By Jeff Becraft
When I headed off to college back in the day, I had this imagination in my mind (all kinds of brainy things go on in there) that the way I was going to meet my future wife was going to be in the laundromat (which is how you spell it – laundromat. I spelled it laundrymat… since you are doing laundry… but the computer told me that was wrong. So where did the “o” come from? I mean, do I now need to say, “I’m going to do my laundro now?”)
Anyway, the way it was going to play out was – I would be doing my laundry and she would be doing her laundry on the other side of the laundromat, and I would look up… and our eyes would meet… and we would both know that this was it.
Don’t be judging me…
The way it actually played out was like this: I hauled my dirty laundry into the laundromat on campus for the first time as an 18-year-old freshman. Now, you have to keep in mind from the above paragraphs what was going on in the back of mind. I was probably even nervous.
Now, back in the day, there were no such things as detergent pods or even liquid detergent. What it was, was powder in a box. At least it was supposed to be powder. After a while, it would fuse together into limestone… just waiting for someone to come along and chisel some president’s head into it.
Inside the box was a little plastic scoop. So there I am as a young male looking for a wife in the laundromat, and I am scraping the limestone block trying to get it to turn back into powder so I can do my laundry.
The scoop gets caught on the limestone and flicks soap powder up into my eye.
We now have happy boy here, with soap powder burning in his eye, trying not to dance around, and jump up and down, or bend over grabbing his eye and leaving the girls wondering, “Why is that guy in here doing the hokey pokey?”
I mean, what girl would be attracted to some guy wincing in pain, jumping all around and crying like a baby? As Robin Hood said, “Faint heart never won fair lady.”
There I am, eyes filling up with tears, stuffing laundry into the machine as fast as I can and ramming in quarters so I can get back to my room and rinse my eye out.
Well, I never did meet my future wife in the laundromat. And come to think of it, I don’t think I ever even met any girl at the laundromat. I guess I was traumatized after that first incident.
What did happen is that I later met a woman of deep character while at school. Her nickname was “Zap.” And when I was talking to others about her, I would always say, “I am really impressed with Zap.”
Now, the phrase “impressed with” probably won’t make it into any novel or movie. But next month, we will celebrate our 37-year anniversary. I am still impressed with her. For us, there has been the good, the bad, and the ugly… and through it all, beauty.
On June 5th will be my parents’ 68th wedding anniversary and even in the midst of severe health challenges, they continue to model what real love is.
So in a world where there are movies and novels and imaginations and social media, there is still much to be said about choosing to love. That is where the real beauty is.
And for the record… we now use liquid detergent.
Jeff Becraft is the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].