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Adventures in Dishwashing (Ode To the Dishwasher)
by Dan Vander Ark
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Our new dishwasher is now almost 2 years old.
Its birthday is December 9th.
It’s been used twice. Three times tops.
For a bunch of years we actually had three dishwashers, but two of them graduated from high school and moved out. And the third one came with the house when we moved in back in 1994. No, no, no, it wasn’t a leftover teenager from the previous owner or anything like that. The third one was the mechanical kind. But it didn’t work, so we just used it to store air for 14 years.

Therefore since 1994 the dishes were always washed by hand; and for about the last decade it’s been just my wife and I (although I guess the dog helped some, but don’t tell that to our friends or family).

To tell you the truth, I feel that washing the dishes together gives us a time to talk and catch up on the news of the day. And it has definitely helped to cement our relationship together.

Here is a sample of one of our more intimate conversations:
Me: “How was your day?”
Kay: “Fine.”
Kay: “And how was your day?”
Me: “Fine.”

Those deep exchanges of emotion over a sink full of dishes have helped us both to face the trials of life.
But sometimes the conversations aren’t quite that intimate; on occasion we just stare out the window and watch the squirrels fight over the sunflower seeds. Or occasionally I guess we do talk about some pretty serious stuff. You know, like “Was Yogi Berra the catcher for the New York Yankees or the cartoon bear that lived in Jellystone National Park?” Or, “Hey Honey, the neighbors aren’t burning furniture in their backyard again are they?”

Even though most of the time the dishwashing-conversations are about problem solving global issues, every now and then we get to laughing so hard that Joy soap bubbles come out our nose. And occasionally I guess we just goof around. Like the other night – I washed the big pizza pan, she dried it and then held it up to her face like a shield and was peaking at me through the millions of little holes to see if I still looked the same. And I’ve been known to put the spaghetti strainer on my head and pretend to be contacting Mars or Iowa. And Kay does a pretty good job of imitating the sound that the garbage disposal makes.

If we are washing the dishes between 5-7 on Saturday evenings, we try to listen to Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” When we told that to my nephew David and his wife-to-be Katie (would that be your niece-in-law?), they thought it was just so romantic.

I always wash, and Kay always dries. And it always goes from right to left – that whole process never changes. But if I time it right (and pretend to be busy) she will actually start washing the dishes. Then I will suddenly race into the kitchen, and while trying to catch my breath, say something like, “Oh Honey, I am sooooo sooorrrryy!!! Here let me help! I got distracted watching Ice Road Truckers on TV.” I then commence to washing the remaining dishes while she has to dry all of them.

And she often reminds me that I put in too much soap. Every night its, “Dan, its CONCENTRATED! You don’t need that much soap!” My reply? “What did you say? Sorry, I was concentrating.” I then, in a Moses-at-the-Red-Sea fashion, part the enormous mountain of soap so that I can see the dishes.

As Kay was putting the dishes into the cupboard one evening after she dried them, it was only natural that during one of our dishwashing conversations we pondered just why the cupboard is called the “cupboard.” We figured it must have originated from medieval days when the cups were simply placed on a rough hewn oak board to dry. After supper the wife would say to the husband, “Put the cups up on that rough hewn oak board.” But when Monday Night Football rolled around a few years later (I think Howard Cosell started in like 1869), the husband was suddenly in a big hurry so the wife would simply say, “Put the dishes on the cupboard before you even THINK about sitting down in front of the TV!” And later on, hickory doors and pewter door pulls were added so that’s how come we now say, “Put the dishes IN the cupboard.”

Anyway, back to the dishwasher. We run the dishwasher through a wash cycle about every other month just so it doesn’t get rusty or full of cobwebs. And every once in a great while we even put dishes into it so that it doesn’t lose its sense of dish-esteem.

Maybe I would be more in favor of actually using the dishwasher more often if in fact it put the dishes away. To be perfectly honest with you, I was more than a little aghast when I opened the dishwasher door after the first time we washed the dishes and found that they were STILL IN THE DISHWASHER! I guess maybe we need to buy the companion Kenmore Dishputterawayer.

Or maybe we could raise a couple more dishwashers in our old age. And the boy would be named Ken More Vander Ark. And the girl would be called May Tag Vander Ark.

Ode To The Dishwasher:
Oh dishwasher Oh dishwasher
O Giant piece of Kenmore plastic
(That’s all I have – it’s a work in progress)

Or I guess it could be a limerick:
There once was a dishwasher named Kenmore
It didn’t know why it was here for
It never got used
It felt so abused
It just fills up the space on the floor

(Please submit your favorite dishwashing limerick to me [email danno.diakonos.duluth@juno.com]. The best one will be put on the blog and you will receive a signed picture of me with a spaghetti strainer on my head)

Dan Vander Ark

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