Not all people like the way dogs smell, I have to remember that, even thought there is absolutely no way I will ever understand it. Dogs smell like coffee, and garlic, and fresh water. They smell like those things that make a house a home. Dogs smell like love and security and good food and sleep. I like the way dogs smell, and the puppy Lucas smells very much like a puppy. When he curls up next to me, or lies down on top of me, it’s relaxing and soothing to smell the puppy smell.
Alas! Not all human share this love of canine incense. I wash my sheets once a week anyway, but I also wash the mutt blankets the dogs sleep on during warm weather too. The big comforter on the bed is too large for the washer so I have to take it into town and use the laundry mat’s big machine. It takes about an hour or so, but it’s worth it to curl up with the dogs on a clean comforter.
“When my son was born he weighed six pound and eleven ounces so I tell people he weighed seven pounds.” I’m certain I don’t know this woman. I look around the laundry mat and there are a few people on the other side of the building, and there isn’t anyone near this woman but me. She’s staring right at me. “That was my first and believe me you I was sore for a while, believe me you, it was the worst pain I ever felt.”
In a perfect world strangers talk to other strangers about the weather, Balloon Boy, the economy, and maybe football. I’m thumbing through my internal rolodex for canned responses to the labor pains of women I meet in laundry mats who blurt out such things and discover I have none.
“You don’t have a washer at home?”she asks.
Clearly, as long as I’m standing close enough to hear her, this woman is going to speak to me. I look at the small group of people on the other side of the building and one of them nods. Uh-huh. Right. Time to check out now, it’s been very good meeting you, but, hey, look at the time! I feed the machine quarters and hope she stays out of knife range. I don’t think she’s either armed or dangerous, but remember the guy in Canada who decapitated a fellow passenger because he was bored? She doesn’t look bored or Canadian but why take that chance? I ease towards the other hostages.
A older Hispanic man with uncombed hair comes in and they apparently are married, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. He’s brought her a sandwich bag with six Oreo cookies in it, and it’s like he just handed her a bag full of money. “One, two, three, four, FIVE, SIX!!!!” she nearly shrieks the last two numbers and the man coos to her to get her to be quiet. The woman takes one of the cookies out, put the bag under her arm for safekeeping, and with a look of near prefect ecstasy, begins the ritualization of Oreo cookie eating. She slowly twists it apart, carefully separating the halves as if she’s defusing a bomb. She then licks the frosting off both sides, and finally devours the two chocolate halves. The whole process takes a couple of minutes, really, because each step in the process must be done with perfection. The woman then takes the bag and counts the cookies again, “One, two, three, four, FIVE!” but she is somewhat less excitable about it. I ease out of the door to check out downtown Quitman, which takes less time than it does to eat an Oreo, proper.
The washing machine has a glass door and I can see the comforter washing then spinning as mutt fur is being separated from it. There’s a long black hair that is Sam’s, and there are many of Bert’s tan and white Husky hairs, but I cannot distinguish the hair of the puppy Lucas. It will be almost a week before the comforter really smells like dogs again, and I’ll miss that. Twenty minute in the dryer and the comforter is dry. Oreo woman comes over to me while her husband isn’t watching. “Are you cold?” she asks.
“Forty-two.” I reply.
“That would be seven times SIX!” Oreo woman exclaims loudly.