Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Before went south, introducing its new format and cutting back on real content (favoring instead a dumbass thing called a "blog," which anyone with a brain knows means "half-baked opinion drivel"), it had a great weekly feature called Object Lust. The premise was that writers would wax poetic on an object they owned that improved the quality of their lives. Not only did this feature introduce me to some cool new shit that I subsequently started lusting after myself, it encouraged me to look around my petite West Village boite to evaluate the objects I already had in my life.

One of them seemed to fit the bill perfectly, so I wrote up a little piece for their website and submitted it for potential publication. Quite literally the week I submitted my piece was the week the website decided to eliminate the column and thus my lust went unspoken. Well, time for that to change. So today we pick up where Salon dropped off and we introduce a new feature on Chat with R&R called "Lustables." The inaugural column will feature the lust of an object (hey, why else have a blog if you're not going to use it as a place to dump your writing, right?) But in the future Lustables can be about anything we really really love or really really want, like people, a free Tibet, or for harm to come to an overexposed hotel heiress and her little dog, too. And now, the object of my lust for your perusal:

The Haier Portable 6-3/5-lb. Compact Washer

I can make it rain. All I have to do is run out of clean underpants. You see I learned I had the power to change weather a year ago when I moved into an apartment building with no laundry machines on the premises. Thereafter, whenever I had to go to the self-serve Laundromat down the block, carting my dirty laundry on my back, looking like a shamed, turned-out Mrs. Claus, inevitably it would start raining. And after I’d gone through $17 worth of quarters to dry the stuff, generally a monsoon would touch down just in time for my walk home.

Whenever I mentioned my washing woes to friends, they would encourage me to use the drop off service offered by any Korean laundry facility worth its soap. But I have a thing about people I don’t know touching my underwear. I just can’t condone it. So when one day a few weeks ago, the women working at the Bank Street Self-Serve Laundromat waggled their fingers at me and said, “No self-serve! No self-serve,” I was wet, exhausted and ready to pick a fight. “What do you mean, ‘no self-serve’?” I asked with indignation. “I’ve been doing my laundry here for a year and besides, it says right out there on the huge sign above your door, “Self-Serve Laundromat.” To this, one of the women replied, “No self-serve!” Then, she pointed to a new sign, handwritten with a sharpie on half a sheet of notebook paper that indeed read, “No self-serve!”

Beaten back by the unassailable authority of a Post-It Note, I raised the soiled white flag. Still dirty and now fuming, I trekked back home and typed the word “washing machine,” into Google. Within 0.11 seconds, I’d stopped cursing and was on my way to a fresher, cleaner me -- I spotted’s listing of portable washing machines, and clicked on Target’s offering: The Haier Portable 6-3/5-lb. Compact Washer for $199.00.

I couldn’t figure out if that meant the machine itself weighed 6-3/5-lb. or that’s how much laundry I could wash, but at about 2.5 feet high and 1.5 feet wide, it didn’t seem to matter since the cute little thing would fit in my closet! I then read five out of six glowing customer reviews (all written by what seemed like very nice women), most, who seemed to have done extensive research on the subject. They wrote this machine was by far the best they’d found. The sixth woman said the machine worked well at first, yet she later had problems with the spin cycle. But I was willing to take my chances, even that fifth dentist found something to complain about.

My portable dream machine arrived three days later. The only snag I hit in the set up was with the water-inlet hose, which attaches to the sink. It took me a little while before I realized I’d have to purchase a wrench to untwist the regular drain filter so the machine’s hose could screw right into the faucet. But as soon as I got that working, each time I set that spin cycle washing, I start twirling around my apartment.

A washing machine in my very own apartment! Not only is the whole concept novel to this New Yorker, a girl who’d previously assumed washing machines were a luxury item available only to million-dollar co-op owners and fancy-pants people who probably get their “girl” to do the wash anyway, but the little thing actually works.

In fact, it’s remarkably easy to operate, and stows away in my small coat closet. The only problem is that I now find myself recommending the portable washer so frequently, the number of conversations I’ve had about other people’s dirty laundry has become a bit disturbing. Still, I know that if by raising the subject I can help others come clean, like the muse of that naughty Nine Inch Nails song, I’ll get them closer to God.

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