The Dishwasher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   You probably don't give your dishwasher much thought. Why would you? After all, it's just a common appliance. It cleans the dishes and that's about it. My family has a dishwasher. Actually we have two: my sister and I. That's right, we do not own a machine called a dishwasher. We wash all of our dishes by hand. I don't know why my parents have resisted purchasing this one little piece of modern technology. We have every other stupid appliance under the sun. We have an espresso maker, a milk shake maker, and a spice grinder. Rumor has it that a pasta maker and bread machine are on the way. Still no dishwasher, though. The one appliance we truly need and they refuse to buy. If anyone can explain the reasoning behind this madness to me, you're a genius.

Dishwashing by hand has become nothing less than a sacred tradition in our house. I've washed the dishes ever since I was tall enough to reach the sink without a stool. I remember being a little girl watching my father do the dishes. He'd let me stand up on a chair next to him at the sink while he scrubbed. We made a game of using a drinking glass to find the utensils that were lost beneath the water's sudsy surface. Ah yes, those were the days. Now it's hard to believe that I was ever naive enough to think that washing dishes was fun.

I can remember being a little older, probably about ten or eleven, watching television commercials for dishwashing detergents. In one a mother praised her children for doing such a wonderful job washing the dishes. However, they were not washing the dishes the way I did. All they had to do was rinse them and load them into the dishwasher. In the commercial the joke was that what the mother was praising her children for was actually due to the superior cleaning power of the detergent. I hated those commercials. I was so jealous of those kids who didn't have to wash dishes by hand. I hated my evil parents for forcing me to scrub and rinse every dish. I hated having to put my hands into the steaming water which turned them red and wrinkly. I begged my parents to buy a dishwasher. "Nonsense!" they cried. "Why should we buy a dishwasher when we have two little dishwashers right here?"

After saying that they would grin as if they had just made a hilarious joke that I should laugh at with them. Every time it was my turn to wash the dishes I would try to get out of it any way I could. I made up excuses, feigned illness, discovered more homework that needed to be done, anything but wash the dishes. More often than not, however, my attempts failed. "Dishwashing builds character" became my father's favorite slogan. If that's true, then I must have more character than anyone else in the free world.

After several years, I came to accept the fact that the chances of my parents breaking down and buying a dishwasher were slim to none. But that didn't stunt my determination to get out of doing the dishes. I was a woman with a mission and I was not going to give in. I started a campaign in our house to use nothing but paper plates, plastic utensils, and disposable cups. I rationalized this by telling my mother that some meals were not meant to be eaten off real dishes. Actually, according to my philosophy, most meals were better enjoyed with the disposable ease of paper and plastic. This worked for a while, but then my parents caught on to what I was up to. After that they began insisting that we eat off real dishes, drink out of glasses, and use silverware. So I was back where I started - bent over the kitchen sink, scrubbing away at some baked-on grease. Don't think that I'm reconciled to my fate, though. I still do anything I can to avoid washing the dishes.

As a matter of fact, I'm writing this right now mainly to avoid doing tonight's dinner dishes. I've got about another half hour to go before my mother will really start on me to get them done. Maybe I can figure a reason to leave the house between now and then. So the next time you're whining about having to load the dishwasher, remember me and feel lucky. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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