I decided to drive back to Iowa to do laundry. I did that to buy groceries, too. Somehow, I’ve rationalized that this is more convenient. Case in point: they have working coin machines in Iowa. They have 24-hour Laundromats in Iowa. I have no problem venturing out-of-state for these reasons. I also tell no one of my actions for these reasons.
They have flat-screen televisions and snack bars and a woman wearing Branson, MO t-shirts stuffing fried chicken into her mouth. There are elderly women with butterfly clips in their hair and tube tops barely clinging to their sagging breasts. There are balding men with large combat boots, banging machines with their fists, demanding their quarters be returned immediately. There are small children climbing into baskets, and there are teenage girls smacking their gum in boredom.
Cigarette smoke and lavender soap come together in the air as Bonnie Tyler sings over the loudspeaker and angry men order buttered popcorn and chomp down in between growls.
The woman in the Branson, MO t-shirt chokes on her fried chicken. Coughing wildly, her husband slams her back with an open palm. A loud thump escapes with each slap and she washes down the caught chicken with Mountain Dew.
Children stop screaming and running and begin to stare. Gum-chomping girls chew faster, the drama filling their imaginations as they debate documenting the incident on Facebook.
I almost feel superior in saying there is no other place on Earth like this. I choose to go out-of-state to see it and experience it and I convince myself that I am witnessing magic. Women wander around without shoes and husbands and wives share similar broad shoulders and buzz cuts. The burnt orange folks tend to separate their colors from their whites.