Monday, November 9, 2009

My Second Load of Laundry

I was waiting for my laundry in the basement of the villa when a fat man in a speedo with a towel draped over his shoulder emerged from a room that I had assumed was a small broom closet.
            The clothes had been in the machine for nearly two hours, and I had made several trips down the stairs hoping they would be done, and the machine was on the spin cycle, so I had decided to stand and wait for it to finish rather than go back upstairs again, that’s why I was in the room. It’s not somewhere you would want to spend a lot of time. It’s about twenty-five feet long and eight feet wide. There’s nowhere to sit; in fact, the washing machine is the only thing there, alone in the corner as if our landlord decided to put it in timeout. Where the wall meets the floor there is an impressive collection of dead insects, many of which are large flies. The flies here, by the way, become excessively hyper, much more than I have ever experienced in Oregon, when they sense they are on the verge of being swatted with a grammar book.
            There are two doors in the basement. One is at the bottom of the stairs with a sign on it that says something in Czech. This is the one that the fat man emerged from. The other door is across the room, facing the washing machine. That is the one that the fat man walked to, opened, and entered, after a brief moment of eye contact with me (perhaps a slight nod as well, but I couldn’t be sure) in which he did not appear caught off guard in the slightest, so I attempted to appear that way as well. 
            I had noticed that the light was on in the room that he went into, and I had been hearing men’s voices coming from it. However, even though it was past nine o’clock, I had thought this was construction workers. They work incredibly long hours, and I remembered that there was construction going on in the villa. I remembered it quite vividly, because I was woken by a buzz saw beneath my window at six in the morning.
            Apparently they had been building a bath house, and apparently the broom closet was a changing room. I’ve gone back a couple nights since at around nine, and the light has been on in that room and there has been loud men’s voices coming from it. As you might have guessed, the situation has raised some questions, and the more I think about it, the more questions I have.
First off, why is there a bath house in the basement of my villa? Is this a common location for bath houses in Prague? And who are these men, the landlord’s friends, the construction workers, paying customers? How do they even get down there? I know they don’t use the front door. Isn’t this something the residents of the villa should be informed about? “By the way, when you do laundry, and have to head down that dark staircase that seems like its leading you to somewhere you don’t want to go, don’t be surprised if the closet door swings open and a large, half-naked man walks out.”
And why don’t we get to use it? Or, can we? Can I strap on a speedo, grab a towel, and soak up some steam with Pavel and the whole merry, hairy crew? What would they do if I just opened the door? It’s unlocked. There’s no sign. The other door is the one with the sign. I’m guessing it says something about not entering, but that’s fine. That’s just the changing room. I can change in my room. Sure, it’ll be a little chilly walking down two flights of stairs in a speedo, but I’ll manage. The warm steam will feel that much better once I get inside that bath house. Right, Pavel? Doesn’t this feel great? What’s that you got there, Pilsner? How about passing your old friend Ross one of those bottles? No? You’re right, I’m not really thirsty. Whew! What a day I had! How was your day, Pavel? Don’t feel like talking about it? Oh, that’s okay. We’ll just sit. I like sitting. Do you like sitting, Pavel? You must like sitting, because you sure don’t like talking, do you? I coulda swore I heard you guys just talking up a storm right before I came in. What happened? Did I say something?


  1. love it, you should definitely join

  2. So, did you ask to take his photo? Sounds like a good candidate for your research. And more importantly, have you opened that door yet? I can't wait to hear what you find! Only your second load of laundry?
    Love you and your writing - Mom

  3. Your man in a speedo reminds me of the time I went to Central park & was caught off guard when I found many men in speedos laying out on towels like the grassy park was a beach. I found this really strange. Please tell me you shower more often than you do laundry & that you brought a lot of clothes! And stop the suspense... open the door & tell us all about it :) - Rach

  4. WTF! Drum Roll please...

    behind door number 1???????????????

  5. Editor's note: A more thorough afternoon search yielded some interesting results. First, I misremberededa the amount of doors. There are three total, two doors that face the washing machine, and the one at the bottom of the stairs. The one at the bottom of the stairs that the man came out of is basically a bathroom. There is a shower. The one that he went into was locked. The third one was open. It was essentially a living room, a couch, some chairs, carpet, some drapes, a pile of tires, rather cozy.
    It appears that whatever was behind the door where all the men were will have to be left to the imagination. I'm sticking with my bath house theory.