Everyone has a significant date stuck in their heads. For me, there are a couple of dates. The day my sons were born. The day Andy Griffith died. The bombing of the towers in New York.
And the day that had a huge impact on my life...
The day my dishwasher broke.
I recently spent most of a week in Virginia with my parents, leaving a 4 year-old and three grown men home alone without any female (adult) supervision. During one of the phone calls home, my son admitted that the 4 year-old made the comment, “We gotta git this pwace cweaned up or Mamaw gonna kick ouw butts.”
I came home on a Tuesday. The house was a little messy, and the men looked guilty ... of something.
”What’s that smell?” I asked.
That’s all I had to say. They immediately turned on each other.
The 27 year-old gave it up first. “One night when I got home from work I couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t a surface in the house that didn’t have stuff piled up on it! It was bad mom. I told ‘em they better get this cleaned up.” He looked accusingly at his father and 23-year-old brother.
”Oh it wasn’t that bad!” the 23 year-old claimed.
”And it doesn’t matter anyway, we got it all cleaned up,” said the chubby 50 year-old, who was reclining on the couch, his belly protruding like the Great Mound.
I didn’t really agree. “I don’t think so. What IS that smell?”
I found the smell — dirty dishes. The dishwasher was broken. It was fully loaded with incredibly dirty dishes (including a plate decorated with a partially eaten slice of pizza). No matter how many times I pushed the well-worn ‘heavy duty wash’ button, the machine made sad little sounds and then gave up. And at so young. Only 17.
Fortunately we had prepared for its passing, and had another dishwasher waiting in the shed. The shed door is approximately 50 feet from the house.
Three days later, I looked longingly at the shed through the kitchen window, as I washed dishes - by hand. Husband Seth was watching television in the next room.
On day five, I glared at the shed door while I washed dishes as loud as I could, and slammed the non-breakables on the counter. Seth turned up the television.
On day seven, Seth brought the new dishwasher to the deck by the back door. He removed the broken dishwasher from its den and dragged it to the deck. And introduced them to each other.
On day eight, it rained on the deck. And on both dishwashers. I swept the floor in the gaping hole where the dishwasher was supposed to be. I also enjoyed a brief homicidal fantasy which involved me shoving Seth into the dishwasher space, and nailing plywood over the opening.
On day 10, I announced that I wasn’t doing another dish until the dishwasher was replaced. I felt momentarily liberated. My happiness was carried away by the infestation of ants, who arrived for the feast on the landfill of dirty dishes.
On day 12, it became clear that dirty dishes on the counters have more impact on my well-being than on Seth’s well-being. I purchased some alcohol and drank it on the deck while I talked to the dishwashers about the state of my marriage.
On day 15, I explained that there would be no more food produced in the kitchen until the dishwasher was replaced.
The next day, Seth stepped out on the deck.
”Well, hey dad. What brings you off the couch?” the lounging-in-the-sun 27 year-old asked.
Day 16 — dishwasher installed.
Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.