Lint and color selection and spin cycles, oh my! When I got an invitation to a Laundry Open House in our apartment building last week, I was excited out of proportion to the event. The operation of new brands of washing and drying machines was to be the topic of the soiree. But I chose to focus on the words Open House and think of the word laundry as an afterthought.
Since moving from North Carolina to NYC a year ago, we had been a little socially adrift. If this was not exactly our ticket to crack open the vault of coolness that is Manhattan high society, I thought at least I’d meet a few folks in my apartment building. It would be a chance to relate to them in a more relaxed setting than between floors in the elevator. I pictured some wine and cheese and a short lecture by a Maytag repairman. Afterward, we could mingle in the urbane manner that big city sophisticates do and discuss the merits of the wine and whether the new laundry equipment was up to snuff.
“This was a good year for GE,” we might say of the new equipment. “But do you have something in another color? These shiny new white washing machines clash with my ensemble and delicate sensibilities. What about an off white or beige?” Alas, there were no Hors d’oeuvre nor drinks served. No free wine or cash bar in sight. No cheese and crackers. No celery with dipping sauce. Not even Ritz with Skippy peanut butter.
The three of us in attendance at the gala event assembled in the cramped laundry room on the 17th floor. We were given free laundry bags along with a card and machine instructions. We all wanted less gaudy laundry bags than the bright yellow bags the laundry company representative was trying to unload on us. He dug through a large stack. “I have pink,” he noted. Oh, God no. Universal no to the pink. Not the pink, we all said early and often and with emphasis. The yellow was starting to look better. He kept digging. Options were few. In the end, I got a navy bag. That was good. Anything but the pink.
He demonstrated the operation of a washing machine, leaving the door open. When one of us shut the machine’s door in a bit of reflexive compulsiveness, the repairman let drop this nugget of wisdom as he re-opened it. “Leave the door of the washing machines open just a crack to let the condensation that builds up dry,” he said. Ah, we said all together inside our minds at once. And, we will. I chatted for a moment with another attendee, and we went along our way. Social obligations attended to for the evening. Open house complete. (Those who chose not to attend this function were later given their new cards and laundry bags at the front desk without benefit of social congress. I hope they all enjoyed the bright yellow laundry bags we had spurned earlier. Or worse, the hot pink.)
The night before this soiree, I had been at a much larger gathering at the Javitz Center for Comic Con NYC. A huge event with massive throngs of people who shared a love of comics, video games and geek culture in general. Online instructions on How to Survive Comic Con included repeated advice to bring lots of water to stay hydrated and apply plenty of deodorant before coming. I had never been to a gathering where the host specifically stressed the application of deodorant before arrival. I guess the conference sponsors knew their audience – sweaty adolescents who sometimes forgot to apply deodorant. I was impressed. My 15-year-old son and I wandered through the massive collection of merchandise. T-Shirts. Comics. Toys. Video games. It never ended.
Avery spotted a T-shirt with a pepperoni pizza on the front and a curiously familiar diagram drawn over the top of the pie. “I love pizza,” Avery told the slightly built young woman selling it. “Pizza and Satan,” she responded in an oddly wistful tone. “Two of my favorite things.” I looked closer. How had Satan suddenly entered the conversation? It seemed an abrupt name-drop with no rhyme or reason. We might mention to a visitor that Leonardo DeCaprio lives in a Downtown luxury apartment building just several blocks down from hours. We might say we once spotted Alec Baldwin angrily walking his dogs uptown one morning while shouting obscenities at paparazzi. But Satan doesn’t usually enter such conversations. Then I saw it. The pizza on the T-shirt was overlaid with a pentagram. I appreciated her weird enthusiasm for Satan, but I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be getting the T-shirt now. Luckily Avery chimed in at this moment. “I don’t like pepperoni on my pizza anyhow. I’m a cheese pizza man all the way,” he asserted. Problem solved.
After unloading all the cash we brought with us in short order, we took pictures of some of the costumed characters. There was an abundance of children dressed as some of the most violent comic book characters imagineable. Which Avery and I both found quite adorable and precious. Not sick or weird at all. A miniature Deadpool was already having his picture taken when I came upon him. He was busy doing a series of hip Gangdam style dance moves that I found compelling and only slightly disturbing. Another ultra violent character “KickAss” was being portrayed by a boy I can only imagine was somewhere between the ages of 5 and 7 years old. His mom was by his side dressed as a vampire. She must have been so proud.
We squeaked into the opening night main stage comedic performance that featured well known New York comic and actor Janeane Garofalo She was having a hit and miss night. She opened well. She mentioned her notion of bringing her bowling ball from the movie Mystery Men in which she played one of a band of second-rate superheroes. She played the Bowler, using a bowling ball possessed by her dead father to fight crime. She lives close enough to the convention center to have walked there, she noted. But a sciatic nerve in her back prevented her from toting the ball over. She mentioned that she is a fan of the comic Fart Party, which drew some laughs and sudden interest from my son. Should I be reading Fart Party instead of Spider-man, I believed he thought to himself. He later told me he wasn’t thinking that at all.
Putting the two words fart and party together was clever. A neat verbal trick. I like parties. Not crazy about farts. But a fart party. Hmm. That made me wonder about what sort of etiquette was called for at a fart party. Do leave the windows wide open for this event. Don’t choose this festive occasion for a first date. If you received an invitation to a Fart Party in the mail, what would be the proper response? Offended or delighted?
Sorry, I cannot attend your Fart Party in Queens on Saturday as I previously RSVPd to a Puke Dance in Tribeca the same evening. Please include me as an invitee to next year’s gala Fart Party, and I will clear my social calendar in advance.
Unfortunately, Garofalo ran out of nerd culture references quickly. She went on to relate her feelings about waiting in lines in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and how much she loves bead stores and why. These were less well received. I think she realized she should have hired someone to bring her bowling ball. She could have had it placed on a small table in front of her so that she could bend to kiss it reverently whenever her punchlines drew crickets from the crowd.
Garofalo turned out to be a warm-up act. Brian Posehn, the comedian who writes the comic book Deadpool, had us at hello. He went on to make a series of jokes about farts, superheroes and Star Wars. We howled. He mentioned playing with his four-year-old son who is into superheroes. “Daddy, you be Batman, and I’ll be Wolverine,” his son requested. He was forced to correct his toddler. “DC and Marvel cross-overs rarely work” he explained to his son. “Those are two separate universes. Never the twain shall meet.”
Fitting into New York society was easier than I thought. Why had I been worried about this? I just had to find my own private Fart Party. Mission accomplished. The Comic Con was just the ticket. As a bonus, most of the attendees wore deodorant this year.