Life’s Fourth Certainty

As I mentioned in “Coveting Quarters,” the two certainties in life are said to be death and taxes.

In her collection of columns “Burnt Toast: Musings on Living, Loving and Saying Goodbye,” my favorite columnist, Lenore Skomal, adds laundry to the list. But I have a fourth offering: dirty dishes.

I’m the type of person who likes to do things quickly and efficiently, mark them off the list and move on with life. But dishes refuse to let me go.

Dishwashing is not terribly difficult, thanks to the blessing of non-stick cookware, but no matter how organized and efficient I am, they always pile up again. There is no escape from the unending cycle.

My method is ironic, though. I don’t like to just wash one or two pieces at a time. I want to wait until there is a full load and then wash everything together. But at the same time, that means the sink is perpetually full and I am constantly staring at the pile with growing dread.

One of the mister’s old college roommates used to let his dishes pile up and sit in the kitchen to the point that there were never-before-seen life forms in the coffee pot. The other boys living in that house eventually began washing their own pieces and keeping them in their respective bedrooms while this fourth roommate’s filth piled up in the rest of the house.

I think this contributes to my guilt whenever the mister helps me with the dishes. He’s good about pitching in, either to wash or dry (he calls himself my “Matt-tag”), but I somehow feel like I’m not doing my job as a wife to keep the house clean. He had to live with piles of dishes before he got married; he shouldn’t have to now.

But I just hate doing it. Once I get started it’s over fast, but it’s turning the water on that’s somehow the hardest part. It’s hard to shake the knowledge that even if I wash everything now I’m just going to have to do it again tomorrow. Or possibly even in a few hours.

The suggestion has been made to use more paper products, but that just builds up in the trashcan. I’ve also been told to cook less-complicated meals, but even the one-skillet dish requires, at minimum, a skillet and serving spoon and sometimes a mixing bowl and measuring utensils. Not to mention the plates, forks and glasses from when we actually eat.

Admittedly, a dishwasher will not be the first major household appliance the mister and I purchase. That will be a washer and dryer for the clothes. But shortly on the heels of that will come a dishwasher, and I will probably sit in the kitchen floor and stare at it admiringly for the first few days.

I’ll cover it lovingly in magnets like my grandmother does. I’ll fill it with care and empty it with love. It will be as much a part of our family as our pets and children. And when it ultimately washes its last dish, I will have the mister dig a giant hole in the backyard under a favorite tree so we can bury it with dignity beneath a headstone bearing appropriately loving sentiments.

People will come from miles around to see the Great Buried Dishwasher. We’ll be a national tourist attraction. Which, of course, will finance the purchase of new and improved kitchen appliances.

…NOT, as my husband would like to think, his “mid-life crisis car” (which he has, at 22, already picked out, by the way).

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