Monday, November 20, 2017

Speaking of All-Night Laundromats

Never been in one but I’m glad they’re there. I imagine these are great places for co-conspirators to meet during the spin cycle with plans to rig an election. If you came to launder money your limo made a wrong turn. This may be where John Le Carre does his best writing. Insomniacs can congregate and bore each to sleep or watch single socks slither out the door…and then show up in a yard sale next month. Those round windows remind me of early television screens by Philco or Zenith. Who does their laundry in the wee hours? Maybe folks on their way to early Mass or nurses coming home on the graveyard shift or some guy who spilled ketchup on himself while eating at an all-night diner.

Which brings me to one of those, We Never Close, eateries. I won’t mention the name but it rhymes with Hell. They call themselves a Drive-In. After having lunch there last week I’d like to drive my car right through the place. Peggy and I thought to give it a try around 3 o’clock. P.M. that is. I can think of five reasons why we’ll never return. The soup was cold. The service, non-existent. Prices were immodest. The air conditioner made us feel we were in Costco’s meat locker. And most egregious was the hundred decibels blaring from the juke- box with a continuous loop of rock music enough to percuss our ears, jangle our nerves and numb our brains. When Sinatra came on for one number with, Strangers in the Night, I thought the torture was over but it then resumed. I was yearning for John Cage’s, 4’, 33” of silence.

The place must be a truck-stop for big rigs headed to San Francisco. Maybe the cacophony along with the frigid air is intended to re-charge their adrenalin for the next 500 miles.

CVS pharmacies are another one with their lights on in this city that never sleeps. Are these for shoppers who hate crowds? Or suddenly woke up in a panic because they ran out of Q-tips or One-A-Day vitamins? My guess is the pharmacist during the day leaves all the routine paper work for the poor sucker on the night shift.

I was a stranger in the night once or twice. The occasion was cramming for final exams in college. Along with two friends I rode the subway through the wee hours in order to stay awake, memorizing structural formulas and botanical origins for a course called Materia Medica. We stuffed our heads with a glossary of name from rhizomes and roots to the inner rind of fruits. None of it had the slightest relevance to my life as a pharmacist counting and pouring. 

Could it be, at the midnight hour, white sheets from the laundromat floated over to the pharmacy like ghosts of alchemical ancestors over a smoky cauldron to do their sorcery in the dark shadows of a CVS all-night inner sanctum? Could it be? I doubt it.

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