What Happened Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow (I Became the Nobody of Myself) – Big Bruiser Dope Boy
May 24, 2023
I woke and read a text from a guy I’m seeing casually. “Fuck, I’m so horny right now! I want your fat cock deep inside me so bad shooting your fucking load deep inside me.” Above the words, an over-the-shoulder picture of his ass, back arched, making an intentionally cute/awkward face. While I appreciated the nature of his message, it also made me apprehensive, because, though we have fun and exchange a great deal of affection, I don’t foresee a committed partnership for us, something I do foresee him wanting eventually, because, well (gestures towards obvious appeal of self). If you want to be my boyfriend, you can’t react to and comment on YouTube videos aloud at my apartment while I’m doing the dishes. I’m going to think you’re talking to me. You can’t like “movies with a strong female lead.” Even if you just want to be my friend, there are certain things you can’t do. You can’t keep a “shit list” in your fifties, or meticulously plan, catalogue, and rate on a calendar everyone with whom you’ve had sex. The neurotic, hysterical clinicians of our corruption––passively and vaguely and noncommittally offering bureaucratically sterile barbs to the rote atmosphere, while always (being ever half-assed of spirit) giving themselves an out, a disclaimer. Maintaining every empty connection without connection. Lecherous and treacherous, another facially edited soldier in the demon nation of unchecked motivations. What do you actually want (do you even know and can you admit it)? Is there something I can help you with?
Over time, there are things you notice in people’s personalities, certain inclinations of mind manifest as behaviors, particular cultural patterns, that have deeper implications about values and intelligence, or a lack thereof, despite expressed, broadcasted politics. Usage of the word “ally.” Invoking “accountability” within a pettily deranged personal revenge subtext. Wearing a Carhartt ballcap and growing a nasty grey beehive out of your chin because your voice is gay. Just be gay with your gay voice. Belt out blue-collar showtunes with some lost twenty-something’s yam in your gnome bussy. Mentor him in the ways of narcissistic Gen X resentment. Trad, atheist, queer, normal, punk, a witch. I don’t care what you want me to know you are, based on whatever mass-produced, mindless group option was made for you to which you agreed or are recoiling from, and now compulsively spread. Stay away, and enjoy the maintenance of your shit list while you slurp your shit soup and make yourself sicker and sicker. You’re too old for what was never cool in the first place, and I’m old enough to know when an older person never grew up. But no yeah, you’re totally cool/badass, and anybody who thinks you suck is jealous and wrong.
Knowing myself well and already feeling a little touchy and temperamental (zooted off that Gorilla Glue nlah), I decided to do laundry in a different town because the mat in mine gets goofy sometimes. People getting out of windowless vans with logos of defunct businesses painted over, wearing pink dresses, velcro sandals, big antennaed transistor headphones. Christian propaganda magazines on the coffee table, traveling workers eyeing me. Freakish behaviors exhibited by a new class of semi-melted people––one who wouldn’t have survived what my grandma lived through, one who will perish within a couple days when the lights go out (unlike me––haha!––who will last up to a week), despite the woodburning stove they regularly need to remind everybody they have while their polywife fantasizes about having sex with a guy she works with at a quaint, rural grocery store. Karma’s not a bitch. Unless you mean the projected, prideful willed actions of a psychic landscape’s vanity. It’s kind of like publicly sacrificing your newborn to Satan. If you make that deal, just be ready (God forbid you act surprised) when it comes time for Him to collect what you owe. I was born in Boston, can read minds, and am afraid people are following me.
I entered the smaller, quieter laundromat carrying a black plastic garbage bag (clothes), a white kitchen bag (bedding), and a container of detergent for sensitive skin (I’m sensitive). An older woman in a scooter immediately greeted me by my name. Not remembering hers but intuiting it was a family friend, I said it was good to see her, while feeling a creeping auguring of something like the embryonic, visceral notion I was experiencing the pre-beginning stages of the brain disease that killed my mom, surely wrought by the drugs I no longer used, like Facebook accelerated hers. My teeth are falling out.
Okay but so––the lady, the woman who knows my grandma. I’m talking to her. Are you with me here? I’m talking to the woman in the wheelchair thing at the laundromat in the town other than mine because it’s supposedly more chill and there’s not scary people who want to mess with me there. My aunt mentioned this to me. I explain all this to my grandma’s cripple friend. “She was right, this place is super cool actually. These machines’ve gotta be from the eighties, seventies even. They were built to last. And they’re like half the price as the new place. It’s so quiet here. I heard sirens in my air conditioner last night. I mean, I mistook some of the sub-noises within the din of my A/C for sirens, like an emergency. But then an actual siren passed by outside and I could tell the difference, so that was good. I have PTSD from my boyfriend dying.”
“Oh yah . . . the only thing is you gotta be careful not to come here at certain times. These old ladies get very protective of the machines they’re using. They get mean.”
“Whoa, sounds intense, thanks for the tip. My grandma called me delicate the other day.”
“Oh that’s so cute! It’s usually Mondays Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the day.”
I feed the change dispenser a twenty and over two trips carry in cupped hands more quarters than I’d need and set them on top of the washing machine. A triple loader. I rip open the black bag and shove in my dirty shit. Clothes, towels for the hands and body, cumrags. It smells like a bevy of cyborg doves. I set the water to hot with double wash cycles (nlah). At some point, another woman comes in. Fat with a short haircut and a lot of makeup. My girlfriend, basically, my dream wife. She stations herself on a chair in front of a wall of dryers. Loadstars. My boyfriends, basically, my dream husbands. She’s scowling at a washer across from her post. “Look at those clothes just sitting there. People just leave their clothes in the machines. Other people need to wash their clothes, too.”
“Oh yah, I think she went to the gas station.”
I watch my clothes and towels and rags get sloshing, then scout for a smaller machine for the bedding. I behold one even larger than the triple loader. The beefcake. The big daddy. Maybe someday, but not now. Putting my bedding in there would be like. It would be like putting something way too small in something way too big, you know what I mean? I go around by where the fat woman is, finding a machine of perfect capacity.
“That one is the one you should’ve used, if you didn’t have whites. You could’ve done ’em all in one.”
“Oh yeah, the big daddy. All my clothes fit in the triple loader, though. I actually wash the whites with the darks in a single batch, on HOT. Haha, betcha thought I had the colors in the black bag and the whites in the white. It’s actually my bedding in the white. [Smiling at my grandma’s friend while the fat woman looks displeased] I’ll inadvertently dye my garments pink, but I won’t mix in the bedding. I don’t really give a ding-dang but I draw the line there know’mzayne-nlah.”
We share a chuckle and I’m pretty sure she farts (oh shih haha nlah). I snort while ripping the white bag open and shove my bedding in the machine I chose to use and get it sloshing, like something sloshing in a thing. Sloshy slosh slosh-ola. Literature. Lyricism. Lilacs on a locomotive in Lancaster. Is your motive loco? Autofictional divorces, substackedly rendered. [Making hateface] Oh yeah you like that?
I throw the ripped bags in the garbage and place quarters in the laundry bag dispenser, which eats them. No bag. Seventy-five cents, and no bag. So inconsiderate.
“Did it just steal your money?”
“It sure did [demonstratively slamming the metal coin receiver on its track, reaching hand up inside dispensing mouth]. There’s no bag.”
I walk over to the ladies, arms folded, pretending to be in a huff. “Maybe I spoke too soon about this place. Some of my friends on the East Coast who almost kill themselves working in factories on the computer. They work with food, too. Ew! Any given day, seventy-five cents is all they have to spend on their t-shirts and books and raw denim and boots and jewelry. That’s not nothing.”
“Oh yah, that’s just awful.”
“Yeah this country is coming apart at the seams, and it’s all because of religion, science, history, art, and deepfake A.I. tech that, in conjunction with foreign infiltration at all levels of every institutional system (academic, justice, medical, social, financial, industrial, etc.) real crimes can be staged and covered up, and innocent people can be framed for crimes they never committed, hell, things that were never crimes in the first place. Nullified damnation, fabricated evidence. Throw in a little rhetorical values-leveling nihilism, blended with pious crackpot eternalism on the other extreme side of thangs, and you gotcher self a cute lil recipe for a collapse necessitating a great reset towards a globally consolidated and streamlined government.”
“Oh yah, I love a great human harvest and culling perpetrated by elite homesteading non-entities. Can’t wait for these quantum comps, too. Nlah. Did I do that right?”
“Absolutely. AND I just threw those bags away. Not that I would’ve used them.”
“Ya know, I actually have a plastic bag in the backseat of my car. You can grab it if you want.”
“Zomygot. That’s very sweet. But I couldn’t. Oh wait. That reminds me. At the risk of sounding low-IQ. Haha I just realized this, but I actually just bought black plastic garbage bags and tall white kitchen bags (with drawstrings for ease nlah) at the Farm & Fleet before coming here. Like right before. They’re in the back of my car. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Not the ones I used to bring the dirty stuff in. The ones I just bought. Those can totally be used for clean laundry. Just because they’re not branded as laundry bags doesn’t mean I can’t use them as such. It’s all just plastic right. I deserved to have the seventy-five cents stolen from me [pointing finger at temple] space cadet! But also . . . umm . . . lifehack much? [Excitedly looking at fat woman, who looks disgusted].”
“Wait . . . YOU have a CAR outside?!”
“Yeah, haha why?”
“[Looking at my grandma’s friend] I just figured someone dropped you off here [rolling her eyes like ‘THIS bozo . . .’].”
“[In overly proper tone] No ma’am I’m fully capable of driving myself places. [Smiling at my grandma’s friend] But no yeah someone dropped me off from the asylum. The shuttle pulled up and they let me out the straitjacket for the afternoon haha.” We share a laugh and this time I fart, relieving the completely uncalled-for tension created by the fat woman with the topographical makeup. Dark green-yellow toxic smoke billows from her ears as I realize she looks like Wario in drag. WAAAAAH! NLAAAAAH! I leave to grab the new bags from the car, farting again on my way out, overhearing the fat woman remark on people from where I live coming to where she lives to do laundry. These . . . invaders. My mom grew up here and went to high school a few blocks away.
I’m waiting for my laundry to finish washing. My grandma’s friend leaves and says goodbye and I say take care. Scanning the community corkboard, I see a poster advertising job positions as a meat cutter. Childish? Maybe I’ll become a meat cutter. Nah I’ll never work with food. Ew! The fat woman goes “yeah I need to use three dryers.”
“I’m going to spin them for just a few minutes and then hang them up at home.”
“. . . Right on.”
My clothes are finished, so I shovel them into a metal basket and roll it over to a Loadstar just beyond the edge of where the fat woman is sitting. I dump the clothes in––the colors, the pink-whites, the towels, cum everywhere––I get it spinning and flipping, because this is a new kind of short story, written in a new grand style that is delighting and amazing to some (open readers), while confusing and angering to others (dangerously obsessive closet cases with crumbling home-lives, mommy-cop therapists, jilted acquaintances, resenticrats, etc.).
While I’m waiting for my bedding to finish, I open one of the smaller dryers and check it out, make sure it’s good to go, and the fat woman goes “put your sheets in here when they’re done [pointing to one of the dryers she’s sitting in front of].”
“. . . What?”
“PUT YOUR SHEETS IN HERE WHEN YOU’RE DONE.”
“But . . . why?”
“Look ma’am, I’m a cool guy. But I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m confused and don’t know what’s going on. And it’s not just because I’m off that gas nlah. Why are you telling me what dryer to use?” And it dawns on me, like the first ever sunrise on this sweet and sour earth, like an atomic shockwave sweeping through ancient ruins, like something doing something to something else, yet like nothing else. Reality. This woman. This fat woman with a bunch of makeup on. She’s guarding and claiming the dryers she’s sitting in front of as her own. Sentinel of the Loadstars. Three of them, none in use. That was why she told me of her plans, her intentions to use the three, which I didn’t care about, because there’s like three dozen dryers in here, and only two, three people. She could’ve used ten. She could’ve gotten in one and took a nap. I––and I couldn’t seem to be able to stress this to her enough––didn’t give a shit. She thought she was letting me use something that was never hers. Except she wasn’t letting me. She was telling me. Benevolently commanding, now, that I do so. Myteetharefallingout.
“Oh, you said you wanted to use three. Right, yeah I was just gonna use this one over here.”
“Yeah but I can use two. I’m just gonna spin them for a bit and hang them up at home. Use this one. It’s bigger.”
“I don’t need to. It’s just bedding.”
“Just use it.”
A standoff. Then this other, older woman chimes in. I didn’t see her enter. It was like she was my guardian angel or something. Weathered skin with a dyke haircut. Badass bitch coming in hot. “You can use whatever dryer you want. This is a public place. You can’t reserve machines [doing booze bottle motion with hand like ‘that lady is drunk’].”
“I guess I just don’t understand what’s it to you. Like what difference does it make, what dryer I use.” And she didn’t have an answer for that.
The lady that chimed in leaves and the fat woman starts going off on her. But I’m not paying attention. “What’s up?”
“That woman. Saying all that. I know this is a public place. People need to get laundry done. Have some consideration.”
I’m waiting for my bedding to finish washing. It stops, so I try to open the door. The fat woman corrects me. “You have to wait until the light turns off. The light’s still on. It’s still going.”
“Ah.” I wander over to the corkboard and take a picture of the meat cutter poster. I read a handwritten note from a guy trying to get a pool league together. It reminds me of my mom’s masculine all-caps penwomanship. I hear the washer finish and the door click unlocked.
“There you go. THERE you GOOOOO.”
I switch it over to the machine I fucking chose to use. I sit in a chair with my sunglasses on. My head is a stealth fighter jet. Worthless words deflecting off sharp angles, cruising undetected in enemy airspace. I text my friend Norm and tell him what’s up.
“This is where you’re a white belt in dealing with women. Sounds like you encountered a pretty typical older Michigan type lady, there may be some crossover. In general, they (when drunk or otherwise) must be harshly dealt with at first, and if they persist, which they usually don’t, then completely ignore. They’re basically doing an extreme version of female hitting on you. Negging if you will.”
I pretend to fall asleep and can see the fat woman periodically glancing over the machines at me. I actually fall asleep, and when I wake, she’s gone. I’m alone in the laundromat. The goal. My clothes are almost dry. I step outside for a stretch and some fresh air. I make eye contact with a dog in the passenger seat of a huge four-door pickup parked on the street out front. That badass older woman shuts the driver’s side door and walks around the back of it.
“That’s a beautiful, awesome-looking dog.”
“Yeah, he’s just a puppy still.”
“Is he a Great Dane?”
“Yeah, he’s a mix.”
“Me too.” We walk back inside together. “So I didn’t know what was going on with that woman . . .”
“Summa these bitches who come in here are fucking nuts. Ya can’t, like, call dibs on a machine you’re not using.”
“My grandma’s friend warned me about this.”
“When she started bossing you around, telling you to use that machine, that was when I decided to say something.”
“Haha yeah, I think she saw you do that drinking gesture. That was hilarious.”
“Oh yeah, she saw me. She was pissed. It seemed like she was drunk to me. When I first saw her, like from the side, I thought she had a black eye. Like her man gave her a shiner or something. Then I realized it was all that makeup.”
“Duuude [burying face in hands while tearing up].”
“Haha right? I was trying to figure out what the deal was. If y’all were together or what. I was like ‘I don’t think this handsome guy is with this fuckin’ . . . clown lookin’ bitch.’”
“I don’t know that person at all. Don’t know her name. Never seen her before in my life. She just started talking at me. Minding my business for me.”
“Yeah that’s what I thought. And I didn’t think she was your mom either.”
“Oh FUCK no. That would be the apple falling on another planet from the tree.”
“My mom’s gone. She was from here.”
“I live a little ways up north. I work with horses.”
“Damn. You and my mom would’ve gotten along I bet. Like as friends. You remind me of her friends. She was a really cool lady . . .”
“Aw man. That’s sweet. My mom’s been gone since August ‘94. [Long pause]. Have you ever seen The Drew Carey Show?”
“OH MY GOD THE WOMAN! WITH THE MAKEUP! YESSS!!!”
We both cock our heads back and wail. We touch elbows with open smiles, sustaining an eye contact familiar for how new we are in each other’s lives. We’ve always been right here, in this place together. I bag up my stuff and head out. I tell her I’ll see her around, knowing it’s true or at least wanting it to be.
But yesterday wasn’t over yet. I went to a gem shop and bought moonstones. Incense. Rejuvenating balm. From a woman with blue hair. Our birthdays were two days apart. Geminis in the gem shop. I was doing better than I ever had before, but I still needed all the help I could get, and I was trying new things, like not being so hard on myself, which my grandma said was probably why I was so unhappy all the time.
I got the fish fry back in town. A local known tweaker tried to talk to me at the bar. I let him talk, but I didn’t let him in. Stealth fighter jet (nlah). He asked me if I was drinking Guinness. I said I wasn’t and asked if he saw me drinking Guinness. He said yeah. I asked when. He said two years ago. I said I didn’t really drink anymore. He said he wasn’t trying to make me mad. I didn’t say anything.
Today, which was yesterday. I start this story in the morning. I walk down the stairs in the early afternoon and the tweaker goes “Hey buddy, beautiful day.”
I get in my car and drive to the guy I’m seeing casually’s house. It’s a beautiful day. And guess what? He just got the new Zelda. He plays it while I work on this story and his roommate browses Grindr. We hear a bad car crash happen outside. Screams. I go upstairs to his bedroom, shut the windows and close the blinds, lay in his bed and continue working on this story. I hear sirens outside. I peek through the blinds and see a group of kids on the corner watching emergency personnel tend to the victims. I lay back down.
I go downstairs and ask casual guy if he wants to eat. We go to a grocery store and everything is seventy-five cents, so I buy everything. We make sandwiches back at his place and I ask to eat them inside even though it’s a beautiful day. He tries the jalapeño chips I got. He says they’re not too spicy, and he’s thankful for me, because I get him to try new things, and trying new things is one of his core values. He asks me what my core values are. I say barbecue, sour cream and onion, sea salt and vinegar.
We go upstairs and have sex. I tell him I don’t want to spend the night, because I have a family commitment in the morning. He says that’s fine. I tell him I don’t want to hurt him, and that if he says he wants more than what this is, I’m going to stop seeing him. I tell him my core values are honesty, loyalty, friendship, respect, and boundaries. We have popsicles downstairs and I leave.
Driving home at nightfall towards a crescent sliver moon low above a hazy orange gloam, I pass at least a dozen cops. Getting into town, I pass an SUV with a missing front bumper, a decal across the top of its windshield that reads “BUT YOU DIDN’T DIE . . . YET.”
Tomorrow, which was today. I slept in. I had coffee. I went and had brunch with my family. My cousin made Belgian waffles and a bunch of fixings from scratch. Strawberries, caramelized bananas, blueberry compote. Whipped cream. Scrambled farm fresh eggs that deep, rich color. It was bomb. I sat and ate and talked with my family in a circle. The world was on the verge of eating its own head. It seemed like everyone we knew was either dying of cancer or in the process of getting it. We had to admit, a lot of it was hilarious. Ridiculous. We gossiped and reminisced. I cracked some good jokes, and I laughed hard at what people said. I imagined my dead mom and boyfriend there with us. He told me he wanted to come here and meet my family and see this place and that never happened, but I know they would’ve loved him, because he loved me. I imagined my grandma imagining my grandpa and mom there. When my mom was dying, my grandma showed her old pictures from when she was growing up on the farm with all her siblings, to remember with her. My mom started crying. She said “we were all together then.” A few months before she died, I told my mom my boyfriend had died. She started crying and said “I’m so sad for you” and held me. I wasn’t sure if telling her would mean anything. I didn’t want to just make her sad, only to watch her forget moments later what she was sad about. But I had to tell her. I had to let her be my mom.
Sometimes I can feel the presence of the dead so strong it’s like they’re breathing on me and touching me when I close my eyes. Like how a dream feels real when you’re dreaming it and don’t yet know it’s a dream. You’re just there, in that place, doing things. Just like I’m here, at my place, doing this. I’m talking to you. This is just from me to you. It’s not for anybody else. It’s not for them. It’s for us. This is still our world. We’ve always been here. Forget the people with somehow both too much and not enough makeup. Standing behind you, claiming what’s not theirs as theirs, looking over your shoulder, waiting for your light to go out. Forget the people trying to make their world your world, what they want, what you want. Forget them. The sirens outside. They’re not about you. Let them miss you. Let these thoughts of yourself pass by. I have to go. The sun is coming up now. And it’s going to shine. It’s going to fucking shine whether you want it to or not. Nlah.