Growing up, like most everyone, I had chores to do. Clean the dishes, mow the lawn, clean the pool, and periodically help roof a house. Oh, and vacuum. Oh man – and how could I forget cleaning up after the dog?
It might just be me, but I feel that the dishwasher is – as an appliance – the most emblematic symbol of chores in suburban America. It’s just enough of a task to warrant being called a “chore,” and it is a simple enough activity that even I, as a child, was entrusted to do it – especially since so many of our cups were the plastic ones that came with Pizza Hut kids meals and our bowls were the (equally plastic) Ninja Turtle-themed mail-aways from cereal boxes. (Okay, only one of them was, but I really liked that bowl.)
It wasn’t ever really “doing the dishes,” though, was it? Really, it was just running cold water over a dish for two seconds and then putting it inside of a machine – which, let’s face it, I wasn’t going to hold onto it for the rest of the night, so it had to be put down somewhere. Was it worth $5 a week for my parents? Probably not.
“Doing the dishes” by filling a dishwasher really just reinforced that equally important task of childhood: consuming all of my food, if only because throwing the rest of my dinner down the disposal gave me a defining, guilt-ridden visual for “there are starving children in [insert location].” (Still a compelling point. We are very fortunate to have our meals, after all.)
Flashforward to my mid-twenties, though, and doing those dishes took on a whole new meaning. Moving to Boston and into my first apartment, my mom and dad “casually” noticed that the kitchen didn’t have a dishwasher. (I say “casually” because they had only noticed this while inspecting my new home for various and sundry hazards and/or deathtraps. “The only smoke alarm is in the bedroom.” That, and there was no dishwasher.)
I think what they meant was, “We love and support you, but you spent a decade and a half of your life complaining about loading a dishwasher, and now you don’t even have one. HAHAHAHA!”
I, of course, responded (and proudly, at that), “I know! I guess I’ll have to wash them all myself, just like when I was a kid.” What I really meant was, “Not having a dishwasher is a sign of my independence. Not only am I out on my own, I am responsible for cleaning up after myself – just like a real adult. Which is what I now am: an adult in a city, and city life means hard work, like doing dishes.” In my own mind, I was the Patrick Henry of household tasks: "Give me dishes, or give me death!"
Good Lord, the significance of a machine that cleans plates.
Do you know what one, single item I want now more than anything else?
A flipping dishwasher! My mom and dad were right, and I don’t care anymore about showing off my independence. I want the 30-40 minutes a night I spend washing dishes back! Do you know what I could do with that time? As long as I stayed away from the TV, I could do a lot.
Now that I have done dishes – and I mean truly washed dishes – every night for years, I do have some advice. First, get a dishwasher. Second, if that isn’t possible, get speakers for your iDevice. Just make sure you set it up a safe distance away from the water – you know, to protect yourself and your absurdly priced iProduct.
Why? Because music makes everything better. I like to do my dishes while belting out B.B. King, Ray Charles, Tom Petty, and the Rolling Stones. I don’t think my neighbors like it, but a day without music just sounds like such a bummer, and doing the dishes without music? What a chore.
Til next time!