I hate washing dishes. No really – HATE. Coded with a somewhat masculine quirk, my brain is not designed to compartmentalize anything other than Sex/Love. All else falls under the blanket of Life – no enviable Work/Play distinctions that bring comfort to so many when faced with life’s daily bargaining of attentions. All is the exaltation of existence, blemished only by the hell tedium of repetition – where sex, perhaps not so ironically, is the only action worth repeating.
Forced to resort to somewhat extreme – stepping away from our theme here – decidedly unsexy actions to cope with the practicalities of life, I find myself wondering if I can apply Blank Canvas thinking to this latest spread of dirty dishes…
A story opens, and I dive in hands first…
With a PhD in early 21st century residences, and more than a decade of field experience, our archeologist can’t believe she still gets stuck on dish duty. “Yah yah, women have come so far – bullshit,” she grumbles while brushing off the fine layer of sediment that covers the Northside counter of the perfectly preserved kitchen. Like much of ancient Rome and New York, this home has been buried under centuries of rebuilds and is nearly intact.
What she notices first is the organization of the artifacts: pots on the left, cutlery collected in a large Tupperware (perhaps left to soak), plates stacked by size. A theory springs to mind… Maybe the inhabitants tetrised (‘verbed’ in mid-2100s) the spread to make it less intimidating. There are no other dishes on the shelves, and notably, no dishwasher. “Maybe they hated doing the dishes as much as I do,” she wonders out loud in the still, linoleum floored cave. “Maybe they left them as long as they could – and then time ran out.”
But who lived here? She catalogues each plate, cup, pot, before taking scrapings of preserved food residue, then scrubs them clean for museum storage and possible future display. There are two distinct condiment patterns: some plates have sauce smeared all over, while others show evidence of little dried pools. The latter eater taking more than he/she needed, keeping tastes separate, and taking little dabs; the former mixing the flavourings with the food, or perhaps simply finishing with flourish.
There are more archeological clues. Some of the casserole dishes (and even Tupperware lids) show the same saucing patterns as the plates. Our archeologist considers this proof of her procrastination theory – that once the plates ran out, other surfaces were sacrificed. Most interesting are the dish gloves, the rubber made brittle by time, but still clearly the largest size available. A couple perhaps? A large woman and a smaller man (the dabs)? Two men?
Or a small woman and a Viking man (finishing with flourish), the gloves bought with the hope of compromise. The dabber would be the tetrisiser, but the gloves would better fit the man. Our archeologist steps back, arms dripping with suds. “And like so many compromises,” she muses, “the truth of any theory is proven only when time runs out.”
I step back, pink gloves dripping. What she can’t see – the archeological evidence long since re-sauced – are the interm loads my Viking washed while waiting for me to man up and take my turn at the sink. And so with one (albeit epic) load of dishes, my faith in an entire branch of science is shaken to the core.