Thursday, June 28, 2007

Breaking Up With the Dry Cleaner

Steve usually takes care of dropping off and picking up the dry cleaning. But, as with everything else, when Steve went to Iraq, I assumed the duty. After a few weeks, there was an odd exchange. The elderly Chinese lady at the counter looked at the name on the ticket and said, "Where you husband?"

"He's out of town for a while," I said vaguely and managed a wan smile.

"He so nice," she said as she handed me my dry cleaning. As I walked out of the shop, I felt like maybe I had noticed an emphasis on the "he," as in "HE's so nice, so why aren't you?" But I convinced myself that I was imagining it. Certainly, she couldn't have anything against me. She hardly knew me.

A couple of weeks later, I returned to the shop. Same story, but with increased hostility. "Where you husband?"

"He's out of the country for a few months," I offered.

"He come back?" she demanded. Her tone undeniably held the accusation that I had driven him off.

"Yes, yes, he'll be back in the summer."

"HE so nice," she glared at me.

I hadn't imagined it. She hated me. What the hell? I always had my ticket, paid my bill, said thank you. Clearly that wasn't enough for her. So I broke up with them -- I started going to the place across the street, which did a much better job at a lower price.

But when Steve came back, he reassumed the dry cleaning duty and began patronizing the hateful old lady again. He took my clothes there and I turned a blind eye. But now, I have to draw the line.

They shrank my seersucker pants.

It's over.