Warholian Voyeurism Infiltrates the Laundromat

Andy Warhol peered out at her from another man’s t-shirt as she folded her own laundry. Andy Warhol must remain a voyeur even in death. His penetrating gaze assuring you that he knows everything that’s going on at the party. Only this ain’t no party. Anything but, in fact. Because despite Faye’s inhabitance in a gentrified, therefore overpriced (after being briefly affordable) neighborhood, this was not the type of laundromat that served alcohol or coffee. It was garden variety in its severity, run by an elderly Asian couple that constantly stared at its customers with the contempt of a jeweler forced to take out his wares despite knowing full well that the “patron” in question isn’t going to buy anything. She couldn’t understand why, considering people had no choice but to shell out to do their laundry. Whether it was in the DIY method or the dropoff service fashion.

For Faye, despite a recent promotion to junior editor at Bloomsbury, it didn’t mean she was about to lose sight of the value of her longstanding penny-pinching in a town that made it virtually impossible to do so. She had to be stalwart in her non-expenditures if she was ever going to make it the hell out of Brooklyn and move to Lower Manhattan like the civilized person she wanted to be. Because she couldn’t deny to herself much longer that most of the borough was an over glorified version of adult daycare. One giant playground meant to distract millennials from the doom of their existence. The bleakness of a generation that would never have the wealth or dignity of their forebears. That’s why they needed little trinkets like mugs that read “If Britney Can Survive 2007 You Can Survive Today” and bars with gimmicks galore (like one decorated entirely in stuffed dead animals and called The Taxidermist). Faye was sick of it. She wanted this phase of her New York life to be over. But it seemed as though it never would be.

She wondered if Andy Warhol ever felt this bored by New York. Well, probably not after he got shot. But before then, when the inevitable La Dolce Vita feeling surely must have set in. The realization that every night and every day recovering from it thereafter will always be the same iteration on a theme: let me pretend that my addiction to escapism is rooted in the notion of “having fun.” But Warhol never had to live in Brooklyn. What the fuck could he really know about boredom? At least in Manhattan, a certain amount of anonymity was to be expected. Not like the small microcosm that was this inexplicably coveted by youth nexus. A case in point of that smallness was about to be proven when Faye realized that the Warhol shirt’s owner, who just stepped back into the laundromat after smoking a cigarette, was a man-child (that’s the only way to describe them all) she had a brief dalliance with that had only ended a couple of weeks ago. She suspected that he had already blocked her on his phone in all ways after one too many direct messages sent late on a Thursday evening when her drunkenness prompted a particularly ranting mood. It accused him of an inability to make time for her when she consistently seemed to be able to in spite of her own hectic work schedule. Of course, it wasn’t phrased so elegantly as all that. She couldn’t, in fact, rightly recall how it was phrased as she immediately deleted all the messages after the exchange, some semblance of the sober self within knowing that she would be embarrassed by it tomorrow and forever after.

So lo and behold, there he was: Lucas. The kind of pretentious prat who actually went by his full name instead of a diminutive. She knew that he saw her, yet was deliberately avoiding the act of making eye contact. She, in turn, followed his lead and continued folding her items–at the moment, that happened to be a pair of black lace panties–as though he wasn’t right there. To make matters more awkward, just as he walked past her, the confined space was made all the more confined when a fellow laundromat patron backed into Lucas and knocked him right into Faye, the underwear sailing out of her hand and onto the dirty linoleum floor, trapped between a color that was either gray or yellow. Faye was mortified, lost for words as Lucas jumped back from her as though extended contact with her might cause him to contract a disease. Incidentally, she was waiting for her STD test to come back after suspecting him to be slightly less than pure when she saw a handful of used condoms in his bathroom trash. He had never shown her the courtesy of using one when they fucked so she knew they couldn’t have been yielded from their own “sessions.” What’s more, he lived alone (part of the reason she found him so initially beguiling).

Although he claimed to work at a luxury branding company on Park Avenue, she suspected he must have had parental backing to be able to afford his lavish lodging situation. At least, that’s what she had to tell herself to feel slightly less inadequate about being thirty and still having three other roommates in order to save any modicum of her salary–expected alms from an industry as fledgling as publishing. Finding her wits somewhere between the point where Lucas grimaced at her and realizing her underwear was still on the ground (being appraised in particular by the Asian husband half of the proprietor duo, who was simpering at the garment), she made a beeline to pick up her newly soiled undies. Perhaps only Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles had ever known such panty shame as this.

As she went to bend down and pick them up, she could swear she saw Warhol–that sadistic Fagula–smirking at her. No, Warhol had never grown bored of New York. He was too addicted to the endless fodder of witnessing other people’s shame while he himself tended to orchestrate the setting and opportunity for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s