In this cold wash of a world, you can be a criminal or you can be anything else. Sometimes the line between the two is as plain as a separation of light and dark clothes. And sometimes the line is as thin as a strip of lint pulled out from the dryer. The latter is what I’m referring to right now.

It was a chilly Saturday, the kind of day when you wake up at 11 a.m. and immediately turn off the snoozer. I did just that. Little did I know then that I’d be needing the extra rest. 

I’ve only got two friends in this bleached load of a world — Jack Daniels and my Macbook Pro. Lately I’d been seeing too much of both — and the combination of the two leads to far too many nights writing Chekhov essays and actually understanding myself.

On my way to brunch I stopped in the residential college laundry room. I had three loads — one warm, two cold. The second cold load was a metaphoric one, representing my future existential crisis. But I made the rookie mistake, leaving my laundry basket and my half bottle of detergent alone in the room. “After all,” I thought to myself ominously, “Who would steal a laundry basket?” In any case, I’d cleaned up this town like Tide with a touch of Downy. I’d been keeping this residential college safe ever since I graduated from freshmen housing back in ’08. And I sure as hell ain’t returning to the towers.

A cool 48 minutes later, I arrived back in the laundry room, ready to throw my things in the dryer. My clothes were waiting, but the basket — and the half bottle of detergent — were gone. Either someone stole them, or they just grew legs and walked off on their own. I’m being facetious; the second option is clearly impossible (for now, thank you “Science (and) Fiction” junior seminar!). 

It seemed like I had a case on my hand. A cold case. Dare I say a cold wash case. Yes, I made that joke. I lit a cigarette and took a long, nicotine-filled drag, then coughed several times. I don’t normally smoke. But I did then.

Though I have too many Facebook friends to poke with one hand, I had made many enemies since I became an upperclassman. The list of potential suspects tumbled around my mind like a jumble of shirts in a dryer. But could any of these numbskulls have stolen my laundry basket and half bottle of detergent? They all had motives, sure, but I was hesitant to point fingers. Things were adding up less than my “Quantum Physics” problem sets, and let me tell you, I am very worried about my grade in that class. Seriously, I haven't been doing the reading (See last week’s issue, “Detective Kuperberg and the More Interesting Huffington Post Articles").

I returned to the scene of the crime later that day. No laundry basket. No half bottle of detergent. One sophomore I had never laid eyes on, taking the lint out of those screen things where the lint gets compiled. I asked him if he had seen my laundry basket, he said, “No.” I was starting to wish I had a femme fatale, and mainly for reasons unrelated to this case.

Angry that I was chasing dead ends, I took to the bottle (of tropical citrus Vitamin Water). Even my associate Will Stephen ’11 couldn’t console me.

“I bought that laundry basket at Ikea! It was way sturdier than those crappy ones the bookstore sells!” I moaned. “And combined with the detergent, that’s probably like 30 bucks in entire value.” Will said “Yup” and nodded, like he usually does when he’s pretending to listen to what I’m saying but is really reading music blogs.

I tossed and turned every night that week. How could I sleep with the knowledge that, somewhere in my own residential college, someone was sleeping in the same room as my laundry basket and half bottle of detergent? The following Saturday, I was heading back to the scene of the crime. I figured maybe the thief had gone through an entire clothes cycle. I had to return. But Will stopped me.

“I’m going back,” I said, clinging onto a fading hope. He sighed.

“Forget it, Ethan. It’s Laundry-town.”