“I’ll wash some of your dishes for you,” I said.
I made the offer because I was standing in a beautiful but currently disheveled kitchen strewn with pots, pans, serving trays and a growing pool of water on the floor. I offered to help because this was where the beautiful host cooked and prepped all the beautiful food and desserts for the amazing barbecue still in progress in the yard. I made the offer because during the course of this festive event, resplendent with crackling wood fire, ambient music, flickering candles and free-flowing wine, some kitchen pipes decided to belch and fart all over her shiny wood floors, rendering her sink and dishwasher useless. With each soggy plunge and futile turn of the wrench, it seemed the night’s work was expanding exponentially. I could see a look growing in her eyes.
“I’ll help you,” I offered. “I’ll take some of it home.”
“You don’t even have a dishwasher!” she exclaimed.
All heads turned to stare. The looks ranged from shock to confusion to almost pity.
It was as if someone had shouted and pointed: “She has sex with Labrador retrievers!”
Um. Yeah. I don’t have a dishwasher. I also don’t have a snow blower or countless other gizmos and gadgets that seem to be “mandatory” for suburban living in the 21st century.
I know she didn’t mean to make me feel inadequate and nearly naked in front of a kitchen full of suburban women. She only meant: I wouldn’t ask that of you since you don’t have a dishwashing machine.
But that is precisely why I offered to box up at least half of the mess and clean it in my kitchen. It’s what I do. Every day. Multiple times a day. It’s not that bad. Besides, I’ve dealt with kitchen disasters, too. I know how much it sucks to clean the remains of dinner in your bath tub at 1 a.m.
I haven’t had a dishwasher in my kitchen since 1998. It’s not that I wouldn’t want one again. The configuration of our kitchen does not allow for one: picture a walk-in closet with a stove and refrigerator. Long ago I accepted the rubber-gloved, scrubber sponge and Brill-O pad experience.
I don’t have a snow blower because I love to shovel snow. Really. My husband and I disagree on it but I think our lot is not really big enough to justify the price tag for something that largely sits collecting dust in the garage for eight months of the year. I’m also personally opposed to fouling the air and peace with gas-belching, buzzing machinery.
I’m low-tech in most ways. Rather than dream of a big home with all the latest and greatest stuff, I fantasize about a life lived in a small, simple cottage on the edge of a forest. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Internet and my computer. So the cottage better have Wi-Fi. But I also like to balance things out by raking leaves and pulling weeds and shoveling snow and washing dishes by hand.
Call me crazy, but don’t look at me that way.