In Association with

An Exorcism Needed During the Fluff Cycle

By Matt Sedik

Ok, this is just plain messed up.

I'm standing here, stuck at a laundromat in the Outer Sunset on a Tuesday night, and these machines have decided to ignore that little thing we call time.

Lemme explain:

I get here. I have three loads to wash: darks, lights and sheets. And towels (Here we are on the eve of a new millenium and while we fight for equality, we still segregate our laundry...) Anyhoo, I load three adjacent machine up: Maytag Commercials with "Computer Touch Control", which means there's an LED readout and some crusty black buttons on a shiny metal plate. The washers are marked numbers 5, 6 and 7 (5 holding my darks, 6 my white and 7 my sheets. And towels.)

I feed the Maytags their required diet of five quarters each, throwing in a capful of Tide Ultra for good measure. I punch up the appropriate fabric settings and get what Maytag calls a "time estimate": 35 minutes, 26 minutes and 26 minutes. Ok, I'm used to this discrepancy: even though machines 5 and 7 have the same exact settings, cold-cold, there's still a nine minute difference in wash time.

Fine. I've come to live with the fact no two washing machines are the same.

Then I go sit down, trying to find a Photography magazine or National Geographic printed some time in the nineties. There's a baseball game on the TV overhead, but at the moment the little digital temperature readout/required coin window on the Coke machine next to me is more interesting. (The 20 oz. bottles are a buck a piece, in case you were wondering.)

After what seems like a near eternity (again, a side effect of this laundromat. Possibly even all laundromats) I get up to check my machines. A quick scan across "Computer Touch Control" readouts gets me: 23, 14 and 17 minutes.


Suddenly time has decided to play hard to get. Keep. Whatever. Maybe it's some kind of race between machines 6 and 7. 6 has just taken the lead. Maybe 7 is a little older, and is a bit winded. Or maybe 7 has decided to get the job done just right, and is taking a little longer with my sheets. Thank you 7, I knew you were my favorite number for a reason.

I go back and sit down, this time looking at all the tattered postings taped to the wall next to the Coke machine. The messages vary from "lose weight fast" to someone selling a 1991 Volkswagon Corronado (midnight blue, low mileage.) After a few more minutes of browsing I decide to check back with the machines. Now the counters read: 12, 7 and 6.

Great. Now 7 is in the lead, but only by a slim margin. This could be close. I think it's ditched the "cleen sheets lead to a clean soul" Zen type thinking and just wants to stick it to good ol' 6. 5, on the other hand, is chugging away without a care in the world. If 5 were an appliance, it wouldn't be a blender...

Wait. I guess Five is an appliance... Nevermind.

Unfortunately, I missed the last lap to see who came in first. I was outside pacing around the sidewalk, avoiding cracks, trying not to break my mother's back. (Ok, so maybe she got a sharp pain or two, but nothing serious.)

Now comes the drying part. This is the most tedious segment of the whole activity. Well, not moving the wet clothes to the dryer (number 41 top and bottom, and 42 top), or adding those little anti-cling sheets. Instead, once again I must face them. The Scourge of All That Is Sacred and Pure On This Earth...

The Boxers From Hell.

They don't look very menacing. In fact, they're a nice pair of Banana Republic boxers covered in little yellow sunflowers. But those sunflowers... they hide the black, beating heart.

If Satan wears boxers, he surely wears these. I mean, it'd be too easy to wear giant, threatening boxers adorned with pitchforks and upside-down crosses. That's like wearing cut-up jeans and a frilly leather jacket to a Bon Jovi concert. There's just no style there. I mean, that's what people expect you to wear. But sunflowers... that's like wearing a Member's Only jacket to a MegaDeath show. Or a Ricky Martin shirt to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. That's a statement. That takes mucho cajones, my friend. Cajones adorned with sunflowers.

And these flowers show no mercy.

It's not like I enjoy wearing them. They're not like my Martini Boxers, or my Saint Bernards Wearing Little Reindeer Horn Boxers. Those are power clothing, for special occasions. These Boxers From Hell, I know that when it's time to wear them, it's time to do laundry. And every time I do laundry, the same thing happens... Damn these cursed boxers!

I can admit it, I wear sunflower boxers. It doesn't make me less of a man. I mean, they're Evil, right? So maybe I'm some kinda men's underwear martyr. Hey, if I'm wearing them, it means one less guy has to. I'm doing him a favor. Stupid Christmas presents. Why'd I even open that box anyway...

I wash these boxers, which isn't a problem. It's only the drying part that haunts me. I try to hide underworld undergarments beneath stacks of wet clothes during the wheeled cart trip to the dryer. I'm a pro at it. I can pull them out of the washer and obscure their view almost instantly. I've had years of practice. I can even get them into the dryer first, where they're tossed into the far, nether regions at the back, covered in t-shirts, jeans and socks. Tossing a dryer sheet on top is like icing on the cake. I can check from all angles and those Boxers From Hell can't be seen. At all. Nada.

But as the popularity of the Backstreet Boys illustrates, Evil cannot be held down forever.

Sometimes it takes 10-15 minutes (halfway into the dry cycle.) Other times, it happens right away. But by some sheer force of will those Boxers From Hell manage to fight their way to the front of the machine, right to that scratched window, where they park it and spend the rest of the time in plain view. Little sunflowers whirling around. If I listen hard enough, I can hear them mocking me. It's like Evil has somehow possessed over my dryer (Number 42 top) and is tipping the scales. Who knows, the final battle might be taking place in there. Maybe I should add another dryer sheet. Get it blessed by a priest or something.

Who can I call to perform an exorcism on a pair of underwear? Can the ceremony happen while they're still in the dryer? What would something like that cost? What if I don't wear them anymore? Hide them away, bury them, so I'll never have to wear them again. Seal them in a tomb (ok, a Ziplock bag) locked away until the end of time.

Wait, time... maybe these Boxers From Hell are the culprit! Maybe they're the ones tampering with my Maytags. Why did I never think of this before?!? Maybe this also explains why my watch batteries seems to die only weeks after buying them. And why I'm sometimes late to meetings. These boxers are affecting time like a magnet to a compass, making it all screwy (a highly technical term, I checked.) Poor Maytag washers. I bet they never imagined that their products would go up against the Lord of Darkness (there's no testing something like that!)

I think I need a priest who also moonlights as a repairman...