November 12, 2000
Dishwashing Therapy!


I've accidentally stumbled across a miraculous cure for the Sunday Blues today, and I'm so excited about it that I just have to break my never-writing-on-Sunday *rule* to let you in on my discovery. The cure is this:

A sinkful of dirty dishes.

Seriously! Waking up to a big sinkful of dirty dishes, all jumbled up and stuck together and spilling over onto the stove and the countertops and the floor: that's my "cure" for Sundayitis. I'm not talking about a polite coffee cup or two, sitting in the sink waiting for a quick rinse. I'm not talking about last night's leftover supper dishes. I'm talking about waking up to a huge, greasy, disgusting, four-day, every-dish-in-the-house (even-the-crockpot), that's-funny I-didn't-*feel*-an-earthquake, post-apocalyptic EXPLOSION, right there in your pink kitchen!

It's the best thing that's happened to me on Sunday since "Malcolm in the Middle."

I've spent this entire day scrubbing and scouring and rinsing and restoring order from chaos ... a soothing sort of baptism-from-the-elbows-down ... and I have to tell you that I feel better than I've felt in days. I haven't thought about Franz once this entire day. I haven't thought about the Ex-Husband, either, or our stoopid phone conversation last week. I haven't thought about my job, or about money, or about Christmas shopping, or about the Presidential election, or about hormones, or about Cranky Denver Lady, or about the bags under my eyes. Not even once.

It's been like a little slice of heaven in a bottle of Sun Light Dishwashing Detergent.

Everybody has their own preferred method. David employs what I call The Car-Wash Method: dip, brush, dip, rinse, buff dry, repeat. It takes him less than five minutes to slam through a standard sinkload of dishes that way.

I, on the other hand, wash dishes the same way I used to bathe my children: slowly, methodically, lovingly, ceremoniously ... and in the same order every time, saving the most difficult for last. For me, it's not just about getting the job done: it's about how the job gets done.

I view it as an *art.*

The ritual is always the same. Remove everything from the sink -- including the little plastic plug doohickey -- and disinfect it completely. (One of my idiosyncracies: I can't wash dishes in a dirty sink. I even pre-wash the dish rack and the scrubby thingy and the little plastic plug doohickey.)  Next, sort all of the dirty dishes into piles: all of the plates together, all of the bowls together, all of the glassware together, all of the coffee cups, all of the pots and pans, all of the silverware ... all in neat, anal-retentive little groups.

Fill up the sink with the hottest, soapiest water you can stand. Our water here in the apartment gets extremely hot. You can make tea with our water, straight from the faucet: that's how hot it is.

Dump the plates -- and ONLY the plates -- into the hot soapy water and let them soak for half an hour, while you take an absurdly long and leisurely shower ... get dressed ... have another cup of coffee ... read the Classifieds.

Thirty minutes later, pull the plates out of the soapy water, scrub them completely, rinse them off and stack them in the dish drainer. Dump out the now-lukewarm soapy water and refill the sink with new hot soapy water. Load the sink with bowls this time -- and ONLY bowls -- and let them soak for half an hour, while you write e-mail ... eat a whole-wheat bagel ... work on your mother's Christmas mix tape (I hope Mom likes Fat Boy Slim).

Repeat this process through glassware, coffee cups, pots and pans, silverware. It will probably take all day at this rate ... but that's sort of the point. By the time you're done you've not only achieved a pleasing sense of accomplishment, you have killed an entire Sunday. And you haven't burst into tears once.

I should point out that Dishwashing Therapy will only work if:

A.) Washing the dishes is *your* idea. It doesn't count if someone is forcing you/bribing you/guilting you into doing it. Enforced therapy is never as effective as elective therapy.

B.) You finish the job completely. Doing half the dishes and then wandering away to take a drooling three-hour "nap" -- leaving half an explosion, still spread across the kitchen -- will only make you feel worse when you wake up, and

C.) You don't use a DISHWASHER, forcryingoutloud. That's cheating.

Of course, the only problem with Dishwashing Therapy, as I've described it here, is that by the time you've finally finished the job, it's time to start thinking about making dinner ... and that means creating a brand-new mess. (Especially if you're going to make something big and greasy and utensil-intensive, like spaghetti sauce from scratch.)

But that's OK. Tomorrow it's David's turn to do the dishes, anyway.

throw a rock