Awkward Urban Life

Laundry day.

I suppose people who live on farms encounter socially awkward situations from time to time, just like city people. But surely they are not such regular occurrences. Country folk simply lack the same opportunities for embarrassment. There’s no laundry room on the farm, for instance. That’s some rich soil for awkwardness.

One day I bump into Y., my tall and attractive neighbour in the laundry room of my apartment building. We went on a date once but it never led anywhere, alas. We chat for a bit and I leave. Several hours later I am back with my own laundry. Checking the dryer I find a pair of ladies undergarments. It seems my neighbour has been careless.

Now what? Good neighbours look out for each other’s stuff, don’t they? If I know who owns the undergarment doesn’t proper etiquette dictate that I return it? But then, it’s an undergarment, fraught with awkwardness. If I take the undergarment back to Y she will know I have been handling them. I will in fact be handing over her undergarments. If she really wanted me to handle her undergarments we’d probably have had more than one date.

All the same I feel I must abide by the Golden Laundry Rule: Return unto others. I head up to the second floor and knock on Y’s door. A woman answers. It’s not Y. I’m at the wrong door, holding a pair of ladies undergarments. I excuse myself and knock on the next door. Y answers. “I think you left these behind,” I say. “I mean below. Downstairs. Dryer.” I extend the undergarment. Y takes the pants and unfolds them. For the first time I notice that they’re huge. She glares at me. “You think these are MINE?” she says. “You could fit two of me in there.”

She hands them back, mutters something and closes the door. And I realize belatedly that this awkward, tricky urban situation is only awkward and tricky if you’re an idiot. Most people would have found it pretty simple. Perhaps I should have been born on a farm.

Read more essays by Steve Burgess.

Photo by del mich via Flickr



Post Date:

May 8, 2014