This was my first weekend in my new place, and now begins the chore of getting settled in. I should explain that, when I moved, I got rid of all the clutter I had built up over the years, and some of the things I jettisoned, I have to replace. Basically, I look at this move as a fresh start. I've been busy getting new furniture and all sorts of things, but one thing I haven't gotten yet is a new washer and dryer.

It dawned on me Sunday morning that I either had to do laundry, or go out and buy a bunch of new clothes. I won't claim I've never done that, but I decided to be a grown-up for once, and I went in search of what they now call a "launderette." In my youth, they were known as "washaterias" or "laundrymats." No matter what you call them, it's quite an experience.

I tend to get up very early, even on the weekends, so at about 6 a.m. Sunday morning, I did a quick Google search for a place to do my laundry. As luck would have it, I found one that is open 24 hours a day. Perfect, I thought as I prepared to drive across town and kill a couple of hours watching washers and dryers.

When I arrived at my destination, I noticed that there were a few people in there already, including one very nice man who talked non-stop. I couldn't understand a word he was saying, but he seemed friendly enough. He would mumble something or other at me, then laugh outrageously. What was I to do? I laughed along with him. I asked him if he knew the score of the McNeese game, and he informed me that it was 13 to 7, but he didn't tell me which team had which score. He told me the score with such finality that I knew that was all the information I was going to get.

These modern-day launderettes are pretty much automated these days, and I was quite happy to know that it didn't matter that I didn't stop for cash on the way there. I was in luck! All I was going to have to do was tell the computer which washers and dryers I was using, swipe my card, and all would be good. Well, the touch screen on the kiosk didn't work. I was standing there hitting the damn buttons with my fist, and nothing was happening. I looked at an imaginary camera and said, "Really?" It slowly dawned on me that I was going to have to go to the bank.

I loaded everything back into the car and took off for the bank. We all know that the least you can get from a teller is $20, so I headed back to the laundry knowing that I was about to have to get that $20 changed into quarters. I did so and, pockets bulging with quarters, I approached the vending machine to get some detergent. I dropped in my money and pressed the button for the detergent. I pushed it again and again, but nothing issued forth. They were sold out of detergent. Off to a store we go.

I loaded everything back into my car and finally found an open store where I paid 5 times the actual retail price for a small box of detergent. By now, I was beginning to feel that I was on Candid Camera. Surely, at any moment, Alan Funt was going to step out of a back room and tell me it was all a joke. That didn't happen.

Finally, I got my clothes loaded into the washer and settled in, ready to be bored out of my mind while the clothes washed. It was then that I noticed that there was a convenience store practically next door. Coffee! Coffee would help me weather this experience. I started walking to the store, ready to have myself revived by a hot cup of coffee. The store was closed.

Right there on the door was a sign that said they opened at 8 a.m.. Given that it was already 8:15, I left in a huff, and went in search of coffee. What is it with these convenience stores not opening until late on Sunday morning? I finally found the much-needed coffee. At that point, I could have used a shot of Jameson in it, but if you can't find coffee at that time of the morning, where is one supposed to find Jameson?

After what seemed to be a lifetime, the washers containing my clothes clicked off. Time to dry. I loaded my clothes in one of those baskets that cannot be steered in any direction. It doesn't matter if you pull it or push it, that damn basket is going where it wants to go.

I eventually wrestled the basket over to the dryer. I reached into my pocket for another handful of quarters. It was then that I noticed that, nowhere on the dryer did it say how much it was to dry clothes. I figured a couple of bucks would do it, so I popped in 8 quarters and hit Start. The dryer came to life and started spinning the clothes around. I turned to go back and sit down when I heard the dryer stop. I figured that I didn't put in enough money, so I started loading quarters in the little slot. There was just one problem: the little slot was backed up with quarters.

I started pounding on the coin return button and quarters started trying to come out, but they kept getting jammed up in the coin return. There was no way to get the change out of that little slot. After looking around to make sure no one was looking, I gave the "coin return" button a really good smack and quarters began pouring out on the floor. I'm sure I looked more than foolish chasing 8 quarters. The coins were rolling in every direction and rolling under things, but I managed to find most of them.

After cleansing my mind with a well-placed string of dirty words, the dryer kicked into action. Everything was looking up. Enter Miss Loudmusic. I don't know what her name was, but she obviously felt that everyone in the place wanted to hear whatever the hell it was she was listening to. You know, one of those people that seem to think the only reason I don't like their taste in music is because I've never heard it at full volume!

The bottom line is that, when my clothes were dry, I didn't stick around to fold them, hang them, or anything else. I shoved my clean laundry into the basket, loaded it into the car, and got away from there as fast as I could.

Have you ever visited one of those places? It'll suck the life right out of you. Today, not tomorrow or the next day. TODAY, I'm going to get a new washer and dryer. I do not recommend the launderette for the faint of heart.

Of course, when I got home, my neighbor saw me unloading my clothes from the car and he said to me, "You should have just come over and used my washer and dryer."

I still have a pocket full of quarters. I sound like a tambourine when I walk.