I take it as a compliment, that not one but two people stopped and asked me for directions in German this evening. The first one probably had to do with the fact that I was humping my laundry up the street, socks hanging out of my pack like a newly bought bouquet; the second with the fact that, having had the big glass of wine, I was weaving down the wide, cobblestone sidewalks with rosy Alpine cheeks. (By the way, what does “Einschtein, bitte” mean? And if the word schmuck means “penis,” then why is it on so many storefronts? )
Anyway. It was a crazy idea, shoving my laundry into my backpack and another plastic bag, and wandering the neighborhood looking for a laundromat. I’ve been around these blocks some, and I haven’t seen such a thing. At one point, though, I walked by a trio of hipsters talking on the sidewalk outside a store, and realized that they were leaning up against empty washing machines, all in a line outdoors. Through their legs I saw that the machines were Miele, and empty, and—a really good sign—their portholes were wet and steamy.
I lost my nerve. I couldn’t do it: “Excuse me, but are these washing machines, like, for, like, strange Americans?” One of them, a pretty, spikey-haired brunette in black, looked at me, and I ran up the street, my socks bouncing on my back. It’s good that Julia finally taught me how to wash my underwear out in the sink like a pro, or tomorrow I’d be using a wife-beater as a diaper.