At my house, emptying the dishwasher is one of those “Tag, you’re it” games, along with brushing the dog’s teeth, cleaning up fur balls, and disposing of a belly-up palmetto bug the size of small Volkswagen.
When there are no more glasses or forks left in the house, my husband is the one who typically adds detergent and presses the button to start the cleansing hum … which makes him believe he’s absolved from emptying the dishwasher, because, after all, he’s the one who “did” the dishes.
A couple of hours later, our dishes are clean, but we’ll live without them for days ― each of us pretending we don’t see the tiny green light signaling the end of the cycle, silently hoping someone else will do the dirty deed of putting away the clean load. He who makes eye contact with the green light dares not point it out to the other two people in the house … because to acknowledge the light is to admit you are aware there is work to be done and haven’t proactively stepped in. The three of us have been known to eat several meals on paper plates, just to avoid opening that dishwasher door and being declared the loser. We might even go so far as to “bait” our cohabitants.
“Hey, where are all the glasses?” someone might ask, casually opening the cupboard … like maybe our stemware ran a few errands and will be back momentarily … or perhaps the juice glasses are taking some well-deserved time off in the Caribbean.
“They’re in the dishwasher,” one of the other two will say.
Suddenly, whoever reached for the glass is beyond shock.
“They are?” this person says, as if this is inconceivable. This knowledge miraculously cures their thirst, so they close the cupboard and pretend the exchange never took place.
When it comes to unloading the dishwasher at my house, all the world’s a stage and everyone’s a player.
“The green light is on?” I might say, with just the right touch of registered surprise (seriously, Meryl Streep would be impressed). “I’m sorry. I didn’t even notice.”
My husband takes a more passive aggressive approach, daring to announce that the “clean” light is on just as he heads out the door on a business trip, hoping everything will be neatly put away when he returns. Days later, he’ll go to make his coffee, only to find his precious pot and filter still being held hostage in a darkened tomb of moisture under the counter.
“I’ve been gone five days, and nobody emptied the dishwasher?” he’ll ask with a dash of genuine disbelief.
That’s when my daughter and I change our story from blindness to amnesia.
“Oh my God, I totally forgot,” one of us invariably responds.
Of course, I know there are dishes in there. That’s why I’ve used the same glass over and over again for the entire week he was away. I’ve used it, washed it and dried it on the dish rack next to the sink. Even when he’s home, I’ve been known to hand wash pots and casserole dishes from a week’s worth of meals, rather than empty two racks of squeaky clean plates and cutlery, so I can reload the dishwasher with a new load of dirty things. I will wash dirty dishes every night to save myself that 10-minute hassle of putting away clean ones. Seriously. I’d rather scrub encrusted cheese with my fingernails than put away a load of perfectly sanitized plates and let the Sears Kenmore do my dirty work.
What the heck is wrong with me?
For the life of me, I don’t understand this. I can understand procrastinating when it comes to scrubbing grout or giving our Goldendoodle a bath … or any other chore that requires getting down on my hands and knees, one of which is painfully lacking in cartilage. What does unloading a dishwasher require, really? It’s about four feet from this machine to any given cupboard. How much effort does it take? Why is it more than I can bear to sort knives, forks and spoons into a drawer outfitted with a utensil organizer? Each item has a compartment. It’s easier than a baby shape-sorting toy. How is it I can I motivate myself to do four miles of hills on an elliptical machine, but feel so unbelievably put out by having to walk four feet to put away eight three-finger coffee mugs?
What is so horrible about this chore that when one of the three of us opens the dishwasher to put in a dirty glass, we shudder to find it full of clean dishes, slam it shut and pretend we’re none the wiser?
I can identify only one deterrent ― the water that pools on top of upside down cups and storage containers. It requires delicate dabbing with a towel. And that’s apparently more than I can bear.
I will wash and fold 11 loads of laundry, vacuum the house, clean the ceiling fans, change the sheets, scrub the tub and toilet and administer drops to the infected ears of my dog … but soaking up a few droplets of clean water with a dish towel? That’s where I draw the line. Evidently this is the delicate straw that will bring my entire world crashing down.
So we continue the standoff to see who’s the most powerful under our roof ― who can keep washing and re-using the same fork, and who will break first.
And maybe, just maybe, there’s a part of me that gets some sort of secret thrill when I watch some unsuspecting chump open the dishwasher door to deposit an oatmeal spoon, only to find that it’s full – even if that chump is my husband … or daughter. Could I really be so pathetically deranged that I derive a sick pleasure from inflicting such pain on others?
Why yes, yes I am. I’m a tired mom who wants someone else to step up to the clean plate.
Now hurry up and hand me that greasy roasting pan, so I can scrub off the petrified chicken skin, before that damn green light goes off again.
The dishwasher isn’t the only thing that brings out my evil gene. Read Don’t Take a Chance: Why You Should Play Monopoly Before Boardwalking Down the Aisle!
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