Thoughts on DREAD By: Deborah Rodman Hall June 1 2017


There is one thing, silly really, that I dread doing: washing dishes. I have dreaded and detested this task since I was eight years old. Funnily enough, doing dishes at a friend’s house isn’t as bad, perhaps because of the novelty of seeing someone else’s dinnerware.

I recall one time when a friend offered to help me with the dishes. We decided, in our nine-year-old wisdom, to take all the dishes down into the basement and do them in the laundry set-tubs, standing in the water and passing the items to each other to wash and rinse. I’m not sure how clean we got the dishes, but it was a different sort of washing-up experience, and cooling on a hot summer’s day.

The two worst parts of washing up are silverware, and pots and pans. Silverware is tedious because there is so much of it. The forks get caught in the dish-rag, the sharp knives are usually oriented the wrong way, and the bigger utensils like serving spoons and spatulas don’t fit into the drying cup in the rack. Pots and pans, of course, are bigger, awkward beasts that require extra elbow grease, even if they have been soaking.

For a number of years I lived in the lap of luxury, owning a dishwasher. Loading and unloading it was a time of joy. To be sure, it had a downside in that not all the food was removed from the plastics, and I had to make sure to set the timer for it to run overnight, when the electricity is cheaper. But one spring a couple of years ago, we got a bug in the system – literally. In spite of my diligent cleaning of the dishwasher itself, it got infested with ants. The computer chip was damaged, and the dishwasher is now useless.

After dinner I find I am often too tired to deal with the mess on the counter, so it waits patiently until midnight or even morning. The existential dread of having to go through the procedures to clear up sends me running to my craft room sanctuary until I can handle it.

The thing I have to remember is how good it feels to see a clean kitchen, ready for the next round of culinary exercises. There is no puffery about doing the necessary housework, but there is a satisfaction in having accomplished something in the real world, not just on a computer screen.

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