Sunday, August 15, 2004

Dish washing

I spent much of the day yesterday catching up on dish-washing. Normally I pride myself on doing the dishes as I use them when my dish-washing partner is away, but this past week I've slipped up.

When I was seventeen, a recent high-school graduate, low-wage worker and rock-star wannabe, I lived in an apartment with the drummer from my band. We accumulated impressive stacks of dirty dishes in our small, cramped kitchen, engaging in a kind of teenage-male one-up-manship to see who could last the longest without breaking down and running the dishwasher. We ate frozen pizzas (our staple food) off of saucepan lids to avoid having to wash plates. I usually triumphed in these contests, in no small part because of my ability to bring home a seemingly limitless number of 32-ounce plastic cups from the fast food restaurant where I worked.

In the normal order of things in our house, I cook, H washes the dishes, I dry them and put them away. A friend of mine says we should invest in a dishwashing machine, especially as H is going to be out of town for three weeks in October. But the problem with mechanical dishwashers, as H regularly observes, is that they really don't clean the dishes very well. Either you have to wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (as my parents do), or put them through the dishwasher and have "clean" dishes with large chunks of food adhered to them (as H's family does).

Early in our relationship, H made an offhand comment about how a good marriage was founded less on romantic attachment than on the ability to meet each other's daily needs. I remember that comment as one of the first times I thought that maybe we would get married and raise children. The daily ritual of washing and drying the dishes together, by hand, is not what you write rock and roll songs about when you're a dreamy 17-year-old, but at 31, I don't think I'll be buying a new dishwasher anytime soon.

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