“Dry Clean City,” by Nicholas Verykoukis

May 18th, 2016 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Welcome to Dry Clean City. Unlike other dry cleaners you may have used in the past, we don’t just clean your clothes at a low price in a bland, convenient location staffed by grumpy part-timers who wouldn’t know customer service if it jumped out, cuffed them, and read them their Miranda rights. No, we aim to be a true dry clean city, a polis whose entire existence is derived from and organized around the ancient and celebrated history, theory, and practice of dry cleaning.

If you’re looking for traditional wet laundering, you’ll have to go elsewhere to indulge your philistinism. Decades of debate and dialogue, conducted by our most learned men and attended by our most beautiful boys, have led us to believe, indeed to know, that the un-dry-cleaned life is not worth living. When our critics see one of us or one of our customers strolling in the marketplace, they sometimes complain of “unrumpled conformity” and the “stench of toxic chemicals.” But to our eyes and noses, the same sight and smell are glorious glimmers of divine essence, ultimate reality in a Jos. A. Bank suit.

You’ve probably already noticed that we are clean, polite, and neatly dressed. We are happy to answer any questions you might have about our processes. Please disagree with us on any matter, especially if you have a rational position whose elegant defense would help us improve our thought and our culture. Classical music, perhaps the highest artistic expression of man, plays all day in our stores. And please help yourself to a cup of wine and some barley cake. At Dry Clean City, we treat all of our customers as citizens, perhaps even gods in disguise, but never as barbarians.

(A reminder to our Spartan customers: if you choose the after hours drop-off service, we require more information than “Clean this.” Please check all the applicable boxes on the form provided. Thank you very much.)

As up-to-date cosmopolitans, we are aware that other establishments have had the boldness to call themselves “Dry Clean City.” But did you know that those places hire boys older than 12? Or that they fail or don’t even care to arrange their clothing racks symmetrically? Or that they assign blame for the ruination of your favorite shirt to The Fates even when they know otherwise? In the true Dry Clean City, you may not always find perfection, but never will you find deception or sophistry.

Every four years we invite other dry cleaners, regardless of our differences, to join us in a friendly but spirited competition to see whose dry cleaning is the best. Spotlessness of garments, expediency of service, and courtesy of staff are the most popular games, while exoteric rhetorical contests such as “Hippocrates vs. Kervorkian” and “How Would Pericles Approach Light Rail?” draw smaller but no less passionate audiences. Champions receive free mints and simple alterations at the losers’ stores for an entire Aridlaundriad.

While less rigorous thinkers might mistake the simple lines of our buildings as signs of humdrum utility, acolytes of timeless design will sense the inquiry, both vast and deep, contained therein. Is there a perfect ratio between the depths of the pleats and cuffs of a man’s trousers? The consensus here is yes. Are there parenting implications between virtuous and abiding mothers who wear nothing but athleisure and virtuous and abiding mothers who wear actual adult clothing? Our scales have yet to tip on that matter. Such puzzles and platters of fresh figs sustain us through many rainy afternoons.

Regarding the sparseness of our literary canon, our critics have a point. The monthly newsletters of the North American Dry Cleaners Guild and The Practice Manual of The Fraternal Order of Gleam, while profound at times, do not regularly plumb the essential truths of western civilization. Our intention is to begin building an enduring legacy of knowledge and fine art, but first we need to expand into better locations with more parking.

In the meantime, we will continue to demolish arguments that dry cleaning has failed to influence the performing arts with a crisp refutation: “The Jeffersons.”

At Dry Clean City, we understand better than our competitors ever could the role of techne in the progress of our business and our civilization. All of our surfaces, tools, and devices are functional as well as pleasing to the eye. And because we know that theory and practice remain married despite periods of alienation, even our basic hangers reflect celestial, eternal notions and forms. Sometimes, when we bag your items, we weep with joy.

So come on down to Dry Clean City, the only dry cleaner where your clothing, logic, and soul emerge clean. (And don’t forget to ask about our complimentary lyre tuning service with purchases over $100.)


Defenestration-Dapper GentlemanWhen not practicing clinical social work or pulling his dog off dead things in the ditch behind his house, Nicholas Verykoukis talks to his wife and kids and writes a little. His work previously has appeared in Defenestration.

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