Saturday, March 10, 2012


When she tilted open the door, she found chaos waiting for her in the dishwasher. Really, she thought, how difficult is it to load this appliance? It appeared that they had simply tossed things in as they used them, with no care for any logical arrangement. She sighed dramatically.

Working quickly, she rearranged plates in order of size from outside to in, and then re-stacked the bowls to ensure that the water could reach the inside of each one. In the created space that this rearrangement provided, she added the mixing bowls that had been stacked carelessly in the sink, next to some used Tupperware containers. She pulled out silverware that was handle up and replaced them handle down. She slid the bottom basket back in and turned her attention to the top basket.

Taffy came in the kitchen then, her little Dachshund toenails clicking on the tile floor. She gazed up at Marge with a happy, expectant look. Marge stepped into the pantry and extracted a small Milk Bone from the bin and bent over to place it in Taffy’s view. Taffy sniffed at it, then politely placed her mouth around it and sunk down to the floor to munch on it. Marge noticed Taffy’s water bowl had a little debris in it, so she took it back to the sink, rinsed it out, refilled it and returned in to the pantry floor. Taffy looked up as she crunched part of the treat. Her tail wagged in happiness. “Good girl”, Marge said.

She returned to her task. She relocated all of the coffee cups to the right side of the top basket, handles facing the same way in order to maximize the space. Then she did the same thing with the glassware on the left. Into the remaining space, she added the Tupperware containers and lids, arranging them so that one kept the next in against the rough pummeling they would receive from the water jets. (She hated opening the door at the end of the rinse cycle, only to find the containers open side up, filled with water.) When she was done, she added a cube of dishwasher detergent, snapped shut the compartment she had placed it in and shut the door. She punched the start button and smiled with satisfaction.  She pictured the kids opening the dishwasher and imagining that magic had created order where chaos had been. Or maybe they would know that she had created the masterpiece.

Back in the living room, she sat in her plush purple recliner and listened to the dishwasher. The rhythmic waves of water massaging the plates, bowls and silverware lulled her into an almost trance-like state. She loved the sound of the dishwasher, even the silences between cycles. One had to live a life without a dishwasher to truly appreciate the wonder of owning one. That was the trouble with those two. They had never had her experience. In her childhood, every meal was followed by the ritual of washing, rinsing, drying and putting away all of the things that had been used for the meal. She and her siblings took turns with the various tasks, guided by the chore chart on the wall of the kitchen. There were four children and four tasks, so they learned to work together to get the job done. Washing was the worst because it included the wiping down of the kitchen table, the counters, the stove and the cabinets around the cooking arena. She hated being assigned to washing. Still, there was always satisfaction in finishing. They would retreat to the living room and play board games or cards, fighting over imagined slights until Daddy intervened to restore order. After Daddy left, their brother was the one to restore order among the squabbling sisters. He was the oldest and naturally became the leader.

But sitting here now, listening to the dishwasher hum, she was thankful that it existed. She closed her eyes and breathed in and out deeply. She dozed off and dreamed of dancing plates, like Beauty and the Beast, except in place of “Be Our Guest”, she heard Led Zeppelin’s “The Crunge”. She was, after all, an aging hippy.

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