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Today was a cold, rainy, late February Sunday.  I was feeling dismal until I decided to escape by pursuing an email I got from an online lingerie store where I buy the only bra that works for me, now that Lady Grace in Brookline has closed.  I proceeded to order three swimsuits even though I haven’t visited a pool or a natural body of water for years. My mood improved instantly. So I ordered two more.  Shipping was free and it was all twenty-five percent off.  If those aren’t good enough reasons to bite, I don’t know what are.  What would we do without retail therapy?

Not only that, but I nearly won at “Washer Wars”, the game we in my building play every weekend.  There are only two washers and two driers for all thirty-two apartments.  My usual strategy is to avoid the stress by doing my laundry at 7:00 AM on a weekday, but this never fails to put me in a crappy mood for the rest of the day.  So, tired of being cowardly, today I decided to have a go at it.  At this moment, one washer was empty and the other one had one minute left on its cycle.  I ran upstairs to get my load and ran back down with it, all in the space of two minutes.  But somehow my wily neighbor beat me to it.  She must have been on the lookout as well because by the time I got back down there, she was loading her clothes into the free one, so I had no choice but to empty the other one.  (I know from experience that the woman in #25 considers emptying her load an affront to her personal space on a par with sexual assault.  I said a silent prayer that this was not her stuff and hoped there would be no week-long surliness or worse recrimination.)
 
My neighbor’s cycle was still one minute ahead of mine. Nevertheless, I raced down again just before our cycles were over, hoping to claim the one empty drier.  I planted myself in front of it so my intention couldn’t be missed.  But exactly as her timer hit zero, she walked in.  Unfortunately, she was not intimidated in the slightest by my presence.  There was nothing I could do but cede the drier to her because my washer still had one minute on it.  Game over.  At least there appeared to be no contenders for the other drier, which had thirty minutes to go, so I retreated to my “barracks”, resolving to come back in half an hour and claim my spoils.  I still had the evening ahead of me and this chore was out of the way, so I considered myself victorious.
 
My otherwise unassuming neighbor has an uncanny knack for this particular challenge.  Her door is directly opposite mine, yet on my first trip down I saw no sign of her leaving her apartment. She must have been on her way already, and she takes the back stairs.  She’s a stealthy one.    She remarked casually to me today, during the attempt we made at pleasant conversation designed to disguise the keen competition we were engaged in, that she rarely waits long for a machine.  I took this as ill-concealed braggadocio and swagger, all part of the game.  Privately, I thought: “No wonder!  She evidently has the room under surveillance.” 
 
The laundry room gives me a glimpse into the lives of my fellow tenants.  The load I removed from the washer and drier was flannel sheets. Seriously?  This building is so over heated I sleep naked with the windows open all year round.  And then there’s someone who hangs a pair of those spanx underpants with the butt-boosting pads, on a drying rack in this laundry room for all to see.  She (?) wishes she had my curves!  She can have them!  I’ve been dieting for the past twelve months trying to get rid of them.
 
I figure I have about three months left to get in shape for those swimsuits, which will be stored in a bag in my closet until water becomes a reality in my life.  Clever me, I ordered them a size too large so I can feel slim when I try them on. (Actually, they tell you to.)  After all, their real purpose is to flatter me, not enable my swimming. They may never escape these four walls, but they will have accomplished their true mission.
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