouldn’t feel slighted by a laundry date, as if that was as nice a date as I would go on with them. Not that every woman wanted champagne and diamonds, but dirty laundry was pretty low on the list of things to bring along on a date.

Needless to say, there were a number of factors to consider.

Fortunately, when I met Amanda at Mosaic (the bar next to my house) four weeks earlier, I found all concerns swept away with an adorable smile. Not only was she enthusiastic about the date, no matter how silly it seemed, but she lived just two blocks from me. We both lived off of an avenue that had six different places to do laundry or dry cleaning within a two block span (all on the same side of the street). We even went to the same laundromat already.

That night, I rushed to get changed out of my work clothes, ate something and gathered my laundry before calling Amanda to meet up. We had hung out at Mosaic, with others, four times by then. Still though, she was more casual on the phone than most dates would have been. I sensed no nervousness from her.

As I arrived in front of Avenue 24 Laundry, I could see Amanda at the end of the block, heading toward me. She waved and offered a loud, “Hello!” as she drew closer. She dropped her laundry bag to the ground and gave me a hug. It was awesome to have someone so enthusiastic for such a mundane date. We entered the laundromat and placed our things down.

It was time to prepare our laundry.

Amanda warned me that, similar to parking a car and several other things, she was “OCD” about how she did laundry. She had to wash certain things in certain batches and she only used certain machines. It was just one of those things about her, apparently.

If I had wanted to be snarky piece of shit, I would have pointed out that OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a much more serious condition than what she had described, which at worst sounded like the makings of an anal-retentive person. However, this was a first date and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. I knew that I sometimes let that OCD descriptor slip out and I wouldn’t have wanted to be judged harshly for its misuse.

I told her about how I hadn’t done laundry once since moving to Astoria and she didn’t seem to think I was  too terrible. Though, because of her particular habits surround the laundry process, she never dropped off, as she knew that it wouldn’t be done properly. It wasn’t a knock against the establishment or staff — all that separation and close care to various garments simply wasn’t  a part of the drop-off laundry contract.

Amanda also explained that she had to wash a bathmat because she and Roommate James, whom I had met previously, traded back and forth on bathmat washing duties. That was how they operated — a communal back-and-forth. To be sure though, she didn’t want to throw the bathmat in with her regular clothes. It was just one of those things.

She used that phrase quite a bit, it seemed, “…it’s just one of those things.”

I had a number of washcloths and the like to toss in the wash, ones that had only been used to sop up leaky radiator water, so the bathmat could go in with those. Cool problem solving. I threw them all in a small washer together.

Next, I separated all my whites from colors, and any towel-like items from the clothing. Amanda then decided against splitting up the bathmat from her other items, because she had her own towels-and-whatnot load to do, so she reclaimed the bathmat and I added my washcloths back to my towel(ish) load. Laundry was not as easy as I remembered it.IMG_1835

She showed me a picture, on her phone, of a dress she had recently bought. I thought it would look cute on her. Amanda was tall and thin, with a great body, and could have easily stood in for the casual model in the picture.

Despite her apparent lack of nervousness, Amanda said she hadn’t been sure what to wear to a Laundry Date. I had felt the same way. Casual, but nice, right? It was sort of a tough call to make. It would have been silly to dress up for a date to do laundry. Alternately, no one wanted to look like a slob on any kind of date.

Remember: No sweatpants on a date. Never. No matter the context.

Amanda also talked a lot, but I already knew that about her. In fact, she called out the fact that she talked a lot, so I don’t meant it to be a negative judgement, merely something that she had warned me about and that I could see clearly demonstrated. We had plenty of date left and I knew that she would probably chill out as the night went on.

Part of her talking was openly discussing the last guy she had dated. Like, very openly. To a certain extent, this was fine, because I was not easily offended or irked by discussing people’s past people. On the other hand, it was the first 30 minutes of a first date and it made me feel like she was not really taking the date seriously. I knew that the date was fairly contrived, being a part of a project and all, but I still tried to take each one seriously. At the very least, those first moments of the date were important for setting that tone.

As much as I preach that there are no rules in dating, and that all topics should be open for discussion, I do think that it’s valuable to show the other person that they are important while on a date. Or at least, that the date holds some kind of value to you. Talking explicitly about exes within the first 30 minutes generally violates this veil of importance. It wasn’t that she was specifically talking about another man that frustrated me, it was that we seemed on different pages about our dating intentions.

Once Amanda had exchanged dollar bills for quarters, and spent a moment talking to a stranger she thought was me, we started our loads at the same time. [That’s a funny line to write.]

With about 25 minutes to burn, we went back to Amanda’s place to hang out. On the way, she told me she had a bunch of whiskey and asked if I liked the brown beverage. Unfortunately, I did not. She didn’t need to worry, I told her — I would survive. We stopped at a deli and got some Coke, for a mixer, since I was a wimp. She mentioned repeatedly how she normally avoided mixers and simply took whiskey over ice. She was tougher than me in that regard. Such a thing was common in my dating life.

We walked into her apartment and her roommate James was home, so we said hello. He was playing a video game in his room, but the door was open. He was that kind of cool, calm, male roommate who didn’t give a fuck that you were there to see his female roommate and could potentially have sex with her. That confidence was unnerving to me.

When I brought someone to my apartment, and my roommate was home, I usually tried to hang out with them as far from my roommates’s ears as possible. Not so in this case. We sat in the kitchen, right outside of James’s door. She was talking to him and me, going back and fourth. That was just the way they were in this apartment. “Right James?” she asked from the kitchen. “Right,” he muttered while mashing at his controller.

Amanda began preparing our drinks and told me that when she would meet guys, they were always shocked or, perhaps more accurately, really impressed that she drank whiskey. I was neither.

If I had a nickel for every lady on OkCupid who mentioned whiskey in her profile (typically, to prove to male suitors that she could hang with them, was cool or maybe to show she wasn’t just a girly girl), I would have like, 50 bucks.

Maybe I’m a feminist, or just a real person, but I don’t think there’s anything inherently gender specific about taste buds. I do not like whiskey, never have, and I don’t feel like less of a man for it. I have plenty of other things to feel unmanly about, and plenty of other drinks to get drunk on, that I don’t really have time to worry about the fact that I dislike whiskey.

Despite my immediate compulsion to interject, I kept my mouth shut for a bit. When I finally did tell her that her whiskey drinking didn’t have the same shocking or impressive effects on me, I framed it with OkCupid profiles of Brooklyn women and the fact that many of the improv women I knew seemed to drink whiskey, so maybe it was just my niche demographic. It didn’t seem crazy, was all I really got across to her.

It was awkward with James right there. I was quieter than I normally would have been. She made our whiskey drinks and they were not so bad. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. Mine was a very standard Jameson and Coke.

We drank and chatted and as we neared the end of our wash time, Amanda wanted to try on her new dress for me. This was a great benefit of her outgoing personality and seemingly absent sense of personal boundaries. In fact, I almost followed her into her room because she left the door wide open but then I backed away when I realized she was about to change in the room.

Though my near entrance initially made me quite aware I might be invading her privacy, she then said something a minute later that I thought indicated it would be permissible to enter the room. I walked in for a second and she was all like, “Evan! Not yet. You can’t watch me change. Not on a first date!”

Damn! I thought. It was an honest mistake and she was all like, “First date, Evan.” Aside from the fact that yes, I would not intend to do such a thing on a first date, I was also a bit confused as to what her first date rules were. She had already aired her dirty laundry (literally), talked about an ex, brought me home and now she was putting on a dress for me to get a look at. My first date gauge was not properly calibrated. In the financial software world, we called this process “managing expectations.”

I didn’t think Amanda was upset with me, but I was embarrassed because James was sitting within earshot the whole time. It really wasn’t too awkward of an occurrence, but the inclusion of a third party who had assuredly overheard the whole thing made it quite uncomfortable for me. I don’t think my fuck up had warranted the level of temporary shame I was putting on myself.

A minute or two later, Amanda had her dress on (over her pants) and came out of her room to the common area where I was waiting. It looked good on her. She thought it was cute but did that thing that people do where they state their own positive opinion, second guess themselves immediately and ask for validation on said opinion. I gave her the validation she sought, because it was deserved, and she then felt the need to see the dress sans pants.

In an instant, she ducked into James’s room to remove her pants, and he was all like, “Dammit woman! What are you doing? Why in here?” It was a fair question. Her own room was just as close as his. It was almost as if she was over-reaching to show me how “cool” they were with each other.

Amanda came back out to the common area and she looked great. She had amazing legs — nice gams, ya know — and she liked showing them off. I was certainly not going to protest, since it was really working out to my benefit at the moment. She liked showing them off so much that she needed heels to complete the look. She returned moments later, a few inches taller, and we debated the merits of heels. They were good for one’s ass she told me, to which I agreed.

She then needlessly told me me that she and James were so comfortable, that she could walk around naked if she wanted. Listen, I get it. Cool.

To be honest, I’m sure all the displayed openness with James could have very well been a good-hearted attempt to show me that he was not a threat. It’s even possible that he was gay. I honestly had no idea. I know that sometimes signals can be easily mixed, and if she meant to communicate to me that James was not a threat to my chances with her then it was very much appreciated. I guess I was just used to a more subtle approach.

Amanda put her regular clothes back on and finished her whiskey before we left her apartment for the laundromat again. On the way, she asked me if I was nervous. “No,” I told her. A simple date like this didn’t really get me nervous any more.

Much to my surprise, she told me that she was nervous — really nervous — about what I was going to write. I tried to tell her that I was a pretty easy going critic and that it took a lot for me to not enjoy a given date. I also told her that I couldn’t tell she was nervous, since maybe that would ease her worries a bit. I felt a pang of guilt because I knew that maybe all the over-sharing and over-talking had simply been her nerves at play and I had been assuming it was over-confidence. All along, she’d been far more nervous than me and I hadn’t been sensitive to that at all.

Back at Avenue 24, our clothing was still where we had left it, thank goodness. We were quite late in switching it over to the driers, but I guess the place wasn’t too crowded that night.

I grabbed a couple dryers for myself and secured one next to me for Amanda. I moved my laundry over to the driers straight away, but Amanda wanted to drip dry a few items and made sure that I was aware of this fact. Once she had separated things out, she loaded up her dryer and I asked her how much time the loads would need. “An hour?” I guessed. She confirmed this was roughly correct.

In a nice play of reverse chivalry, Amanda lent me two quarters as I found myself somehow 50 cents short. She told me that when she mentioned the date to her mother, her mom had insisted that I pay for her laundry. That was a funny thought. Funny because it was silly. Silly because this was a basic household chore for which Amanda had already allocated funds. I likely would have done it though, had she asked. I was a sucker.

The laundry was in the dryer, so it only made sense to go drink more. I told her that I had wine back at my place, or we could always go to Mosaic, our old standby. Mosaic was on the way to my apartment, so we decided to do a walk by and see who was working.

As we strolled past, Amanda and I tried to get a read on who was working the bar at Mosaic, but I didn’t know him and she wasn’t sure if she did. Whoever he was, he had cut his hair. Onto my apartment then.

Upon entering my apartment, Amanda remarked on how large my kitchen was. It was pretty well sized, I admitted, especially in NYC. In fact, our apartment was a good deal larger than hers, but then again, her place was pretty modest, so whatever. It probably cost less, so she was winning on that front.

I showed her around and when she saw how high my bed was raised, she asked how I got leverage, assumedly during sex. Hmm. I didn’t know. I wasn’t bending women over my bed all that often. Would that scenario even make sense? I don’t know, but I suppose I hadn’t had enough sex in it to understand what she was getting at. Mentally, I thanked for the vote of confidence though.

Amanda chose red wine when I asked her which type she preferred, so I opened up the bottle of red and poured a couple glasses. We headed into the living room and sat down on the couch to chat and imbibe. In my opinion, this was far more comfortable than sitting in her kitchen with Roommate James five feet away.

We talked, and drank, mostly about relationship stuff. She didn’t appreciate being treated in any particular way, whether to her benefit or detriment, simply because she was pretty. I suppose I always appreciated women who were aware of their good looks and didn’t want that quality to be their sole identifier. Of course, it needed to be objectively true, or else they just looked egotistical. In Amanda’s case, it was true.

At some point, she mentioned how little she and James paid for their apartment and not only was I correct in my previous assumption, but I was jealous. I’d have definitely lived there for the kind of money she mentioned.

Also though, Amanda mentioned for at least the third time that night, how terrible the sex with her last guy had been. I was not interested. Thinking about it at the time of writing, I truly don’t know why I was so upset with her for talking about it because I was typically very open to discussing matters of past relationships, both romantic and sexual. I suppose it had something to do with the judgement she presented along with the criticism. I’d had bad sex before, but I tried my hardest not to simply blame the other person. Sex was a two-way street and if things were bad, there needed to be communication in order to make it better. If it was still no good, maybe those two people simply weren’t a fit.

The way Amanda talked about it though, was with a quality of laughing at this guy that made me feel like she’d tell anyone about poor sexual performances.

It was not long before our almost-hour was up (roughly 55 minutes). In fact, we hadn’t even finished our first round of wine before we were back out the door.

We first returned to Amanda’s, so that she could grab her hamper, and then back to Avenue 24 one last time. We collected our laundry and one of the attendants came forth with one of Amanda’s wet towels that she had misplaced during the washer-dryer transfer. Oh well — one stray item was pretty good for so many loads of laundry. We walked, arms full of freshly laundered clothing, towels and bathmats, back to my place to finish our wine.

Once back on my couch, with our wine glasses at the ready, we sat much closer to one another and my hand lay on Amanda’s leg. We talked about a number of things but relationship talk remained primary.

Only then, rather than providing me with too much information about past exploits, Amanda talked about maturing in the dating world and treating herself better than she had when she was in college. Maybe it was the conversation or maybe it was the booze, but I finally felt like Amanda was listening and invested in our conversation for the first time that night. However non-serious the rest of the date had been, I began to feel like it was going somewhere.

It was not too long before my roommate Pat came home. Amanda and Pat had hung out before at Mosaic, so it was not awkward to have him there all of a sudden. We both bantered back and forth with Pat a bit while he settled himself after a long day.

As I sensed that everything had settled down and Pat was sitting in his room, five feet from us, I recognized that things could get awkward with us occupying the living room.

Before I allowed any of those moments to occur, I leaned in and whispered in Amanda’s ear. “Want to go into my room and smooch a little?” Perfectly forward and yet innocent all the same. She nodded ‘yes’ immediately.

Amanda and I went into my room, closed the door and I kissed her. She told me that this part of the date wouldn’t be a part of the blog post and I told her I couldn’t promise that. I couldn’t leave out a first kiss, after all.

We climbed onto my poorly-leveraged bed and made out for 15 minutes or so until it was clear that making out was as far as it would go that night. That was fine with me, obviously, because I was not a monster.

Lying there on my bed with each other, we talked for another 30 minutes or so. We talked about sex. About dating. About not having sex with each other. It was really kind of nice, actually. A very distant cry from what the rest of the night had been. It was a amazing what a couple glasses of wine and the breaking of sexual tension could do for a date.

I walked Amanda back to her apartment and hugged her goodnight. I then returned home and refused to fold my laundry, because it could it could totally wait until tomorrow.