Do The Dishes

Lin Stone

My brother cheated me out of the joy of doing dishes when I was a kid. 
There I was, down to the forks in a sinkful of sweet suds when he came
in for a glass of ice.

"Ha! Ha! Ha!" he taunted me. 

"Lin's gotta do the dishes -- like a girl!"

It wasn't that his opinion was worth getting, but the mere fact was that his opinion stuck in my craw like a piece of glass.  He didn't even get his hand on the freezer door good before I hurled the fork in my hand at his back.

It missed, and stuck in his neck instead.  It stuck in his neck so deeply that it quivered there like a tuning fork.  It sure looked pretty.

Wayne faltered to his knees, a scream would have risen to his lips, but I was there at his side to keep it from escaping.  One hand clamped his mouth shut.  The other pushed him solidly against the freezer so he couldn't wrench himself loose and do me bodily damage.  "If you wake Mama up from her nap she'll kill both of us."

I kept my hand over his mouth until he quit struggling against me and his screams subsided.  Then I yanked the fork out -- and made him wash it.

Revenge is an awful thing, and seeking it tears the very blessings of heaven from our grasp which are still available to us.  But I had not learned that powerful lesson at that time, and I am sad to relate that ever thereafter I made sure Wayne was the one that did the dishes when my turn came.

It isn't like doing the dishes was something boys in my family didn't do.  ALL of us did the dishes some of the time.  It was just that dishes was a chore they tried to get out of to go do something more fun.  

I wasn't adverse to having more fun, but I never really thought of doing the dishes as UNfun either.  In fact, doing the dishes once gives me as much satisfaction as cleaning up a whole 40 acres of hay.

The principle is about the same too.  When a field of hay is done it looks clean and ready to grow again.  There is a dynamic principle to the process.  The dishes were dirty; now they are clean and the job is done.  When the dishes are done the whole kitchen is sparkling and ready to go again.  A man can lean back satisfied with either job done.

Being able to do the dishes and cook got me my first real job as a cowboy.  "Can you batch?"  Why, SURE I could batch.  Did he think I was helpless?  And being able to batch (be a bachelor)  was my ticket to being the ONLY cowboy on a huge ranch up at the Grand Canyon. 

There are a number of contributing factors to receiving that satisfied feeling from doing the dishes.  #1 of course is to start sooner.  Even egg yolk comes off easier if you scrub the plate before it cakes up.  

Hot water and good soap are essentials.  Doing the dishes in cold water steals half the fun out of the job.  I start with the plates because I can see success being achieved with each one I do.  I pile them up in the water to just below the surface so they can be soaking as I go.  Then I use a long handled brush to wipe the food off.  One little, two little, three little swipes should be enough to make a plate sparkle in my hands.

I pause for just a moment to gaze at my reflection.  Done right, you can shave with a straight edged razor using your reflection off a clean plate.  

When I need to relax or think a problem through there are two activities that never fail to produce results.  One is painting.  The other is doing the dishes.  

If the weather is good I'll get outside and slap paint on anything standing still.  Not that I slap paint on anything, of course.  No, most of the joy of painting (by hand) comes from the intense concentration required of getting the paint on there just right, in the tight spots, and with a straight edge. 

It is the same way with doing the dishes.  The sense of achievement doesn't come from getting them done and 
out of the way; it comes from doing them right!

I was blessed with six daughters and I taught each one of them not to limit their likes or dislikes because of gender.  Each one of them learned to drive a tractor before kindergarten, each of them could drive an automatic 
before reaching the age of eight.  Each of them learned to do the dishes before the age of ten.  

The youngest daughter had a real problem with learning to do them right.  I was rinsing for her and each time I put a dish back to be done over again, she would wail as if I had slapped her with a wet dishrag.

So, I switched jobs with her and began doing the dishes.  Timidly she handed one back to me.  I took it, looked it over, and sure enough, it was not clean.  I washed it again and went on with the dishes.

Minutes later she handed me another one, eyeing me even more reluctantly.  

The third one she hid in her hand for a moment.  

"Is that one still dirty?" I asked.  She nodded, backing away.  "Hey, I will NEVER get angry with you for pointing out something I didn't do well enough, or something I can do better than I've been doing."

She put that statement to the test more and vigorously and by the time we finished she was smiling as she put dishes back for me to do over again.  It was a good time together.  Not only had I learned to do dishes a whole lot better, through my example SHE learned to handle rejection without it hurting her as much.

Doing the dishes by hand doesn't make everyone happy; that is why God invented dishwashers.  All I'm saying is don't let anyone's HA, HA, HA, stupid opinion keep you from doing what you do enjoy.  

Gender should have no place in deciding what you really like to do; I've known macho football stars that took up knitting, and there is no reason on earth for me to be ashamed of enjoying a sink full of dishes now and then. 

Take pride in who you are and what you like doing, even if there are some fools to this day who believe that gender should decide what we like or dislike and that doing the dishes is for sissies.  

Why, If I could just remember who sold me that bill of goods, I'd -- Why, I believe I'd throw a fork at him!


Lin Stone is a professional author, writer, and photographer. 
Many more of his works appear on the Tale Wins G-Rated web site
Click HERE to see a long list of his short properties.

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