The emperor — or at least this writer — has no clothes (well, fewer clothes) because somebody stole his laundry

Someone stole my laundry.

This seems amusing.

I think of the scene from “The Big Lebowski,” when Walter throws a bag full of his dirty underwear — the whites — to the supposed kidnappers of the Big Lebowski’s trophy wife.

What must my thief have thought when he yanked open the drawstring to find the wrinkled clothing of a big-and-tall man wadded up and awaiting prospering cleaning and folding?

I tore some cartilage in my left knee during the pandemic. Degenerative arthritis and morbid obesity combine to make walking and standing difficult for me.

So, I pay for a service to collect my laundry every two weeks.

The company washes and folds my clothes, hangs my shirts, and delivers them back to my sainted property manager, Pierce, who sets the clean clothes in my apartment.

I, or a friend, sets the bag out the night before the pickup. The bag is tucked in the corner of a brick wall inside the vestibule around the property manager’s door.

You wouldn’t come across the bag accidentally. You would have to be snooping around looking for something.

Why you would think a bag that weighs 50 pounds and says, “We Wash” on the outside would be worthy of thievery is beyond me.

Nonetheless, when the driver arrived Thursday to pick up my dirty clothes, the bag was gone.

I had hoped some well-meaning person had dragged the bag inside thinking it was an incoming package and not an outgoing one.

Alas, no.

Someone pilfered my laundry.

This discourages me on a couple fronts.

First, clothes for fat people cost more than clothes for other people.

A pair of basic khaki pants runs me $75. The special diabetic socks I wear cost $20 a piece and I had nearly two weeks’ worth of them in the bag.

One doesn’t buy their wardrobe all at once. You get it in pieces, over time, as you need something.

My wardrobe took a hit. I don’t know when I’ll make it whole.

Also, it’s hard to remember what was in the laundry and what wasn’t.

I’m sure I lost some Henley shirts. I’ve got a wardrobe full, so that’s no big deal.

A couple of comic book t-shirts are gone. Those are newish and easily replaced, not a rare back issue.

But the shirts I know were in there, the ones I’ll really miss, were three New York Yankees navy blue t-shirts.

The famous interlocking “NY” was screen printed over the heart in white.

They were size 6XL. I bought them all from a dealer on eBay. I haven’t been able to find them since.

Keep your comments about the size of my shirts to yourself. I know I’m fat. I know the health risks. I’m working on it.

I loved those Yankees shirts. They were by Majestic. They were a perfect weight, always cool enough or warm enough.

The cotton slid right over my head and shoulders and was perfectly soft from the first day out of the shopping bag.

Whenever I wore them, I had a brief flash of sitting by the pool with the sun on my legs, my cap pulled low, and the Yankees radio broadcast in my years.

It’s hard to find sports fan clothes for a man of my girth, especially for the Yankees.

New Yorkers are snobs for skinny people.

Anyway, those are gone now.

That brings me to my second frustration.

This routine of leaving the laundry outside went on for years without a problem.

Some people chided me about living in the Drake University neighborhood. They tell me how dangerous it is.

Those closer to my age remember the terrible murders at the Drake Diner some 30 years ago.

Others note crimes just blocks away from my apartment.

But I’ve lived here almost 25 of my 47 years and, until this incident, never had a problem.

This is my home.

I love my alma mater.

I love the students.

I love the vitality of this neighborhood, from the reopened Varsity theater to Habanero’s at 32nd Street and Forest Avenue.

People will tell me it was a foolish thing to leave my property outside, unguarded.

I will them that which I have told them for all the years I’ve lived here: Bad things happen everywhere. You can’t judge a place by one thing.

I trust my neighbors and my neighborhood.

My laundry may be gone, but I’m not going anywhere.

Besides, what would I wear?


Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

Podcast 109: Talking Damar Hamilton, lost kittens in the sewer, Arsenal vs. the color red, and sundry topics of minor interest

112: Artificial intelligence is replacing humans and we're too dumb to notice it; Guess the Hallmark Valentine's Day movie; with guest host T-Square Talking Paragraphs

Ideas to be discussed by a haggard middle school teacher and a man a reader for the local Gannett Outlet Store once called "the mouthpiece of Big Ag:" 1. The singularity approaches. 2. Jimmy Kimmel is going to ruin my favorite Twitter account  3. Which sucks more: "That 90s Show" or "Velma?" 4. All drive-through fast food 5. Hallmark Valentine's Game — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/talkingparagraphs/support
  1. 112: Artificial intelligence is replacing humans and we're too dumb to notice it; Guess the Hallmark Valentine's Day movie; with guest host T-Square
  2. 111: Laser-guided podcast
  3. 110: Dan's laundry is stolen and the internet is out at his work while Paul faces a flood at his office
  4. 109: NFL players are more important than you; Arsenal hates the color red; There's a movie called 'Plane'; and other musings
  5. 108: Old celebrities have died and people can't handle it; Big Ten crashes in burns in college football playoffs; and wouldn't be nice to be a guest on 'The Love Boat'

College football stinks, but the transfer portal is cool

The college football season ended Monday night. I sat down in my overstuffed brown recliner with a tumbler full of iced tea and a bag of Doritos.

I was asleep by kickoff.

I wanted to root for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.

My late friend and mentor Steve Buttry graduated from there.

The late Mick Ferrari, a former Drake University president and good friend, served as TCU president.

I woke up to learn that the university of my dead friends was murdered by Georgia.

I missed nothing.

That’s generally how I feel about college football.

College football holds less appeal for me than when I was a boy.

Hayden Fry, Chuck Long, and Ronnie Harmon loomed over the state like folk heroes.

Going to the Rose Bowl, the grandaddy of them all, meant something.

For the Iowa Hawkeyes, it meant a brutal beating by a Pac-10 team.

At least there were a nice parade before the game.

I preferred the bowl system. It made New Year’s Day special. All the nation’s good teams played the nation’s nearly good teams.

Somebody upset a top-ranked team in a morning bowl and sudden this evening bowl had national championship implications.

Now we have playoffs, which everybody likes but me.

I’m told it’s more exciting.

I think it’s just more fun for gamblers and gambling companies, whose interests should always be catered, of course.

The one thing I really like about college football is the transfer portal.

I like the name — transfer portal. It feels like a mashup of a bank statement and a 1960s sci-fi movie.

I can almost hear the movie trailer voice guy saying, “Thrill to the adventures of the cosmic accountant who ventures between bank reconciliations to save the multiverse.”

Portal itself is an interesting word. It means “grand, imposing entrance.”

Think the Parthenon or Sistine Chapel.

The college football players fill out some paperwork and pack up their dorm.

There is some chatter on the sports networks.

Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon of ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” discussed a quarterback who leapt into the transfer portal to play a sixth year.

The guy will be 25 years old next season.

This reminds me of Droz, the slacker lead character in the underrated 1994 comedy “PCU.”

Droz’s character description is “multi-year senior.”

Those of us who aren’t good at football, which is almost everyone, also have transfer portals.

When I was mad at an editor early in my career, I threatened to quit.

The editor said, “Iowa is an at-will employment state. We’re all free agents.”

And as journalism taught me many times, sometimes you choose free agency and sometimes free agency is thrust upon you.

If I had access to a transfer portal now, I don’t know where I would go.

I teach middle school now. I spent a lot of money and time remaking my life and gaining skills so I could do this job.

I’m not keen on changing careers or locations.

I mean I used a strong double-stick tape to put up the decorations in my classroom.

The only portal I would use one that involved time travel.

I’d go back and play a few games of checkers with my late father.

Maybe I would whisper in my teenage self’s ear to stick with behavioral therapy and lay off the carbs.

Or maybe I would just go back to a random New Year’s Day when the pop flowed freely from glass bottles, the peanuts were lightly salted, and the bowl games mattered.

Middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney is a Marion County Express columnist.



Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.