09 June 2010

Dishes in the Eye of the Storm

Cutting through the tomato and hamburger infusion of grease and gristle. Hands scrubbing not fast enough, but content, slopping around the sink full of brown-water mystery chunk. It's disgusting, that is true. But I am happy.

I remember the first times, I would cry and whine as my mom insisted with the horrible yellow gloves locked and loaded. It all seemed so cruel, so unnatural then, when so many things were on TV or alive in my closet ready colonize the floor. Sometimes my step-dad would offer to help after about 20 minutes of melodrama. Clever as I was, I would suggest that the best way to get done would be to hide some of the dirty cups and dinnerware among the mess of junk and appliances that always seemed to accumulate in every corner of the house.

"No, we're going to do it all, it's no big deal", he would say with a hint of disgust at my worthlessness. He never seemed to fully realize that I was a kid, and therefore he would hold me to the standard of an adult. I hadn't realized that he wasn't a kid. It made no sense why he wasn't interested in fooling my mom to get out of work.

It turns out he was the kid however. Pouting around the house, going out to the truck to smoke a cigarette, cursing at the suggestion of my mom to take out the trash, donning the bandanna when he wanted to be an independent badass. Leaving my mom...as she had left the man before him, for him.

What is it that makes me so uncomfortable with dishwashers? My younger self is still steaming with jealousy, and is incredulous that I take such a miracle machine for granted. I often feel compelled to use it because it saves time, but I look forward to the situation in which it can't be used, like in the case of big greasy pans which cannot be processed so efficiently. I know it's going to be nasty, and it is. But to actually get it clean again, after such a feast that should rightly require a sacrifice or two, the process is deemed worthy to be an analogy for the soul.

A very different situation, with a very different response, and no more than a day might have separated the two. When my dad asked for a glass of water, I jumped up and got it, no questions asked. Likewise, when he asked me to wash the dishes, the same action applied. It wasn't so bad though, dishes didn't pile up in his house. In fact, nothing piled up. Two forks, two knives, two plates, a pan, maybe two bowls, that's about all that would need to be cleaned. It was not something that required a willful forgetfulness of the precious time I was missing (and when there is a clear bedtime, you better believe time is precious!). It was over and done, and I felt like a king, not a crybaby. Oh, there were never those horrible yellow gloves.


  1. Fun little Emmanuel anecdotes! I'm not sure if I get the bigger point; but I don't know if I care that I don't get it; I just enjoy the anecdotes. :)

  2. Thanks Daniel, I'm glad you do. There's not a bigger point, I'm a big believer in writing as a form of reflection and therapy, of itself and for itself.

  3. I'm glad to hear that; I was feeling slightly dense for a moment. Thank you for writing for therapy! I'm going to have to ask Steven Fletcher to contribute a piece on story-telling as therapy to Coherence some time.