Tallulah met a guy in the laundry room of their building. She saw him there all the time actually. They must’ve been on the same laundry schedule because he was always there when she was. She didn’t mind; he was insanely good-looking. He was tall and broad and freckly. He wore sweatpants, but he didn’t look like a slob, and he always had a baseball hat on. He would smile at her when she came in with his incredibly white teeth, but that was about it. They never spoke; just silently did their laundry in tandem. That was fine. Tallulah had been dating Chad. Now that Chad had broken things off with her so that he could finally date his piano teacher, Tallulah started a conversation with Hot Laundry Guy. She introduced herself and asked him about the team on his hat. She knew next to nothing about Major League Baseball teams. She knew that her father liked the Red Sox and was a big fan of Jackie Robinson, but that was about it. Hot Laundry Guy’s hat declared him a fan of the Giants, which she knew nothing about. She asked how they were looking for the upcoming season. He looked at her like she was deranged. It was possible it was too early to ask. It was also possible his preferred team was either amazing, so it should’ve been obvious, or terrible, so it still should’ve been obvious.
“You don’t strike me as a huge baseball fan,” he remarked. On the one hand, that was definitely true. On the other, she slightly resented the assumption that, as an aesthetically grungy twenty-something woman, she was incapable of being interested in sports, specifically ones that occurred outdoors.
“Oh yeah, I think it’s super boring, but I do like how closely it’s linked to hotdogs,” Tallulah replied, deciding to let it go. He laughed. They ended up having a lovely conversation for the remainder of his wash cycle. Afterward, when he had finished dumping his wet jeans into a laundry basket to hang them on the drying rack in his apartment, he asked for her number. Tallulah, amazed that she had managed to charm him throughout the course of a conversation that had begun with the topic of baseball, gave it to him.
When she got back to her apartment upstairs, she broke the good news to her sister, Sybil, and Rosalyn, the three of who were watching some Japanese show with subtitles. Apparently it was riveting. Priscilla and Rosalyn had been invested in it for weeks. Tallulah had tried to jump in partway, but then asked too many questions, according to Priscilla, and was now banned from their viewing parties. Tallulah made them pause it so that she could tell them what had happened to her, but she also derived a lot of vindictive joy from it. Sybil hadn’t seen the show previously and yet she was allowed to watch it with them, a fact she was quick to bring up.
“She doesn’t ask any questions,” Priscilla explained haughtily. “She just gets it.”
“I’m not even paying attention,” Sybil interjected, holding up her phone so that they could see she was texting Chris and Suze in a group message titled “Super Best Friends”, so named, apparently, by Chris. “I’m just here for the snacks.”
She had a bowl of cheesy popcorn in her lap so Tallulah believed her.
“Whatever,” she said dismissively. “You know that hot guy I see in the laundry room all the time? Hot Laundry Guy?”
“What a pointless nickname,” Rosalyn interrupted. Tallulah glared at her.
“I think we might have the same number of underwear or something because we are always down there at the same time,” Tallulah continued.
“Or maybe Hot Laundry Guy is stalking you,” Priscilla offered. “Maybe he countered the number of underwear you own one time and now he knows exactly when you need to do laundry.”
“Nope,” Tallulah returned. “Because sometimes I just buy new underwear instead of washing the ones I already own.”
“Sometimes?” Rosalyn repeated dubiously, one eyebrow raised.
“Almost always until I run out of sweaters,” Tallulah corrected herself.
“Yeah, that seems right,” Rosalyn nodded.
“Anyway, Hot Laundry Guy asked for my number,” Tallulah said, getting to the point of her story.
“Does Hot Laundry Guy have a real identity now?” Sybil asked. Tallulah nodded.
“He name is Rodney and he’s a firefighter,” she answered.
“Rodney?” Sybil repeated incredulously. “What twenty-something person is named Rodney in 2017?”
“Yes, that’s a very good point, Sybil,” Tallulah replied shrewdly, pointedly emphasizing Sybil’s own name. Sybil was quiet for a moment.
“Alright, fair,” she conceded.
Tallulah and Rodney went out to dinner a week later. They had a lovely time and afterward he walked her back to her apartment. He claimed it was because he was a gentleman as they stood in front of her apartment door in the hallway.
“We live in the same building,” Tallulah replied dryly, rolling her eyes. “This is literally just two floors out of your way.”
“True, but we took the stairs,” Rodney pointed out.
“You’re a firefighter,” Tallulah returned.
“Yeah, but I don’t like climbing on my off days,” Rodney shrugged. Tallulah thought about arguing again, but the door was wrenched open behind her, revealing both Priscilla and Rosalyn.
“Hi,” Priscilla greeted them, sounding slightly out of breath.
“What’s wrong with you?” Tallulah asked, frowning.
“Nothing,” Priscilla answered with an airy wave of her hand.
“She wanted to see what Rodney looks like, but the peep hole is partially covered by this giant-ass Easter wreath your mother gave us, even though it’s like a month away,” Rosalyn explained, ignoring the irritated look Priscilla shot her way. “So then I pointed out that it would be real easy to see what he looks like if the door was open. And then I opened the door.”
“Makes sense,” Rodney nodded at Rosalyn, before holding his arms out at his sides. “Well, this is what I look like.”
“You’re very handsome,” Rosalyn assured him, leaning back against the open door.
“This is my insane roommate Rosalyn and my sister Priscilla,” Tallulah explained, pointing to each of them. Rodney shook both their hands. Priscilla at least had the decency to look embarrassed. Rosalyn, on the other hand, accepted his handshake with a casualness only the truly bonkers were able to maintain.
“It’s nice that you have roommates,” Rodney told Tallulah as Priscilla and Rosalyn continued to look on. “I live alone.”
“I might as well very shortly,” was Tallulah’s dark response, a pointed glare at Priscilla and Rosalyn. Rosalyn just shrugged.
“I know I only work at an outdoor sporting goods store, selling kayaks to approximately no one plus the incredibly dim-witted granola types, but last time I checked, you were but a record store shelving jockey and could not afford to live on your own,” she said to Tallulah.
“Hey! I also work cash sometimes,” Tallulah countered.
“I think you think that’s better, but from one retail bitch to another, it is sadly not,” Rosalyn returned.
“I would give it some time and a long, hard look at yourself before you decided to get roommates,” Priscilla advised Rodney over Tallulah and Rosalyn’s bickering. He merely nodded.