Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mountain Climbing: Five Years Later: Still Tired

Five years ago a group of writer assholes trekked up a mountain in New Hampshire.
This is their story.

(Originally appeared on in 2006)

Dirty Laundry

By Michael Frissore

Mt. Major, New Hampshire, April 2006

We, that is - some of the WRIToracle staff members, gathered to climb Mt. Major in Alton, NH. The wordplay in this being the first WRIT Summit and that we were climbing to the summit of this silly mountain was cute until the moment I realized – Holy crap, I actually have to climb this thing!

I had somehow gotten lost from the group. There was actually no “somehow” about it. I became winded and collapsed into a pile of mud while the rest of the WRIToritians continued up the mountain. It was then that Rita, Mt. Major’s weekend cleaning lady, approached me. She was an older woman, a bit filthy and carrying a giant sack over her shoulder like Santa Claus.

“Dirty laundry,” she said.

“What?” I responded, standing up. But she knocked me back down with that big sack of hers.

“Give me your dirty laundry,” she said.

“This is all I have,” I said. “I’m wearing this.”

“Well, take this bag,” Rita said, dropping the sack at my feet. “Get the filthy clothes of those friends of yours and bring them to me.”

“Um…” I began, but I looked up and Rita was gone. I looked inside the bag: nothing but bunny slippers and white housecoats.

I stood at the bottom of the mountain, still holding the big bag, and waiting for the rest of the WRIToraclitians to come down. The first down was Jonathan, president and CEO of The WRIToracle.

“Hey, Jonny? I said.

“Yeah, Friz?”

“Could you do me a solid and find a nice, secluded spot to change out of those nasty clothes and don these adorable slippers and this robe?”


“Oh,” I said. “And then give me your dirty clothes so that I may present them to Rita?”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“And can you get everyone else to do the same?” I said, handing the sack to Julian. “I really gotta pee.”

When I finished doing my business I met the other WRIT writers in my slippers and robe. Geoff, Suzie, Mary Ann and Phoebe, as well as Jonathan, were all dressed the same way.

“Uh, Mike?” Mary Ann said. “Explain?”

“No time,” I replied. “Give me your dirty laundry and let’s get out of here.”

We arrived at Jonathan’s house, where we recorded the WRIT Summit CD, a collection of readings by WRIToracle staff members. Jack was on hand to record our poems about dreams, birds, mothers, road trips, Adam and Eve, and, yes, dirty laundry. When it was my turn I went in and read my demented little flash fiction pieces, doing them each in one take, like Ed Wood. “What? Did I belch during the last line of that one? Whatever. Move on.”

When all the recordings were completed and Jack replayed each piece, all we could hear was:

Kick ‘em when they’re up
Kick ‘em when they’re down
Kick ‘em when they’re up
Kick ‘em when they’re down

Exactly nineteen tracks of the same Don Henley song, “Dirty Laundry.” Jack and I stood listening in amazement when Rita came up the stairs and into the room.

“Hello, boys,” she said. “Hey, this song is as relevant today as it was twenty-five years ago.”

“Hi, Rita,” I said. “Here’s that laundry you asked for.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” she replied, grabbing the bag from my hand. “Nice slippers. You both look ridiculous.” Rita laughed, lit a match, set Jacks’s equipment on fire and disappeared.

Jack and I looked at each other and ran down the stairs, shouting, “Fire! Fire! This is not a drill!” Jack grabbed a fire extinguisher from the kitchen and went back up to put the fire out, but it was too late. The WRIT Summit recordings were lost.

Or were they?


But, wait.

A year later, as if by magic, the recordings were found by Jonathan himself, somewhere between New Hampshire and the country of Colombia, and restored. And, if you listen closelyyou can hear Rita shouting for that dirty laundry, none of which any of us ever saw again*.

*That was my favorite Red Sox sweatshirt, Rita. I want it back.

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