Dish Pan Hands

Posted on January 23, 2013 under Storytelling with one comment


When was the last time you saw someone under the age of forty washing dishes by hand?  There is a whole generation of people who would not understand the connection between  Sunlight,  Ivory and Joy.  I think of these things as I plunge my hands into a sink full of warm sudsy water.  Now that our children have left home, the dishwasher, the mechanical kind, is no longer required except for large family gatherings.

I can’t confess that I actually love doing dishes.  There is a much more practical consideration.  When the winter sets in my hands are cold all the time.  I am constantly either rubbing my hands like a smoker in withdrawal or blowing into them like a quarterback playing football in January.  Most days I do the dishes twice. Not that two people make that much of a mess but it is surprising how many dishes you actually use when they’re stacked up on the kitchen counter and not buried in a dishwasher like some form of contraband.

I still go to church.  When was the last time you saw someone under the age of forty go to church? It is as rare as someone doing the dishes by hand.  I haven’t dusted off the old Baltimore Catechism lately and I haven’t attended a meeting of the John Bosco society in over fifty years.  I never quite understood why I used to go to the local elementary school on Saturdays with several of my pals, during the summer, to attend meetings of this society.  A little research shows me that John Bosco was a 19th. century priest, educator and writer.  One of his missions in life was his dedication to the betterment and education of juvenile delinquents.  Now I understand.

I do remember the Ten Commandments and I thought about number three today while doing the morning dishes; “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain”.  There should be a caveat that goes with this; “unless you are doing the dishes with your brother or sister.”

Coming from a large family, we all learned how to cook and clean at an early age. The standoff between North and South Korea pales in comparison to two siblings on dish duty.  Now that’s a “thin green line” – the Demilitarized Zone, as it were. You know how it goes?  You’re both teenagers and have raging hormones coursing through your body.  You would rather have chicken pox and the flu at the same time than have to stand beside an obnoxious brother or sister at the sink.  One of you may have just been dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend and your world has collapsed and then you have to suffer the additional indignity of doing dishes with that miserable excuse of a human being.

On a good day, you merely do the dishes amidst stony silence.  But if either party is having an off day, well, simply put, it’s a shit show.  The washer is piling up stuff in the drying rack at warp speed in order to get to something more important, like a street hockey game.  As quickly as the dishes land in the rack, they are being unceremoniously tossed, nay hurled, back into the sudsy water – the dryer citing Health Canada standards for cleanliness.

There are no more dish wars. Occasionally I will let my wife dry the dishes but lest she ever think of washing the dishes, I will remind her of commandment number six.

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